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Miscues Help Mocs Rally Past Paladins In SoCon Tournament Opener, 9-5

Taylor Vahle
Taylor Vahle

Chattanooga, Tenn. -- No. 3 seed Chattanooga took advantage of four Furman errors to erase a 4-0 deficit and claim an 9-5 win over the sixth-seeded Paladins in the opening round of the Southern Conference Softball Championship Wednesday afternoon at Frost Stadium in Chattanooga, Tenn.

The Paladins (13-37) will take on No. 2 seed Samford in an elimination game Thursday at Frost Stadium. First pitch for Thursday's game has been moved up to 9 a.m. due to the threat of inclement weather later in the day. Chattanooga (34-14) will face No. 7 seed Western Carolina at approximately 2 p.m. Both games will be streamed live on the SoCon Digital Network.

Furman got on the board with a four-run rally in the top of the third inning against SoCon Pitcher of the Year Celie Hudson. Lauren Duggar reached on an infield single and Marissa Guimbarda crushed a two-run home run down the left field line that cleared Frost Stadium's outer fence and bounced into the trees beneath the railroad tracks. Two walks and a single loaded the bases for Furman and Taylor Vahle knocked in two more runs with a ground-rule double down the right field line.

Chattanooga answered in the bottom of the inning. Alyssa Coppinger reached on a dropped fly ball in left field and Emily Coltharp lined a single off the leg of starter Emily DeMonte to put runners on the corners. Hayleigh Weissenbach delivered a sacrifice fly to center field to get the Mocs on the board and Aly Walker followed with an RBI double to right-center to trim the margin to 4-2. Emily Sturdivant followed with a two-run blast to left field to knot the score at 4-4.

Furman threatened in the top of the fourth with runners on the corners, but a strikeout got the Mocs out of a jam. Chattanooga took the lead in the bottom of the frame. Katie Corum lined a leadoff single inside the third base bag, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt that was misplayed by Furman and scored on a second Paladin error. A dropped popup allowed two more runs to score and Sturdivant ripped a double to left field to up the margin to 8-4.

Taylor Vahle trimmed the Chattanooga lead to 8-5 with a two-out homer in the top of the fifth inning and Furman loaded the bases with a walk and two singles, but reliever Allison Swinford got Mackense Greico looking at strike three to leave the bases loaded.

Swinford (9-3) picked up the win by limiting the Paladins to a run on five hits over 3.2 innings of relief work. The right-hander struck out seven and walked two.

DeMonte (11-18) took the loss after giving up nine runs, just four earned, on 10 hits over six innings. She walked two batters and fanned two.

Sturdivant went 3-for-3 with a double, homer and four RBIs to pace the Chattanooga offense, while Coppinger and Walker each scored two runs. Duggar collected three hits for Furman and Vahle finished 2-for-3 with a double, homer and three RBIs.