No. 4 Chattanooga Opens Play With 3-1 Win
GREENSBORO, N.C. – The No. 4 seed Chattanooga Mocs earned the first win of the 2018 SoCon Softball Championship by a score of 3-1 on Wednesday at the UNCG Softball Stadium. With the win, the Mocs (26-28) advance to face No. 1 seed UNCG while No. 5 Samford (18-37) will play at 8 p.m. on Thursday in a must-win game.
All three runs in the first inning were scored with two outs as Samford took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first before Chattanooga answered with two of its own, making it a 2-1 contest after one inning of play. The Mocs continued their hot hitting in the second inning with their second home run of the day, this time a solo shot to right center field to make it a two-run lead.
The Bulldogs had scoring opportunities in the third and fourth innings, with runners on second and third in both frames, but Chattanooga pitcher Celie Hudson got out of both jams to preserve the Mocs’ 3-1 lead. The sophomore scattered six hits in 6.0 innings of work with one strikeout.
Samford threatened again in the top of the seventh after All-SoCon second team and All-Freshman team selection Ashlyn Barnes lined a double to left center field with two outs. Lexie Higgins then walked to give Samford runners on first and second with two outs but Chattanooga freshman pitcher Allison Swinford forced a fly out to end the game, earning her third save of the season and sealing the opening-day win for the Mocs.
Offensively, All-SoCon first team selection Brook Womack led Chattanooga with two hits and two RBIs while the Mocs totaled seven hits in the win. For the Bulldogs, SoCon Player of the Year Shelby Maze finished 2-for-4 with one run scored.
Top 1st – Samford 1, Chattanooga 0: Shelby Maze scored from third on a single to the shortstop by Hannah Trombley with two outs
Bottom 1st – Chattanooga 2, Samford 1: Aly Walker scored from first on a home run to center field by Brook Womack with two outs
Bottom 2nd – Chattanooga 3, Samford 1: Amanda Beltran hit a solo home run to right center field with one out
Five-Run Inning Propels No. 2 Mercer Past No. 7 Western Carolina
GREENSBORO, N.C. – Heading into the bottom of the fifth inning trailing 6-1, No. 2 seed Mercer rallied with seven runs in the final two frames to earn an 8-7 win over No. 7 seed Western Carolina. The Bears (33-17) will now face the winner of No. 3 Furman and No. 6 ETSU while the Catamounts (15-36) will play at 10 a.m. on Thursday in a must-win game. Mercer’s five-run deficit marked the largest SoCon Tournament come-from-behind win in tournament history.
Western Carolina scored first in the contest thanks to a towering home run by Abigail Daniels that scored Hunter Gibbons to give the Catamounts a 2-0 lead.
Mercer was able to get one run back after a bases-loaded walk by Emma Andrew scored All-SoCon first team outfielder Meghan Rud, making it 2-1 after three complete. The Catamounts answered with four runs, all with two outs, in their next at bat, breaking the contest wide open to take a 6-1 lead.
The Bears pulled back within three in the bottom of the fifth inning after a two-run home run by Caroline Taylor to right center field scored All-SoCon first team selection Megan Lane. The home run was the 14th of the year for Taylor.
In the top of the sixth inning, Western Carolina answered with a run of its own as Danielle Chapman scored from second on a line-drive single to center field by Erica Hayes, giving the Catamounts a 7-3 lead.
With one out in the bottom of the sixth inning, Mercer started its comeback. Lane got things started with a bloop single over the second baseman’s head to scored Shaila Warren and make it just a three-run game. One batter later, Taylor recorded her second hit of the day with a single to deep left center field, scoring two to pull the Bears within one. Then three pitches later, Mercer tied the game after Lane scored from third on a throwing error by the Catamounts. The Bears took the lead for good with the next batter, as Andrew singled through the left side to score Taylor and make it an 8-7 game. Western Carolina was able to get out of the inning after throwing out two Bears at home for the double play but Mercer finished with six hits in the inning.
Offensively, the Bears finished with 11 hits and were led by Rud’s 3-for-3 effort with two runs scored. Lane and Taylor each finished with two hits while Taylor tallied a game-high four RBIs. In the circle, second team All-SoCon selection Stella Preston earned her 12th win of the season, throwing four innings and striking out four.
The Catamounts had Shaina Reed, Hayes and Daniels each finish with two RBIs in the contest and tallied nine hits as a team.
