Jenny Garcia made sure her family's visit to Chattanooga from Miami this weekend was one to remember.
The redshirt freshman outfielder hit her first collegiate home run in the second game of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga softball team's doubleheader sweep of Southern Conference foe Appalachian State. UTC won 8-3 and 5-3 on a cold day at Jim Frost Stadium.
"This is the first time [my family] were all together here at once," Garcia said. "I'm so glad they were here to see my first home run."
Garcia missed all of last season after suffering a knee injury, and UTC coach Frank Reed has been hoping to get her on track to give the team some help on offense.
"I just had a good feeling that this was going to be her day to get some confidence and break out," he said. "I felt like she was seeing the ball well, so hopefully this will boost her confidence.
"I'm happy for Jenny. She needed that and she gave the team a boost."
In the opening game, UTC (18-14, 3-2) took quick control with four runs on one hit and added three runs in a second inning highlighted by catcher Ninjja Suetsugu's two-run single.
"We're still not getting the hits like I felt like we should have gotten," Reed said after the Lady Mocs were outhit 18-12 on the day. "But we got them in the situations where we could score some runs."
Designated player Anyssa Robles had two hits in the first game, when center fielder Sam Taylor and first baseman Kasey Tydingco each scored two runs.
Appalachian State (11-11, 5-3) took the early lead in game two with a two-run second inning, but UTC used two Mountaineers errors to score three runs in the bottom of the inning.
After Appalachian tied the game at 3, UTC took advantage of a two-out throwing error in the fourth inning that allowed second baseman Sara Poteat to reach base and Suetsugu to score from third. Two innings later, Garcia's home run provided some insurance and gave her family a lasting memory of their visit to the Scenic City.
Sophomore Taylor Deason was the winning pitcher in both games, coming in to relieve Rachel Albritton and Kaisey Carson. Deason pitched 8 2/3 innings of scoreless relief to give the Lady Mocs the opportunity to win.
"We knew we needed to bring the momentum into these games," she said. "I just know that I have to be there for my team. If one of them is struggling, I know I can pick them up. And I know that they can pick me up if I'm struggling."
UTC and Appalachian State will play the final game of the series today with the first pitch scheduled at 2 p.m.
Jim Tanner has worked as assistant sports editor at the Times Free Press since late 2006. He started at the Times Free Press in 2001 and worked as a news copy/design editor from 2001 through 2006. In addition to working as a night and weekend editor producing local and national sports coverage for print and online readers, Jim occasionally writes local sports and outdoors stories. Jim grew up in Ringgold, Ga., and is a graduate ...