CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (GoMocs.com)– After a 5-1 loss to start the day, the Chattanooga Mocs softball team clinched the 2015 SoCon regular season title and the No.1 seed on Sunday with a dramatic 4-3 victory over Samford in eight innings.
It is the 13th time in program history that Chattanooga claims the season title, the last time having been in 2011.
The Mocs finish the regular season 32-13 overall and 12-5 in league play. Receiving a first round bi for the SoCon Championship Tournament, Chattanooga will face the winner of the Furman (No.4) and Western Carolina (No.5) game, Thursday at 11: 30 a.m.
Game 1: Chattanooga 1, Samford 5
Just like the series opener, Samford took a 2-0 lead in the first inning. The Bulldogs loaded the bases and a single to left field by Cal Brister drove in runners from third and second.
The Mocs responded with a run in the bottom of the second as Sam Taylor drove in a run from third with a single to center field.
With the score set 2-1, Samford cushioned its lead with three runs in the top of the third frame. The Mocs would keep the Bulldogs from adding to their advantage but would not be able to spark any offensive momentum for themselves. Samford pitcher, Mollie Hanson will sustain Chattanooga with seven strikeouts and zero walks.
After three scoreless innings to wrap up the game, Samford took the victory, 5-1.
Game 2: Chattanooga 4, Samford 3
With the regular season title on the line, the series finale had a much more competitive atmosphere as both teams stepped up to play.
After four scoreless innings, Samford was the first to put up a run in the top of the fifth frame. With one out and Bulldogs on third and second, four balls from Kailey Palazzolo walked Megan Dowdy to load the bases. Going pitch-for-pitch with the batters, four more balls from Palazzolo walked in a run for Samford.
Still in the game, the Mocs matched Samford's run in the bottom of the sixth as a single from Nicole Osterman drove in J.J. Hamill from second.
With the score knotted at one, both teams went scoreless in the seventh inning to extend the game.
In the top of the eighth with two outs and bases loaded a single from Lex Higgins brought in two runs for the Bulldogs.
Down 3-1, Chattanooga stayed relentless, putting up two hits for three runs in the bottom of the frame. With one out and Mocs on first and second, a double to right field from Criket Blanco cut Samford's lead to one and positioned Mocs on second and third.
Samford's Hanson would leave Jesslyn Stockard swinging but would not be able to trip Anyssa Robles as the junior smacked a 2 RBI hit to take the game, 4-3 and secure the title for the Mocs.
As the winning pitcher Palazzolo improved to 6-1, reinforcing Chattanooga's defense with eight strikeouts.
2015 Southern Conference Softball Championship Schedule
Wednesday, May 6
Game 1: No. 4 seed Furman vs. No. 5 seed Western Carolina, 10 a.m., SoCon Digital Network
Game 2: No. 2 seed Samford vs. No. 7 seed ETSU, 12:30 p.m., SoCon Digital Network
Game 3: No. 3 seed Mercer vs. No. 6 seed UNCG, 3 p.m., SoCon Digital Network
Thursday, May 7
Game 4: Loser of Game 2 vs. Loser of Game 3, 9 a.m., SoCon Digital Network
Game 5: Winner of Game 1 vs. No. 1 seed Chattanooga, 11:30 a.m., SoCon Digital Network
Game 6: Winner of Game 2 vs. Winner of Game 3, 2 p.m., SoCon Digital Network
Game 7: Loser of Game 5 vs. Winner of Game 4 , 4:30 p.m., SoCon Digital Network
Game 8: Loser of Game 1 vs. Loser of Game 6, 7 p.m., SoCon Digital Network
Friday, May 8
Game 9: Winner of Game 5 vs. Winner of Game 6, 10 a.m., SoCon Digital Network
Game 10: Winner of Game 7 vs. Winner of Game 8, 12:30 p.m., SoCon Digital Network
Game 11: Loser of Game 9 vs. Winner of Game 10, 3 p.m., SoCon Digital Network
Saturday, May 9
Game 12: Winner of Game 9 vs. Winner of Game 11, 1 p.m., ESPN3
All times are Eastern.