Top 2nd – Western Carolina 2, Mercer 0: Hunter Gibbons scored from first on a home run to right center field by Abigail Daniels with one out
Bottom 3rd – Western Carolina 2, Mercer 1: Meghan Rud scored from third on a walk by Emma Andrew with two outs
Top 4th – Western Carolina 3, Mercer 1: Abigail Daniels scored from second on a double to right center field by Erica Hayes with two outs
Top 4th – Western Carolina 4, Mercer 1: Erica Hayes scored from second on a single through the right side by Ashlyn Long and a fielding error by the catcher with two outs
Top 4th – Western Carolina 6, Mercer 1: Ashlyn Long scored from third on a home run to center field by Shaina Reed with two outs
Bottom 5th – Western Carolina 6, Mercer 3: Megan Lane scored from first on a home run to right center field by Caroline Taylor with no outs
Top 6th – Western Carolina 7, Mercer 3: Danielle Chapman scored from second on a single to center field by Erica Hayes with one out
Bottom 6th – Western Carolina 7, Mercer 4: Shaila Warren scored from third on a single to second base by Megan Lane with one out
Bottom 6th – Western Carolina 7, Mercer 6: Meghan Rud scored from third and Laurenne Sanchez scored from second on a single to left center field by Caroline Taylor with one out
Bottom 6th – Western Carolina 7, Mercer 7: Megan Lane scored from third on a single by Quirisa Mauga and a throwing error by the pitcher with one out
Bottom 6th – Mercer 8, Western Carolina 7: Caroline Taylor scored from third on a single through the left side by Emma Andrew with one out
No. 6 ETSU Tops No. 3 Furman, 4-1
GREENSBORO, N.C. – No. 6 seed ETSU topped No. 3 seed Furman, 4-1, on Wednesday afternoon at the UNCG Softball Stadium, advancing to face No. 2 Mercer Thursday at 3 p.m. The Bucs, who are the reigning tournament champions, have now won five consecutive games in the SoCon Tournament dating back to last season. All five runs scored in the game came via home runs.
It took just six pitches into the game before a run crossed the plate as Nikki Grupp gave the Bucs a 1-0 lead with a solo home run to left field. The score remained 1-0 before ETSU homered again in the top of the fourth inning as Kelsey Smith extended the Bucs’ lead to 4-0.
ETSU pitcher Madison Ogle held the Paladins scoreless until the bottom of the fifth inning when All-SoCon first team selection Casey Bigham hit a home run to center field to make it a 4-1 game. But that would be the only run Ogle surrendered as the senior struck out six and scattered five hits in the complete-game effort.
As a team, ETSU recorded six hits. All-Freshman team selection Lauren Lee led the Bucs with a 3-for-4 effort at the plate including a double.
Furman finished the contest with five hits. SoCon Pitcher of the Year Lindsey Bert threw a complete game, striking out nine and giving up six hits.
Top 1st – ETSU 1, Furman 0: Nikki Grupp hit a solo home run to left field with two outs
Top 4th – ETSU 4, Furman 0: Vanessa Elliott scored from third, Tiffany Laughren scored from first on a home run to left center field by Kelsey Smith with two outs
Bottom 5th – ETSU 4, Furman 1: Casey Bigham hit a solo home run to center field with one out
2018 SoCon Softball Championship
UNCG Softball Stadium ▪ Greensboro, North Carolina
Wednesday, May 9
Game 1: No. 4 Chattanooga 3, No. 5 Samford 1
Game 2: No. 2 Mercer 8, No. 7 Western Carolina 7
Game 3: No. 6 ETSU 4, No. 3 Furman 1
Thursday, May 10
Game 4: No. 3 Furman vs. No. 7 Western Carolina, 10 a.m., SDN
Game 5: No. 1 UNCG vs. No. 4 Chattanooga, 12:30 p.m., SDN
Game 6: No. 2 Mercer vs. No. 6 ETSU, 3 p.m., SDN
Game 7: Loser of Game 5 vs. Winner of Game 4, 5:30 p.m., SDN
Game 8: No. 5 Samford vs. Loser of Game 6, 8 p.m., SDN
Friday, May 11
Game 9: Winner of Game 5 vs. Winner of Game 6, Noon, SDN
Game 10: Winner of Game 7 vs. Winner of Game 8, 2:30 p.m., SDN
Game 11: Loser of Game 9 vs. Winner of Game 10, 5 p.m., SDN
Saturday, May 12
Game 12: Winner of Game 9 vs. Winner of Game 11, 1 p.m., ESPN+
Game 13: IF NECESSARY, 3 p.m., ESPN+
All times are Eastern.