The Chattanooga Mocs softball team topped Middle Tennessee 5-3 Saturday afternoon to complete its two-game sweep of the Blue Raiders at Frost Stadium. The come-from-behind win saw the Mocs put up four runs in the bottom of the sixth after trailing by more than two runs for the majority of the game.
“This was a close one,” Head Coach Frank Reed said. “I was afraid we scored all of our runs Friday and didn’t have any left for this one. Hopefully this game was a wake-up call and we can go into Statesboro, Ga., a little more prepared.”
Middle Tennessee jumped on the board first thanks to a miscue and hit allowed, but only one run crossed in the opening inning. With LaRi Mitchell on third after reaching on an error and rounding on a Samantha Nieves’ single up the middle, the Raiders were able to create a conundrum on the base paths to score a run. Mitchell, hung up between first and second on a stolen base attempt, ate up enough time for Mitchell to score to put MTSU up 1-0.
Mitchell scored again in the third after singling and reaching second on an error. In scoring position, the centerfielder came home on Nieves’ second hit of the afternoon, putting the Blue Raiders up 2-0.
Scoreless until the fourth inning, down 3-0, Chattanooga got its first run of the day on a hit and a couple of errors. With a runner on and one out, senior Kaiti Dutton (Tulsa, Okla.) singled up the middle and found herself standing at second after the ball was botched in the outfield. Sophomore Criket Blanco (Maryville, Tenn.) scored from third on the following at-bat as Jesslyn Stockard (Ringgold, Ga.) put the ball in play to pull UTC within two runs.
Sophomore Kaiti Henderson (Hixson, Tenn.) left the bases loaded in the fourth and sixth innings, tossing two frames of shutout softball to earn the offense a chance to take the lead. The bats delivered for the hurler in the bottom of the sixth.
Three consecutive batters reached base – one out by fielder’s choice – and Dutton reached an on error on the infield to load the bases. Stockard followed through with an RBI single and senior Tyler Templet (Woodstock, Ga.) walked to drive home a second run, tying the game 3-3.
Back-to-back RBI singles then gave Chattanooga the lead and insurance. Sarah Beth Roberts (Mt. Juliet, Tenn.) smoked a single through the 5-6 hole to provide the Mocs’ winning run for the second straight game, and Alyssa Taylor (Orange, Calif.) added to the run total with an RBI single of her own.
Henderson retired the MTSU side in the top of the seventh to lock down her team-leading 14th win of the year. Improving to 26-17 with the win, Chattanooga now is tasked with traveling to Statesboro, Ga., one last time to take on Southern Conference leading Georgia Southern in a three-game set next weekend. The Mocs are just 2.5 games behind the Eagles in the SoCon standings.