Katie Henderson and Sarah Beth Roberts wasted little time showing why they were named to the All-Southern conference softball team on Wednesday.
Roberts gave the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga an early boost with a first-inning, leadoff home run, and Henderson had a career day in the pitching circle as the No. 2-seeded Lady Mocs beat Appalachian State 3-0 in the opening game of the SoCon tournament in Greensboro, N.C.
Henderson struck out a career best 15 to tie the SoCon tournament record and pick up the complete-game victory. She allowed six hits and no walks to keep UTC in the winners bracket of the double elimination tournament.
Henderson's big day was needed on a quiet day for the UTC offense which managed only five hits over six innings, but Roberts first-inning blast proved to be all the offense Henderson would need.
"It was important for us to win the first game of the tournament," UTC coach Frank Reed said in a released statement. "Katie pitched an amazing game and the offense was aggressive to begin the game. I would like to see a little more aggression at the plate, but I am overall please by our performance."
After Roberts home run, Appalachian State held UTC scoreless until the bottom of the fifth inning when Sam Taylor hit a one-out single, advanced on a groundout by Roberts and scored on a single by Alyssa Taylor. Kaiti Dutton's RBI single in the sixth scored Nicole Osterman with another insurance run.
UTC will be back in action today at 2 p.m. against Furman, which edged Western Carolina 4-3 on Wednesday.
In other action at the SoCon softball tournament Samford beat Elon 3-0, and No. 1 seed Georgia Southern shut out Elon 4-0, with GSU pitcher Sarah Purvis throwing a no-hitter.
Former Soddy-Daisy standout Kelsey Nunley pitched nine tough innings to help the Wildcats claim a 4-3 win over Mississippi State in extra innings on the opening day of the Southeastern Conference tournament in Columbia, S.C.
Nunley allowed three runs on six hits and a walk with four strikeouts, with all the Bulldogs runs coming in the sixth inning. But she held MSU scoreless in extra innings until third baseman Nikki Sagermann's walk-off RBI single scored Ansley Smith with the winning run.
The seventh-seeded Wildcats advance No. 2 seed Tennessee today at 1:30 p.m.
Jim Tanner has worked as assistant sports editor at the Times Free Press since late 2006. He started at the Times Free Press in 2001 and worked as a news copy/design editor from 2001 through 2006. In addition to working as a night and weekend editor producing local and national sports coverage for print and online readers, Jim occasionally writes local sports and outdoors stories. Jim grew up in Ringgold, Ga., and is a graduate ...