After an 11-day, 10-game trip to Florida and a humbling sweep by Southern Conference foe Mercer, suddenly the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga softball team is more cohesive. Playing a lot better.
The Mocs picked up their fourth consecutive victory and sixth in seven games Wednesday night, using a strong pitching performance by Celie Hudson and timely hitting to beat the University of Alabama at Birmingham 3-1 in a nonconference matchup at Frost Stadium.
The Mocs (20-22, 5-4) return to SoCon play this weekend by hosting Furman (31-10, 3-3) this weekend. A doubleheader is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday, with the series finale set for 2 p.m. Sunday.
After a 3-0 loss to Belmont on March 7, UTC coach Frank Reed was frustrated with the state of his ballclub, bemoaning the fact that perhaps some selfishness had settled in. The Florida trip was right on time, with the Mocs going 6-5 and developing a level of cohesion that has remained.
"We kind of gathered together. We ate together, played together, went to the beach together," Reed said of the change during the Florida trip, adding that the team went to a Philadelphia Phillies spring training game as well. "When we came back, you could just feel we were a different ballclub. You could just feel it in the dugout.
"I told them at the beginning of the year, that when we became a team, we were going to start winning. You play as a team, you're going to get results. I love this team right now."
Against UAB (15-26-1), Hudson (9-10) threw 97 pitches, 61 for strikes, while scattering three hits, and the run she allowed was unearned.
Although UTC left eight runners on base, the Mocs took advantage of some opportunities in the fourth inning on a bloop single to left by Katie Corum that scored Brook Womack, followed by Morgan Kazerooni's pinch-hit single that scored Aly Walker.
There were no multi-hit performances for UTC, but seven Mocs had a hit, with Ashley Conner's a double, and Emma Sturdivant added an RBI. Along with Hudson's pitching, it was enough to help the Mocs maintain their hot streak.
"Coach Reed has been preaching teamwork, coming together as a team all year," Walker said. "There's something special about this team and we knew it in the fall, so we're excited it's paying off on the field. These games are momentum builders for us.
"It was a good night."
Amid a string of good nights.
Contact Gene Henley at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @genehenleytfp.