published Monday, February 24th, 2014

UTC finishes 5-0 in Frost Classic

UTC's Alyssa Taylor, left, and Anyssa Robles celebrate retiring the side in the second inning of their 3-1 win over Campbell University in the Frost Classic finale at Jim Frost Stadium on Sunday.
UTC's Alyssa Taylor, left, and Anyssa Robles celebrate retiring the side in the second inning of their 3-1 win over Campbell University in the Frost Classic finale at Jim Frost Stadium on Sunday.
Photo by C. B. Schmelter /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

A couple of long shots paid off Sunday afternoon for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga softball team, which didn't need much.

UTC concluded its Frost Classic with a 3-1 win over the Campbell Camels at Jim Frost Stadium, giving the Mocs (8-6) a 5-0 record in the tournament and eight wins in their last nine games.

Home runs by Jesslyn Stockard and Sarah Beth Roberts accounted for UTC's scoring, and pitchers Katie Henderson and Taylor Deason allowed only one hit. The first batter of the game, Stephanie Jones, reached on a misplayed short hop through the shortstop and subsequently scored on a long fly to left field by Milly Martinet for a quick Camels lead, but Henderson (3-2) worked her way through five innings with no further damage.

Deason, the junior veteran of the staff, faced six batters and got six outs without a ball leaving the infield.

"We didn't feel like Katie was sharp [in locating her pitches] from the beginning, and she went through their lineup exactly twice. They had seen a lot of her changeup," UTC coach Frank Reed said. "She had a good day but not like last night [against Toledo], and she had already pitched 20-plus innings in the tournament. So we decided to give them a different look with Taylor.

"She got three ground-ball outs -- bam, bam, bam -- and then came back with two ground-ball outs and a strikeout in the seventh. It's not really about a pitcher's stats -- it's about getting a win -- and how easy were those last two innings.

"We've been having some success with pitching combos," Reed added, including Liana Rodrigues and Rachel Albritton, "and we played 33 innings and had 29 scoreless innings in this tournament."

UTC took the lead Sunday in the bottom of the second inning, when Jenny Garcia drilled a liner down the left-field line, ticking the third baseman's glove, with one out and Stockard -- the freshman first baseman from Heritage High School in Ringgold -- followed with a high fly that landed beyond the fence in right field.

Roberts lined a home run to right center leading off the bottom of the fourth, giving the Mocs seven homers in their last three games. They had seven hits by seven batters Sunday after rocking 22 hits in Saturday's two wins.

Reed said the batting improved during the period after the fall practice season.

"We have a reputation of being a strong hitting team, and we kind of fell off that some last year," he said. "I went back to some things I used to teach -- some drills that are kind of monotonous but teach patience and consistency -- and we broke down some swings. You can't change a swing overnight, but they worked on what we showed them over the holidays and now they're starting to develop some confidence."

Every other game Sunday was decided by one run: Butler 2-1 over Austin Peay, Toledo 4-3 over Middle Tennessee, Tennessee Tech 1-0 over Radford and Ohio University 7-6 over Northwestern State in eight innings, pushing UTC's game more than an hour late starting.

Chelsea Burgess from Sequatchie County went 3-for-3 and Madison Taylor homered for Tech.

Contact Ron Bush at rbush@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6291.

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