After falling behind early, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga softball team erupted on offense Friday for a 9-3 nonconference win over Middle Tennessee State at Jim Frost Stadium.
Leadoff batter and third baseman Sarah Beth Roberts keyed the Lady Mocs' barrage with two home runs as UTC outhit the Blue Raiders 12-9.
MTSU's Laura Dukes hit a two-run homer in the top of the first off Katie Henderson, but Roberts quickly cut the margin in half with her leadoff homer in the bottom of the first. The Lady Mocs had a chance to add more runs but left two runners stranded.
An inning later, though, Sam Taylor singled with two outs and Roberts followed with a towering shot down the left-field line that was ruled just fair. UTC pushed its lead to 4-2 when Alyssa Taylor scored on a single by Nicole Osterman.
"I just came out with my head clear today," Roberts said. "I just try to come out and play the game my best every day."
The Lady Mocs (25-17) loaded the bases in the third inning and scored two unearned runs when Alyssa Taylor's grounder was misplayed, and they made it 7-2 in the fourth on a single by Marina Wilkerson after Criket Blanco's double and a walk for Kaiti Dutton, who scored on an error.
UTC added another unearned run in the sixth inning.
The Lady Mocs had chances to end the game after five innings via the eight-run rule, but they left 11 runners on the bases.
"It's aways good when we get to go home early, but as long as we get the [win] and can keep scoring and pounding on them, that's our goal," Robers said. "We don't want to take a weekend off, and [we want to] just try to stay hot."
Roberts was 3-for-4 with three RBIs, and Osterman also was 3-for-4. Henderson got the pitching win, giving up four hits in four innings, and junior Taylor Deason pitched the final three innings. Deason held the Blue Raiders scoreless until the seventh, when they loaded the bases on three infield hits and scored a run on a fielder's choice.
"Our pitchers were both OK today, but I didn't think they were as sharp as they had been," UTC coach Frank Reed said. "There have been times when they've been much sharper and we haven't gotten wins, but we backed it up with a lot of offense."
Reed said the Lady Mocs responded well in a busy week in the classroom.
"We gave them two days off because it's finals week and they're all just a bit overwhelmed," he said. "You worry when you give them two days off about how they're going to come back strong. But our hitting came back strong today.
"We're just still trying to build for down the road. I think this team can still get on a run and do great things."
UTC and MTSU will face off again today at noon, and the Lady Mocs will return to Southern Conference action next weekend with a trip to league leader Georgia Southern for a three-game series.
Contact Jim Tanner at email@example.com or 423-757-6478. Follow him at twitter.com/JFTanner.
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 ...