The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga softball team completed a very successful weekend with a 3-0 win over Furman for a three-game Southern Conference series sweep.
The Lady Mocs (17-13, 4-1 SoCon) again had a solid pitching performance, with sophomore Katie Henderson allowing one hit and one walk over five innings to pick up her eighth win of the season. Junior Taylor Deason pitched the last two innings to earn her third save of the season.
Henderson and Deason each had complete-game wins on Saturday, and they allowed no earned runs over the entire series.
"Me and Taylor sat down and talked, and we said if we can't get our defense to back us up, then we have to do everything we can to make sure we take care of our business and give them the opportunity to make plays behind us," Henderson said. "And I think they did that better this weekend, so we were able to work together not just as a pitching staff but with the defense, as well.
"I just take it game by game and try to win every game. If we just go out there and sweep every weekend, then we won't have to worry about it."
UTC coach Frank Reed said Henderson and Deason are versatile enough to give opposing batters different looks over a weekend series.
"The combination of Deason and Henderson is really good because they are different kinds of pitchers," he said. "And what we tried to do today was to change they way they look, especially with Henderson because she started.
"We wanted her to look different than she did yesterday, and the way you do that is to focus on a different pitch. Yesterday, we focused on the changeup and some inside-out pitches, but today we had her pitch the ball up more."
UTC took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning when Jesslyn Stockard hit a lead off double and later scored on a hit by third baseman Sarah Beth Roberts.
Lady Mocs added two more runs in the bottom of the fourth inning on RBI hits by outfielder Sam Taylor and catcher Anyssa Robles, but UTC stranded 11 baserunners on the day including leaving the bases loaded on two occasions.
Robles continued her strong season with two hits in the win over the Paladins. Robles leads UTC in batting average at .341, and her 30 hits are also a team best.
"I just try to hit for my team," she said. "I try to put the ball in play and do whatever the team needs me to do."
UTC is in second place in the SoCon, a half game behind Georgia Southern because one of their games at Appalachian State was rained out.
"We just need to make sure that we keep winning," Robles said. "The rainout really hurts because Georgia Southern has one more win than we do. So it's really important for us to keep winning and see what happens."
UTC will be on the road next weekend for a three-game series at UNC Greensboro, and Reed said he wants his players to take their success from the Furman series and build on it going forward.
"You build on that every game's important and you can't let up," he said. "We're going into Greensboro, and they absolutely despise us ... and they'll be pumped to play us. So you hope that the team can build on that and that they get it."
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 ...