Lack of offense leads to Saturday sweep of the Lady Mocs
The Chattanooga Mocs softball team and its offense failed to yield run support behind a pair of solid pitching performances and suffered a doubleheader sweep to the defending-Southern Conference champion UNCG Spartans on Saturday afternoon at Jim Frost Stadium.
Chattanooga (23-10, 2-3 SoCon) was shutout in game one, 2-0, before UNCG (19-12, 3-2 SoCon) scored a late-inning run to capture a 3-2 victory in game two.
UNCG 2, Chattanooga 0
Chattanooga's Celie Hudson and UNCG's Stephanie Bryden entered into a pitcher's duel after each combining to strand eight runners over the first three innings of the game.
Bryden surrendered just three hits during that span, all singles, with two of them coming as the infield variety from shortstop and leadoff batter Emily Coltharp. Hudson escaped an opening-inning bases loaded jam before stranding a runner in the second and two in the third to keep the game scoreless.
After 1-2-3 fourth innings from both squads, the Spartans sparked a two-out rally on the help of three walks and one infield single to take a 1-0 lead. Back-to-back, two-out walks from Hudson loaded the bases and forced Mariah Ramirez to enter the game in a relief situation.
UNCG's Kayleigh Willis fell behind in the count, 2-0, to Ramirez before grounding a 2-2 pitch up the middle, far enough behind the bag where all runners advanced safely to create the one-run advantage.
The Spartans added a solo homerun off the bat of Hannah Stiltner in the top of the sixth to extend the lead, 2-0. Bryden (13-6) retired the final 13 hitters in the Chattanooga lineup to earn the victory in a complete-game effort. She finished with six strikeouts and allowed just three hits and no free passes.
Hudson (7-7) suffered the loss in the circle for UTC. She tossed 4.2 innings and allowed only two hits and one earned run while striking out three and tying a season-high with six walks. Ramirez registered four strikeouts in 2.1 innings and allowed two hits and one earned run.
Chattanooga's offense was shutout and recorded three hits as a team for the second-straight game. It marks the fewest combined hits in consecutive SoCon regular season games since 2005. Emily Coltharp picked up her eighth multi-hit game of the season and extended her hit-streak to 10 games behind two singles.
Notable Performances: Celie Hudson (4.2IP, 2H, ER, 3K); Emily Coltharp (2-for-3, 2 1B); Halie Williamson (1-for-3)
UNCG 3, Chattanooga 2
Looking to break through the offensive troubles, Chattanooga opened up the home half of the first with an aggressive approach which helped build an early 1-0 lead.
Emily Coltharp led the frame off with a single before being retired at second base by way of a fielder's choice from Gracey Kruse. Following a strikeout, Kruse swiped her first career base with two outs on a first pitch ball to Emma Sturdivant to start the threat.
Sturdivant delivered with an RBI single through the right side on a 1-2 count, allowing Kruse to round third and safely slide in to home for the game's first run.
Allison Swinford made her seventh start this season in the circle and set the tone early for what would be a solid performance. She recorded three strikeouts and allowed just two baserunners to reach safely over her first three innings of work.
Coltharp provided a highlight play in the top of the second at shortstop, completing a diving catch on a pop-up behind the circle before throwing on to first to complete an inning-ending double play.
UNCG pulled ahead 2-1 in the top of the fourth after Kayleigh Willis cleared the right field bleachers with a two-out, two-run homerun on a 2-0 count.
Hayleigh Weissenbach sparked the comeback effort in the home half of the fifth by leading off with a double to the left-center gap. After a failed sacrifice bunt attempt, Coltharp and Kruse laced back-to-back singles to load the bases with one out.
Chattanooga capitalized for only one run during the threat and tied things, 2-2, when Weissenbach came in to score on passed ball on a swinging third strike.
UNCG's Delaney Cumbie led the sixth inning off with a four-pitch walk and advanced to second on a fielder's choice one batter later. Cumbie reached third with two outs after a comebacker to Swinford was fielded and thrown on to first.
Willis stepped up again for the Spartans with a go-ahead RBI single to left field after falling behind 0-2 in the count. The run-scoring knock put the visitors ahead 3-2 and proved to be the ultimate difference as Chattanooga failed to piece together a final-inning rally.
Swinford (6-3) was handed the loss despite a strong complete-game performance. She tied a career-high six strikeouts while allowing three earned runs and five hits in her first 7.0 inning outing this season.
Six different Mocs recorded a hit as the offense racked up eight on the day. Coltharp continued to swing a hot bat with a three hits in four at-bats, extending her active hit streak to 11 games and marking her ninth multi-hit effort this season.