Mercer hits UTC hard to sweep opening SoCon softball series

Mercer completed a sweep of its Southern Conference softball series with the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga on Sunday, winning 11-0 at Frost Stadium in a game shortened to five innings by the mercy rule.

The Mocs (14-20, 0-3), who were outscored 19-4 in the series, return to competition next weekend at Samford (10-24, 1-1).

Much like in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader, the Mocs had no answer for Bears pitcher Stella Preston. After throwing six innings of one-hit ball in relief in the series opener, which the Bears won 6-3 in nine innings, Preston scattered four hits Sunday.

Allison Swinford (5-8) was charged with the loss for the Mocs. The freshman gave up seven runs (four earned) on seven hits and two walks with one strikeout in 1 2/3 innings.

Mercer (22-10, 3-0) pounded UTC pitching for 11 hits, with the Mocs doing themselves no favors by committing four errors, each of them leading to a run. The visitors took a 4-0 lead after an inning, with only one of the runs earned, and scored at least one run in each inning Sunday.

The Mocs had four hits: two by Aly Walker, including a second-inning double, and one each by Amanda Beltran and Brook Womack.

UTC’s series at Samford will start Saturday with a 4 p.m. doubleheader. The finale is at 1 p.m. Sunday.

Split for tennis teams

The UTC women’s tennis team won 4-2 at Alabama State in Montgomery on Sunday, when the UTC men lost 5-2 in SoCon play at Wofford in Spartanburg, S.C.

The UTC women (7-5) took the doubles point on wins by Caroline Hall and Bogdana Zaporozhets, and Tamri Chalaganidze and Annie Tarwater, then had singles victories by Samantha Caswell at No. 1, Chalaganidze at No. 3 and Emma Van Hee at No. 4.

They are back in action Friday with a 10 a.m. match at Furman in Greenville, S.C.

In the men’s match, Simon Bustamante (No. 2) and Luke Plaisted (No. 4) had wins for the Mocs (6-11, 1-3), both in three-set matches. UTC has lost three straight SoCon matches since beating The Citadel 4-3 on Feb. 23 to halt a 15-match losing streak against league competition.

UTC will take a break from conference play with its next match, set for 2 p.m. Wednesday at Alabama A&M (2-5).

Contact Gene Henley at Follow him on Twitter @genehenleytfp.

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