CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (GoMocs.com)– After being snowed out last weekend, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga softball team travels south to Deland, Fla. to compete in the Stetson Tournament, March 6-8.
The Mocs (11-4) open against Kansas (17-1) on March 6 at 1:30 p.m. ET; followed by a contest versus Stetson (10-3) at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, March 7 features games against Kansas at 11 a.m. and LaSalle at 1:30 p.m. Consolation and championship games will close out the tournament on Sunday, March 8 at 10 a.m. and 12 p.m.
Series: The all-time series is tied 2-2. The Mocs beat the Jayhawks, 1-0 in 2001 and 6-0 in 2010. The teams last met in 2014 at the UCF Knights Invitational. Despite a seven-inning, one run performance from starting pitcher Taylor Deason, Chattanooga was unable to plate any runners giving, Kansas a 1-0 victory.
Jayhawks Notables: Standing at 17-1, Kansas broke into the national polls for the first time since 2011. The Jayhawks have won five straight games, having only lost to No. 1 Florida in the Aquafina Invitational, which snapped their 12 wins to open the season. On the year, Kansas is batting .342, the second-best average in the Big 12 conference, with 45 extra base hits, including 13 home runs. Briana Evans tops the team with a .438 batting average, followed by Chaley Brickey at .400. Together they have registered 21 RBI.
The Jayhawks' pitching staff has posted a 2.98 ERA, the third-lowest ERA in the league, with five shutouts and 77 strikeouts. Leading the team's efforts at the mound is senior Alicia Pille. A native of Royse City, Texas, Pille recently reached 500 career strikeouts. She holds an ERA of 1.57 with a 9-0 record this season. In 62.1 innings pitched she has fanned 62 strikeouts and only 15 walks.
STETSON SCOUTING REPORT
Series: The Stetson Tournament will mark the second all-time meeting between the Mocs and the Hatters. Stetson holds a 1-0 advantage over the Mocs, having squeezed by UTC, 2-1 in 1994.
Hatter Notables: Returning seven starters and 14 letterwinners, the 2014 Atlantic Sun Conference Champion is on a seven game winning streak for a 10-3 record. This season, Stetson logs in 106 RBI, and18 home runs with five players at a .405 batting average or higher.
Pacing the Hatters' drive on the field are preseason all-conference selections Jessica Griffin and Demi Meza. Griffin tops the team with a .528 batting average, 1.195 slugging average, seven home runs and 24 RBI. Meza is hitting .405 with five homeruns and 16 RBI.
LASALLE SCOUTING REPORT
Series: This is the first meeting between the two teams.
Explorer Notables: Inclement weather canceled two consecutive weekends for LaSalle, keeping the Explorers from officially starting their 2015 campagin. This weekend, the La Salle softball team looks to pick up momentum. Last year, the Explorers went 9-9 in conference play under head coach Ron Shoemaker who is entering his third season at the helm of the program.
On a six-game hitting streak, Sam Taylor leads the squad with a .440 batting average (22-for-50), 22 hits and 15 runs scored. The junior has one home run, while tallying eight doubles and a triple. The Georgia native ranks in the top four in seven SoCon categories including the top spot in doubles.
The Mocs have hit 14 home runs in the first 15 games. Nicole Osterman boasts a team-high 4 home runs, second in the SoCon. The senior registered a season-high of 2 homers against Ball State on Feb. 22. Sarah Beth Roberts and Criket Blanco tie for second with three a piece, followed in by Anyssa Robbles at two. Overall, the Mocs are tied for second with ETSU for most home runs in the SoCon. Mercer leads the conference with 15 homeruns.
Chattanooga currently boasts the best performance on the mound in the Southern Conference with a 2.68 ERA and .228 opponent batting average. Taylor Deason leads the Mocs and the SoCon with 1.54 ERA. The senior has fanned 57 in 50 innings pitched. Aiding Deason on defense is Cori Jennings. With an ERA of 2.94, the freshman has delivered 25 strikeouts in 35.2 innings pitched to place in the top four pitchers of the conference.
MOCS CAN HIT IT
15 games into the season, Chattanooga has eight players with one or more multi-hit games. Sam Taylor tops the team with six, followed in by Sarah Beth Roberts with five, Criket Blanco at 4, Anyssa Robles with 3, Nicole Osterman and Kailey Palazoolo with 2 each and Alyssa Taylor and Marina Wilkerson with one apiece. Osterman holds the most hits in a game for UTC as she powered out 4 in the Mocs 7-2 victory over Jacksonville. Totaling 113 hits, Chattanooga rates third in the Southern Conference.
Already turning out seven double plays this season, Chattanooga is on track to surpass last season's 17. Led by second baseman Criket Blanco, the Mocs are currently tied for first in most double plays with Samford. UTC has fielded 89 double plays in the last five seasons with 17 in 2014, 21 in 2013 and 2012, 16 in 2011 and 14 in 2010.
Chattanooga is taking aim at its third longest-winning streak in the past four years. In 2012, the Mocs recorded an 11 game winning streak followed by a five game streak in 2013, and an eight-game streak in 2014. The season, UTC is riding a six-game winning streak, including victories over No. 22 South Alabama, (3-1), Arkansas (7-3) and UAB (13-0).
ROCK SOLID PERFORMANCE FROM OSTERMAN
Outfielder Nicole Osterman was the first Moc to be named the SoCon Softball and ESPNW Player of the Week as she recorded at least one hit in UTC's five games at the South Alabama Invitational for the Mocs, going 9-for-17 (.529) with four home runs, seven runs and 14 RBIs. The senior had two multi-hit games and recorded six total extra-base hits over the five games. She received the weekly honor for the first time in her career.
Osterman accounted for two of UTC's three runs against No. 22 South Alabama on Friday, going 1-for-2 with a homer, two runs and an RBI in the win. She then went 4-for-4 with a double, a home run, five RBIs and a run against Jacksonville on Saturday. The native of Kissimmee, Fla. finished the weekend with a 2-for-3 effort against Ball State with two home runs, two walks, three runs and six RBIs to propel the Mocs to a 10-9 win.
APPLYING FOR THE MILLENNIUM CLUB
A 5-0 sweep at the South Alabama Invitational has put Head Coach Frank Reed's overall career record at 985-370 and his UTC record at 509-303. 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. The five-time SoCon Coach of the Year is only 15 wins away from his 1,000th career victory.
Chattanooga takes on UMass, Hartford, Army, Syracuse and Boston University in the USF Tournament for a final tune up before SoCon play begins. The tournament is March 13-March 15 in Clearwater, Fla.