The Chattanooga Mocs softball team used a three-run first inning to build early momentum before rolling to a 9-1 run-rule victory over Eastern Illinois on Thursday afternoon at the Eddie C. Moore Softball Complex in Clearwater, Fla.
Chattanooga improved to 18-5 on the year and completed the two-game series sweep with Eastern Illinois (7-18). UTC downed EIU, 2-1, back on February 9 at the season-opening Kennesaw State Tournament.
BOX SCORE » Chattanooga 9, E. Illinois 1 (6)
For consecutive games and the tenth time this season, Chattanooga struck for runs in the opening frame to build an early cushion for the pitching staff.
UTC plated first inning runs just 12 times during the entire 2018 season.
Emily Coltharp led the inning off with a walk before advancing to second with one out after a failed SAC bunt and walk from Aly Walker. With runners on first and second and out, seniors Emma Sturdivant, Halie Williamson and Amanda Beltran ripped three-straight RBI singles to put the Mocs ahead 3-0.
Alyssa Coppinger picked up the attack in the bottom of the second with a lead-off double down the right field line. Coltharp advanced Coppinger to third with a sacrifice bunt before fellow freshman Sidney Swantic lifted a sacrifice fly to left to extend the advantage to 4-0.
Sophomore Allison Swinford earned her fifth start of the season in the circle and held the Panthers scoreless over the first two innings while striking out one to preserve the 4-0 lead.
Chattanooga called to Mariah Ramirez to start the top of the third in the circle in relief of Swinford. Ramirez surrendered a one-out solo homer to EIU's Breya Cooper but escaped the inning with limited damage.
Leading 4-1 in the bottom of the third, UTC continued the scoring with two runs on three hits, all coming from the senior class, to grow its lead to five, 6-1. After one-out singles from Williamson and Beltran, Devan Brown laced a two-RBI triple to the gap in right center to score Williamson and Makenzi Grider (pinch runner for Beltran).
The rookie duo of Colthatp and Swantic led off with singles in the bottom of the fourth before Walker was HBP to load the bases with no outs. The Mocs plated only one run during the rally, a sacrifice fly to from Sturdivant, to build a new 7-1 edge.
After a scoreless fifth for both Ramirez and the UTC offense, Heidi Hall took over pitching duties in the sixth with a six-run lead. Hall faced just five batters in the frame and struck out two by the swinging variety. Hall has struck out at least one in nine of her last 11 appearances of 1.0+ innings over the last two seasons.
Chattanooga loaded the bases with two outs after Beltran and Weissenbach registered singles, and Coppinger was HBP. Coltharp stepped up with a two-out, two-RBI single up the middle to walk the Mocs off with its fifth run-rule victory of the season, 9-1.
Ramirez (8-0) earned the win as the relief pitcher after tossing 3.0 innings of work, allowing four hits and one earned run while striking out one in 14 batters faced. Swinford earned a no decision label on her outing after 2.0 innings of scoreless, three-hit work as UTC's starter.
Chattanooga roped 14 hits, 12 singles, in the victory and has now recorded back-to-back, double-digit hit games for the third time this season. The offense was limited to just 30 hits and 14 runs over its last 37.0 innings before busting out for 25 hits and 15 runs over the last 13.0.
Notable Performances: Amanda Beltran (3-for-4, RBI); Emily Coltharp (2-for-2, 2 RBI); Sidney Swantic (2-for-3, RBI); Emma Sturdivant (1-for-3, 2 RBI); Devan Brown (1-for-4, 3B, 2 RBI); Halie Williamson (2-for-3, RBI); Hayleigh Weissenbach (2-for-4, R)
Chattanooga continues play at the USF Invitational with five games over the next three days beginning with Wichita State (4:45 p.m.) and LIU Brooklyn (7:15 p.m.) tomorrow at the Eddie C. Moore Softball Complex. Live stat links are located on the schedule page. For the most up-to-date schedule changes, link changes, etc., please follow @GoMocsSB on Twitter.