With pitching leading the way, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga softball team is in the Southern Conference tournament championship game for the first time since 2011.
Taylor Deason and Katie Henderson combined for a three-hit shutout Friday as No. 2 seed UTC downed Samford 1-0 for a spot in today's winner-take-all single game against tournament host UNC Greensboro at 1 p.m.
The Lady Mocs (33-19) struck for an early run and held on for the victory. Third baseman and leadoff batter Sarah Beth Roberts started the game with an infield single, moved around to third on a pair of groundouts and scored the only run of the game on a single by Nicole Osterman.
From there it was another strong day for the UTC pitching staff. Deason started and allowed two hits and a walk in the first three innings before passing the ball to Henderson, who continued her outstanding tournament by allowing a single hit over the final four innings while striking out five.
Henderson has pitched 17 scoreless innings in the tournament with 27 strikeouts and three wins.
Roberts and Sam Taylor each went 2-for-3 for the Lady Mocs, who were held to five hits by Samford pitcher Mollie Hanson.
UTC was aiming for a showdown with No. 1 seed Georgia Southern, but UNCG sent the Eagles packing with two wins Friday. Coming out of the losers bracket, the Spartans opened with a 2-1 win before routing GSU 11-2 in an elimination game.
The single-game final is a change this season, the winner earning the league's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
Former Soddy-Daisy High School ace Kelsey Nunley continued her strong performance at the Southeastern Conference tournament Friday, pitching all nine innings of the Wildcats' 4-3 win over LSU for a berth in the title game tonight at Columbia, S.C.
Nunley has pitched all 25 innings of UK's three wins in the tournament. She allowed six hits and struck out six against LSU, which lost despite Baylee Corbello allowing the Wildcats only two hits (but with five walks and four hit batters). Sylver Samuel had two RBIs in the win.
Kentucky will face Georgia in the title game tonight at 8. The Lady Bulldogs beat Alabama 5-3 on Friday.