Two pitches, two Appalachian State home runs and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga softball team finds itself back at .500 in the Southern Conference standings.
The Mountaineers scored all their runs Sunday on home runs by Sarah Warnock and Lindsay Loudermilk and defeated UTC 5-1 to avoid being swept in the weekend series at Jim Frost Stadium.
UTC (18-15, 3-3 SoCon) starting pitcher Rachel Albritton allowed five hits and struck out six over seven innings, but the freshman allowed a three-run home run by Loudermilk in the fourth inning and a two-run shot by Warnock in the fifth. That was all the offense the Mountaineers (12-11, 6-3) would get, but it was more than enough to get the win.
"They saw me a little bit yesterday and saw a majority of the same pitches, and they took advantage of it," Albritton said. "And they're good hitters.
"I'm going to keep trying to get better. There's some things that I could have done better in the game, but you can't get down about it. You've just got to keep working on it."
Sophomore pitcher Taylor Deason had been used in relief in recent games, but coach Frank Reed stuck with Albritton because of the Lady Mocs' lack of offense.
"There was no sense in bringing Deason in if you don't have runs to back it up," he said. "Even when it was a 3-0 game we needed some runs to justify changing pitchers at that point."
"This is Division I softball, and you have to be ready to step up."
UTC sputtered all day, with the Lady Mocs managing only four hits against Appalachian State starter Alissa Schoelkopf. UTC got its single run on a sacrifice fly by senior second baseman Sara Poteat in the fifth inning and left six baserunners stranded.
"I'm not really sure what happened, but I know that none of us lost faith in the dugout," senior first baseman Kasey Tydingco said after the game. "All of us wanted to step up and be the one today, but we just couldn't get it done."
Reed said his team needs to be more aggressive at the plate and on the bases from the beginning of each game.
"The bottom line is it boils down to us scoring early," he said. "That takes the momentum from them and has them hanging on every pitch instead of feeling like they're hanging right there with us and then it gets out of hand."
UTC will host Georgia State for a nonconference doubleheader Wednesday starting at 5 p.m. before returning to SoCon action this weekend with a trip to Western Carolina for a three-game series and another chance to move up in the league standings.
"We're honestly trying to figure it out," Tydingco said. "In past years we've never been in this type of situation.
"It's really going to take a lot of team chemistry, and not just one person can step up [and turn things around]."