CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – No. 1 seed UNCG (33-22) came from behind to take the lead and fought off a late Mocs rally to defeat No. 3 seed Chattanooga (36-15) 4-3 on Saturday afternoon in the SoCon Softball Championship title game at Jim Frost Stadium, handing UTC its first loss of the tournament and forcing a second game between the pair.
Chattanooga, the designated visitors, took the lead in the top half of the second inning as senior Amanda Beltran and sophomore Cameren Swafford, who earned her first start of the season, rattled off back-to-back doubles. Beltran, down 0-2 in the count, sent one deep to right and beat the throw into second base. On the fourth pitch of her at-bat, Swafford took a pitch from UNCG pitcher Stephanie Bryden to straight-away center, well over the head of center fielder Makenna Matthijs.
Melanie Darges, who entered the contest hitting a league-best .667 in the tournament, reached base and advanced to second on an error in the bottom of the second, but the Mocs got Kayleigh Willis to fly out to right field and escaped the threat.
Hayleigh Weissenbach reached on an error in the top of the fourth. Aly Walker followed with a long single to center field, just missing her sixth home run of the season, and Emma Sturdivant kept the momentum rolling with a single to left center to load the bases with one out. Halie Williamson, who went 2-for-3 with two doubles in the 3-1 Chattanooga win over UNCG on Friday, worked Bryden to a full count before grounding to third base, where SoCon all-freshman performer Gabi Howard went home to get the out. Beltran came to the plate with bases still loaded, but Bryden struck her out to end the inning.
UNCG didn’t get its first hit of the game until the bottom of the fourth, when Howard began the inning with a single up the middle. Matthijs hit a sharp grounder to third and Swafford got Howard out at second before Celie Hudson struck out Katie Stetter for the second out of the inning. A hit by Darges dropped in shallow right field and Matthijs made her way to third base. Hudson, pitching to Willis, induced a ground ball to second base and got out of the inning.
Chattanooga got a hit from Weissenbach and Walker drew a walk to put Mocs on first and second with one out in the top of the fifth. Bryden, however, got Sturdivant to fly out to right and Williamson to ground to short.
The tides turned in UNCG’s favor in the bottom of the fifth. Monica Pepe singled to begin the inning and Delaney Cumbie followed with a single of her own to center field. Marisa Sholtes, a second-team all-conference selection, homered down the right field line to put UNCG in front 3-1. Bryden, batting third in the lineup, came to the plate and belted a shot to left center field, her third long ball of the year.
With two outs in the top of the sixth, Devan Brown singled to right field before Alyssa Coppinger hit a two-run home run to left field and pulled the Mocs within one, 4-3, though it wasn’t quite enough as the Spartans held on for the win.
UNCG was well-rounded offensively as seven different players accounted for the Spartans’ seven hits, while Walker led the Mocs, going 3-for-3 at the plate.
Bryden pitched five innings and recorded the win, while Kylie Bouplon was credited with a save. Hudson went the distance, pitching six innings in the loss.
Top 2nd – Chattanooga 1, UNCG 0: Back-to-back doubles by Amanda Beltran and Cameren Swafford plated the first run for the Mocs.
Bottom 5th – UNCG 3, Chattanooga 1: Monica Pepe and Delaney Cumbie began the inning with back-to-back singles and Marisa Sholtes hit a three-run home run down the right field line.
UNCG 4, Chattanooga 1: Stephanie Bryden hit a solo home run to left field.
Top 6th – UNCG 4, Chattanooga 3: Devan Brown singled and Alyssa Coppinger hit a two-run home run to left field.
2019 SoCon Softball Championship
Frost Stadium ▪ Chattanooga, Tenn.
Wednesday, May 8
Game 1: No. 5 ETSU 5, No. 4 Mercer 1
Game 2: No. 7 Western Carolina 6, No. 2 Samford 4
Game 3: No. 3 Chattanooga 9, No. 6 Furman 5
Thursday, May 9
Game 4: No. 2 Samford 7, No. 6 Furman 0
Game 5: No. 1 UNCG 9, No. 5 ETSU 1
Game 6: No. 3 Chattanooga 2, No. 7 Western Carolina 1
Game 7: No. 5 ETSU 5, No. 2 Samford 2 (8 innings)
Friday, May 10
Game 8: No. 4 Mercer 7, No. 7 Western Carolina 4
Game 9: No. 3 Chattanooga 3, No. 1 UNCG 1
Game 10: No. 4 Mercer 6, No. 5 ETSU 1
Game 11: No. 1 UNCG 9, No. 4 Mercer 7
Saturday, May 11
Game 12: No. 1 UNCG 4, No. 3 Chattanooga 3
Game 13: No. 1 UNCG vs. No. 3 Chattanooga, 7:45 p.m., ESPN+
All times are Eastern.