CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee - The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga softball team will head south to Mobile, Ala. this weekend to compete in the South Alabama Invitational. The Mocs will open the tournament with two games on Friday against Ball State at 10 a.m. ET and No. 22 South Alabama at 7 p.m. On Saturday, UTC will take on Jacksonville (12:15 p.m.) and Sam Houston (4:45 p.m.) before seeing Ball State for the second time on Sunday at 10 a.m.
Chattanooga struggled this past weekend as the Mocs went 2-3 at the Dot Richardson Invitational. UTC fell to UMass-Lowell, 5-9, No. 18 Missouri, 1-6, and UMKC, 0-7. Chattanooga's two wins from the tournament came against Cleveland State and Arkansas.
Taylor Deason proved effective in the circle as she pitched a game-high eight strike outs while only allowing three hits against the Vikings. Offensively, the Mocs took a 1-0 lead in the third inning as Sam Taylor scored on a passed ball.
Maintaining Chattanooga's momentum, Criket Blanco hammered out a home run to left field in the fourth inning, putting the Mocs up by two. In the fifth, Marina Wilkerson made it home as Alyssa Taylor made it to first off a fielder's choice.UTC would not find another score, but its defense would prove too much for CSU, giving the game to the Mocs, 3-0.
In its final game at the Dot Richardson Invitational, the UTC defeated Arkansas, 7-3.
The Mocs would claim their lead with five RBI's in the fifth inning. Taylor slammed a triple to left field, letting Wilkerson and Courtney Ervin score.
Alyssa Taylor followed with a single to bring home Sam Taylor. Osterman singled to centerfield to bring in Alyssa Taylor for Chattanooga's sixth RBI of the game.
UTC's last run of the inning came off of a single hit by Robles scoring in Sarah Beth Roberts.
BALL STATE SCOUTING REPORT
Series: Knotted at one win apiece, the Mocs and the Cardinals will come into this weekend fighting for the lead in the two-game series. Chattanooga fell to Ball State, 1-4 in 1996 but swept the Cardinals 9-0 in the 2008. The win was led by former Moc Brooke Loudermilk who pitched a three-hit shutout. Offensively, UTC would connect for three homeruns to end the game in five innings. It was Chattanooga's fourth straight win of the 2008 season.
Cardinal Notables: Ball State is currently 5-4 with wins over South Dakota, IUPUI, Lipscomb, Mercer and Eastern Illinois.At bat, the Cardinals are led by Jessica Craft who leads the team with a .364 hitting average. Craft also boasts a nine runs, eight hits and five RBI's. Representing Ball State on the mound is Nicole Stienbach who has pitched 23.2 inning this season with 25 strike outs and a 4.56 ERA.
SOUTH ALABAMA SCOUTING REPORT
Series: The Mocs and the Jaguars are tied at 1 win apiece in the two-game series. Chattanooga outplayed South Alabama, 4-2 in 2011 but the nationally ranked opponent would claim a 2-1 win in 2014.TheJaguars were able to narrowly outlast the Mocs through seven innings, despite garnering just five hits from the UTC pitching staff. Taylor Deason opened the game and accumulated 3.1 innings against the South Alabama bats. Allowing just four hits and one earned run, Deason whiffed two batters and allowed two total runs.
Keeping the Jaguars to just two runs, Katie Henderson entered in relief in the middle of the fourth inning and shut the Jaguars' offense down. Entering in a one-out-two-on situation, Henderson coaxed a line-out and recorded a strikeout to get the Mocs out of the troublesome inning. However, despite the strong pitching performances, the Chattanooga offense was only able to push across one run against the stacked South Alabama pitching.
Jaguar Notables: Ranked No. 22 in the nation, South Alabama is sitting at 8-2 with a seven-game winning streak. Looking to sweep the South Alabama Invitational for the third season, the Jaguars are led by Stephanie Pilkington, Amanda Herron, and Chloe Rathburn who hold a batting average over .387 and 10 or more hits. On the mound, Kalen McGill and Farish Beard have ERAs less than one while Devin Brown has pitched the most innings (27.1) and has an ERA of 2.05
JACKSONVILLE SCOUTING REPORT
Series: The Mocs hold a 2-0 advantage over the Dolphins defeating them twice in 2005.
Dolphin Notables: Standing at 5-6, the Dolphins were selected to finish seventh in the Altantic Sun. Pacing Jacksonville's play is Victoria Brown. The pitcher was selected to the 2015 Preseason All-Conference team having appeared in all 49 games for the Dolphins last season. In 2014, she pitched 139 innings, the 10th most in the A-Sun, and struck out 72 batters, also ranked 10th in the conference. Brown closed out her sophomore campaign with a 10-11 record, four shutouts and a 3.37 earned run average. Offensively, she recorded a batting average of .259 with 37 hits, 18 runs batted in and a team-high 33 runs scored. This season, Brown has pitched 40.0 innings to for a 3-4 record and 3.15 ERA.
SAM HOUSTON SCOUTING REPORT
Series: The Mocs come into the weekend with a 1-0 advantage over the Bearkats having beaten them 1-0 in 1998.
Bearkats Notables: Picked to finish third in the Southland Conference,Sam Houston presently stands4-7. Leading the Bearkats on the field are designated player Hillary Adams, infielder Sarah Allison and catcher Tiffany Castillo have made the long ball a Bearkat offensive weapon for head coach Bob Brock in recent seasons. Last year, the trio combined for 28 home runs and 96 runs batted in. Adams stands as Sam Houston's all-time home run hitter with 31 in her career. Allison is third all-time with 22 homers and Castillo stands fifth with 19 in her career.
NO EASY START For the second year in a row, Chattanooga faces off against nationally-ranked teams in its nonconference play. In 2014, the Mocs matched up against No. 10 Oregon, falling to the ducks 4-5 in the UNLV Eastern Desert. This season, UTC has been pitted against No. 16 Auburn and No. 18 Missouri. Up next, Chattanooga will see No. 22 South Alabama in its home invitational before hosting No. 11 Kentucky in the Frost Classic on Saturday, Feb. 28.
APPLYING FOR THE MILLENNIUM CLUB Head Coach Frank Reed holds an overall career record of 980-370 and an UTC record of 504-303. He secured his 500th win at Chattanooga this season as the Mocs defeated George Washington, 4-2 and Evansville, 5-3 in the opening day of the Plainsman Invitational.
PRESEASON PRESSURE The Chattanooga Mocs have been selected as the preseason favorite to win the 2015 Southern Conference softball championship. Chattanooga earned six first-place votes for a total of 36 points to take the top spot in the preseason voting. The Mocs won the SoCon Championship last season as the No. 2 seed, winning four games at the SoCon tournament on route to the title. UTC also placed a league-best six players (three first-team, three second-team) on the two preseason All-SoCon squads. Chattanooga claimed the 2014 SoCon title as the No. 2 seed in the tournament.