The Chattanooga Mocs softball team defeated Samford 1-0 Friday morning to advance to the Southern Conference Softball Championships finals for the first time since 2011. The pitching duo of Taylor Deason (Clarksville, Tenn.) and Katie Henderson (Hixson,Tenn.) combined for the Mocs’ third shutout and victory of the tournament.
“I am really proud of how we played today,” Head Coach Frank Reed said. “I thought the quick score in the first inning might set us up for a strong game offensively, but Deason and Henderson were so strong that we only needed the one run.”
Designated as the away team, the Mocs got on the board in the top of the first inning on a couple of hits off Samford starter Mollie Hanson. Sarah Beth Roberts (Mt. Juliet, Tenn.) led off with a single back up the middle, ricocheting off Hanson, and was moved to second on a groundout. A second grounder moved Roberts to third before Nicole Osterman (Kissimmee, Fla.) ripped a hard single to second to score the Mocs’ third baseman.
The Chattanooga pitching staff took over from there, holding Samford scoreless through seven innings and allowing just five hits. Deason tossed the first three innings – restraining the Bulldogs to just two hits – before Henderson came on in relief in the fourth. Henderson allowed just one hit and struck out five, moving her tournament-strikeout total to 27 and her week’s scoreless-inning streak to 18. Pitching the majority of the game, Henderson walked away with the win to improve to 3-0 in the tournament.
Saturday’s 1 p.m. championship game is Chattanooga’s first return to the finals since winning the tournament in 2011 in Statesboro, Ga. Thus far, the Mocs have not allowed a run to score and held opponents to 13 hits.
ESPN3 is set to carry Saturday’s championship matchup. Chattanooga will face the winner of Friday’s semifinal round between No. 1 Georgia Southern and No. 5 UNCG. Live stats and video are both available for free.