Softball to host conference rival Chattanooga this weekend

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. ---- The Samford softball team will play host to its Southern Conference rival, the Chattanooga Lady Mocs, this weekend for the second of three home series the Bulldogs will host in the next week. The two teams will play a doubleheader on Saturday starting at 1 p.m., followed by a single game on Sunday at the same time.

The Bulldogs split a midweek series with Murray State on Wednesday, winning the first game (5-0) before dropping the second game (11-3). After hosting Chattanooga this weekend, Samford will welcome Mercer to campus on Tuesday for a doubleheader before heading out on the road until April 15.

Samford (9-15, 1-5 SoCon) and Chattanooga (19-8, 3-0 SoCon) have met 32 times before with the Lady Mocs taking 25 of those contests. Last season, the Bulldogs visited Chattanooga and dropped two games before winning the final.

The first game went to eight innings due to a 3-3 tie before Chattanooga hit a three-run home run to win the game. In the second game, Stephanie Royall pitched a complete game and struck out five batters, giving up just one run and the Mocs won, 1-0. The third game was all Samford. The Bulldogs scored three runs in the first and one in the second before Aaren Fisher hit a two-run home run in third to win the game, 6-0.

However, the last time the two teams met was in the semifinals of the 2009 Southern Conference Tournament last May. The Bulldogs made a run in the final weeks of the season to get into seventh place in the standings and make their first Southern Conference Tournament appearance. Samford then defeated College of Charleston (6-1) and Appalachian State (3-1) before meeting Chattanooga in the semifinal round.

The Bulldogs led, 2-1, early in the game but the Lady Mocs tied the score in the fifth before winning in the bottom of the seventh inning with a lead-off home run.

Chattanooga would go on to beat Georgia Southern to take home the Tournament Championship.

"Chattanooga knows how to win," Samford Head Coach Beanie Ketcham said. "That's really the biggest thing. They expect to win and they know how to win. Losing to them in the tournament last year left a bad taste in our players' mouths so they should be seeking vengeance this time around.

"We've got to come out and play one pitch at a time, one out at a time, one inning at a time and fight hard. We definitely have an uphill climb and challenge before us this weekend, but it's nice that we are playing at home. It's an opportunity to make up some ground and they always rise to the challenge and play better against tougher competition."

Samford Athletics has two events coinciding with softball's Chattanooga series and baseball's Furman series this weekend. Beginning at 1:30 p.m. in the lower lot of the Pete Hanna Center, the Student Athletic Advisory Committee will be holding a cornhole tournament to benefit the Jim Griffin Memorial Scholarship Fund. Also students and staff will participate in the first round of the Samford Home Run Derby, starting in the break of the softball doubleheader. Three contestants will compete during the break while the rest will compete after the second game is over.

The cornhole tournament costs $5 for a two-person team. Admission to the softball games is free. A full recap and results will be available on upon the completion of each day's competition.