Freshman pitcher Taylor Deason is peaking at just the right time for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga softball team.
She allowed one run in seven innings while striking out seven as the second-seeded Lady Mocs beat College of Charleston 6-1 on Thursday. That put them in today's winners-bracket final at the Southern Conference tournament in Boone, N.C.
Deason held the Cougars scoreless through five innings while UTC (39-14) struggled to get going on offense against Charleston starter Stephanie Saylors.
"Thankfully I am a ground-ball pitcher," Deason said. "Although I am throwing the drop, I am working on every pitch, throwing them low and trying to get them to fish for it. I have to keep my pitches low."
The Lady Mocs did grab a 2-0 lead in the third inning courtesy of sacrifice flies from second baseman Sara Poteat and right fielder Stephanie Rieck, but they managed little more than that early.
In the top of the sixth inning, Charleston cut UTC's lead to 2-1 with a home run by Kelsey Hodgson, but that threat seemed to awaken the Lady Mocs' offense.
In the bottom of the sixth, designated player Michelle Fuzzard blasted her 16th home run of the season. After catcher Vivian Morimoto just missed a home run with a double, shortstop Jessica Traxler and third baseman Sarah Beth Roberts hit back-to-back one-out home runs to put the game out of reach.
"I struggled a little bit, but in my last at-bat I just focused on seeing the ball, not pulling my head out, and making sure I made contact," Traxler said. "Now we have to stay humble. We know there's a target on our back, and we need to take this momentum and carry it into the next game."
Roberts and Morimoto each had two hits.
In Thursday's late winners' semifinal, top-seeded Georgia Southern beat Appalachian State 6-0, setting up a showdown between UTC and the Eagles today at 3 p.m. GSU handed UTC its only two SoCon losses this season.