The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga softball team came out with a vengeance in the deciding game of the Southern Conference tournament Saturday night at Jim Frost Stadium.
After a 4-3 loss to top-seeded UNC Greensboro in a twice-delayed championship round opener, the Mocs opened game two with nine runs in the first inning to spark a 10-1 title-clinching win. The game ended after five innings due to the NCAA mercy rule.
No. 3 seed UTC (37-15) won its 14th SoCon title and will advance to the NCAA tournament. The team's placement in next weekend's regional round will be announced this afternoon.
UTC used back-to-back doubles from Amanda Beltran and Cameren Swafford to plate a run in the second inning of game one and took that lead into the fifth inning. The Spartans, though, got consecutive singles to lead off that inning before Marisa Sholtes hit a three-run homer to dead right off Mocs ace Celie Hudson.
Stephanie Bryden followed with a solo homer, which proved to be the winning run when UTC's Alyssa Coppinger hit a two-out, two-run homer in the sixth. The Mocs had a runner on second in the seventh but could not push the tying run across.
Game two was all UTC. Having forced UNCG ace Bryden into 96 pitches in game one after she pitched twice Friday, the Spartans elected to go with Kylie Bouplon, and the Mocs — and her defense — greeted her rudely.
Emily Coltharp and Hayleigh Weissenbach led the game off with singles before Aly Walker and Emma Sturdivant reached on infield errors, with two runs scoring. Halie Williamson loaded the bases with a single before Beltran launched a grand slam to right-center for a 6-0 lead.
The onslaught continued after Bryden was brought in to replace Bouplon, including Walker's two-run single. The Mocs sent 13 batters to the plate in the big frame.
Allison Swinford started game two in the circle and earned the win with one run allowed on three hits.