While the Southern Conference regular season may be cooling down, the Chattanooga softball team is staying hot as the Mocs claimed a couple of games from Western Carolina Saturday evening at Frost Stadium. Chattanooga edged out the Catamounts in a 1-0 win in the first game and took the second 10-2 in walkoff fashion in the bottom of the fifth inning with a run-rule shortened contest.
“We are still fighting for position in the SoCon Tournament,” Head Coach Frank Reed said. “We always play to win, but seeds are on the line this weekend. We have to stay hot and carry our momentum into next week in Greensboro, N.C.”
With today’s twin-bill sweep and Furman’s split with Appalachian State, the Mocs and Paladins are tied for second place in the league standings. However, with UTC winning the regular season series, Chattanooga holds the tie-breaker if the two teams finish with identical record – giving the Mocs the higher seed.
Chattanooga 1 – Western Carolina 0 (Game One)
A pitching duel ensued in the first game of the night, pinning Chattanooga ace Katie Henderson (Hixson, Tenn.) against Western Carolina ace Jordan Garrett. Henderson (15-10) came out on top in the end with Garrett (9-15) taking the no-decision, but both hurlers were neck-and-neck until the bottom of the fifth inning.
Through the first three frames of the game, Henderson whiffed five batters – striking out the side in the third – and allowed just one hit. On the flip side, Garrett gave up just four hits in four innings of work and stranded five Mocs on base.
The game’s only run came in the fifth off Catamounts reliever Taylor Sigmon as Sarah Beth Roberts (Mt. Juliet, Tenn.) got the ball rolling with a hard single up the middle with one out. With the swift junior on, a wild pitch allowed Roberts to move up to second with Alyssa Taylor (Orange, Calif.) at the plate. Taylor took advantage with the runner in scoring position, driving a hit up the middle to score the third baseman from second.
Working with a 1-0 lead, Henderson gave up just three hits beyond the fifth and did not allow a WCU run to cross. The sophomore totaled nine strikeouts and the shutout was her third of the season.
Chattanooga 10 – Western Carolina 2 (Game Two)
The Mocs put Western Carolina away in five innings in the second game with a big first inning and multiple runs in the fourth and fifth innings to give Chattanooga a walkoff win.
UTC posted five runs in the first inning to take a convincing lead. Among the five hits in the inning, Roberts blasted her fifth homerun of the season on a high flyball to center.
Jesslyn Stockard (Ringgold, Ga.) proved to be the dangerous hitter in the lineup on a couple of strikes first and third innings. The freshman was 2-for-3 on the night while also reaching on an error. A three-RBI double in the first and an RBI-double in the third gave UTC four of its 10 runs and four RBIs to Stockard’s credit.
Backing the offense was junior Taylor Deason (Clarksville, Tenn.) in the circle for the Mocs. The righty picked up her 13th win, allowing just three hits and two runs – both unearned. Deason struck out six and walked just one.
The Mocs finish up the series and the regular season tomorrow at 2 p.m. with Senior Day festivities to precede the game. Senior Day recognition is set to begin 15 minutes before the scheduled 2 p.m. first pitch. Seniors Katie Dutton (Tulsa, Okla.), Stephanie Rieck (Chandler, Ariz.), Tyler Templet (Woodstock, Ga.), Hannah Thurley (Nashville, Tenn.) and athletic trainer Ian Carruthers will be recognized.