The Frost Classic softball tournament started out so well for its host team.
It didn't stay that way.
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga followed a 6-1 Saturday night loss to Boston College with an 8-0 loss to Missouri State on Sunday.
Coming off a strong finish at Auburn's tournament a week earlier, the Lady Mocs won two one-run games Friday at Jim Frost Stadium and then recovered from blowing a 4-0 lead Saturday against Miami (Ohio) to earn their sixth victory in a row with a ninth-inning grand slam.
But chinks that showed in the Lady Mocs' pitching and defense in that game became more obvious in their two after that, and the offense went missing also.
Sunday they started out well enough, as sophomore pitcher Taylor Deason struck out the first three batters and allowed only one hit through three innings. In the second, Kasey Tydingco reached first for UTC (7-7) on catcher's interference and took second on a splendid bunt by Stephanie Rieck, and Ninjja Suetsuga singled sharply with two outs but left fielder Lauren Eisenreich made a strong throw that barely nailed Tydingco at the plate.
That turned out to be UTC's best scoring chance, and Missouri State (7-8) took the lead in the top of the fourth. Kerri Cunningham led off with an infield hit and stole second, and Stevie Pierce homered to right field without even getting full extension.
"That's what you get with today's bats," UTC coach Frank Reed said. "The pitch wasn't that bad of a location, but it goes out on a checked swing. And when I sent Kasey in the second, had we scored and taken the early lead, would it have been a different game? Who knows?
"We've been able to rebound in some games, but today we misjudged a ball and had a couple of dink balls fall in against us, and the wheels started coming off a little bit."
The Bears added three runs in each of the last two innings, and Pierce and catcher Stacia Boeckstiegel each was 3-for-4 with three RBIs while Ali Trickey had a two-run double. Deason pitched the whole game and struck out 10 batters but gave up 11 hits. UTC managed only six, Rieck going 2-for-3.
"It doesn't leave a good taste in your mouth, but it makes you continue to work harder," Reed said. "We do have a young group and we're still trying to find the right lineup, but when you get a few good wins you sort of raise the bar a little further, a little further, a little further.
"I think it's just a matter of time for them to believe in themselves and find some consistency, but we've still got work to do. Ultimately we're out to win the [Southern] conference, and we're not to those games yet."
Lady Flames roll
Lee University beat visiting Asbury 19-0 and 23-1 in two five-inning softball games Saturday, as Angie Hughes and Caroline MacAusland combined to pitch a one-hitter before Katie Deems and MacAusland teamed for a two-hitter.
MacAusland struck out 11 batters in her four innings. Dezirae Parsons was 8-for-8 with six runs scored in the doubleheader for the Lady Flames (6-0); she had a home run and four RBIs in game one, when Charlie Wooden homered twice and drove in three and Meghan Macias was 3-for-4 and scored three times.
Ana Coscorrosa was 4-for-5 with a homer and five RBIs in game two, while Amanda Lynn was 4-for-4 with three RBIs and three runs, Jennifer Ringle was 3-for-5 with four RBIs and three runs, Laurel Allen was 3-for-4 with three runs and Macias had two hits and three RBIs.
Kelley drives in six
Sara Kelley hit a grand slam in the first game and matched former Ooltewah High School teammate Bri Shoemake with two hits and two RBIs in the second game as the Carson-Newman softball team won 7-3 and 9-1 over Concord on Saturday.
Freshman Kaitie Sims improved her pitching record to 7-0 in the opener, and fellow Baylor alumna Braleigh Angel was 2-for-3 and scored twice in game two, when Chattanooga State transfer Cassie Lyons got the pitching win.