Lady Mocs softball bounces back with series win over Mercer
The Chattanooga Mocs softball team homered its way to a 4-2 win in game two of the three-game Southern Conference series before being held to just three hits in the finale, a 2-1 loss, against the Mercer Bears at Sikes Field in Macon, Ga., on Saturday afternoon.
Chattanooga (25-12, 4-5 SoCon) earned its second conference series victory of the season after taking two out of three games following yesterday's victory. Mercer (20-22, 6-3 SoCon) drops their first SoCon series of the season and the first against UTC since 2016.
Chattanooga 4, Mercer 2
Mercer struck for a run in the bottom of the first off Chattanooga starting pitcher Celie Hudson to build an early 1-0 lead. Micayla Rood and Allie Jones led the frame off with a double and a single to land runners at second and third before Danielle Castleberry grounded out, bringing in Rood.
Stella Preston earned the starting nod for the Bears and held the Mocs scoreless over the first four innings. She allowed just one single from Amanda Beltran while striking out three over that span.
Hudson settled in after the first inning run, retiring the side in order in both the second and fourth innings while picking up a pair of strikeouts in a harmless third inning.
For the second-straight game, Chattanooga put together a four-run rally, this time coming in the fifth. Morgan Kazerooni provided the initial spark with a pinch-hit, solo homer over the center field fence with one out, tying the game 1-1.
Alyssa Coppinger followed with a double down the line in left and advanced to third on an Emily Coltharp single. With two outs, Aly Walker ripped the first pitch she saw over the wall in right center, scoring three runs and putting UTC ahead 4-1.
Mercer answered with a run in the home half of the inning courtesy of three singles to pull within two, 4-2. Hudson escaped the jam with limited damage by stranding a pair of runners via a strikeout and ground out.
After a scoreless sixth and top of the seventh for the UTC offense, Allison Swinford relieved Hudson in the circle, looking to convert her second save opportunity in as many games.
She retired the first two hitters on just five pitches before a HBP with an 0-2 count allowed the tying run to reach the plate. Swinford (2) induced a soft ground ball to third three pitches later to secure the save and 4-2 victory for Chattanooga.
Hudson (8-8) was awarded the pitching victory after allowing just two earned runs and six hits in 6.0 innings of work while striking out six.
Notable Performances: Celie Hudson (W, 6IP, 6H, 2ER, 6K), Allison Swinford (SV, 1IP), Aly Walker (1-for-2, GW HR, 3 RBI), Morgan Kazerooni (1-for-1, HR, RBI)
Mercer 2, Chattanooga 1
The series theme of a low-scoring pitcher's duel continued in the third and final game. Freshmen pitchers Mariah Ramirez (UTC) and Bailey Pattison (MER) earned starts for their respective ball clubs and combined to dazzle.
Mercer plated the game's first run in the bottom of the second on a two-out, RBI single off the bat of Tori Ash to take a 1-0 lead.
Chattanooga was held scoreless over the first three frames before producing a run in the top of the fourth. Aly Walker led the inning off with a double to center before Taylor Chadwick came on to relieve her of base-running duties as a pinch runner.
Emma Sturdivant laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Chadwick up to third ahead of a Halie Williamson RBI ground out to short, tying the game up 1-1.
Ramirez cruised through the fourth and fifth innings before a leadoff walk in the sixth and passed ball with one out landed a runner at third. Mercer's Meghan Lane lifted a sacrifice fly to center field, bringing in the go-ahead run at third, to put the Bears ahead 2-1.
Sturdivant led the top of the seventh off with an infield single, but the Chattanooga offense failed to bring her in and dropped the tough one-run decision.
Ramirez (11-1) suffered the first loss of her collegiate career despite surrendering just two hits and one earned run over 6.0 innings. The go-ahead run for Mercer in the bottom of the sixth was credited as unearned due to the passed ball.
Notable Performances: Mariah Ramirez (6IP, 2H, ER), Aly Walker (1-for-3, 2B), Emma Sturdivant (2-for-2)
- Chattanooga moves to 25-12 overall and 4-5 in SoCon play… eight of nine SoCon games this season have been decided by two runs or less.
- Pitching staff has allowed three earned runs or less in all nine SoCon games… four-straight games with two earned runs or less… staff ERA of 1.72 in SoCon games only.
- Allison Swinford picked up her 2nd save of the season and 5th of her career in GM2's 4-2 win… moves into a tie for 8th all-time at UTC with five saves… SoCon-best 1.42 ERA this year.
- Aly Walker went a combined 2-for-5 with a HR, double & 3 RBI on Saturday… upped her hit streak to five games… leads team in average (.367), runs (28) and OBP (.469%)… HR was her 3rd of the season… now with 20 RBI.
Chattanooga heads west on I-24 to Nashville, Tenn., for a Tuesday night non-conference showdown at Belmont with first pitched scheduled for 6 p.m. EDT. The game will air LIVE on ESPN+ through ESPN.com and the ESPN App platforms. Links available on the schedule page.