Mercer softball beats Samford 2-0 to advance in SoCon Tourney

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (SOCON SPORTS) – SoCon Pitcher of the Year Kirsten Stevens tossed a six-hit shutout to lead Mercer to 2-0 victory over second-seeded Samford on Thursday afternoon at the 2015 SoCon Softball Championship at Frost Stadium in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Mercer (36-20) advances to Friday’s semifinal matchup with No. 1 seed Chattanooga at 10 a.m. Samford (33-21) will play No. 4 seed Furman in an elimination game Thursday night.

Stevens earned her league-leading 25th win of the season, tossing a complete game and holding the Bulldogs scoreless on six hits and two walks against six strikeouts. She retired 21 of the 29 batters that she faced in the game. Offensively, Taylor Miller went 1-for-4 in the game and drove in both of the Mercer runs.

Mollie Hanson was the tough-luck loser for Samford, tossing 6.0 innings and allowing two runs on six hits with two walks against nine strikeouts. The top of the Samford order was a combined 3-for-10 with Megan Dowdy, Shelby Maze and Caitlin Bice each contributing a hit.

Mercer was able to strike early in the game, scoring two runs in the bottom of the second. Caroline Taylor singled down the third-base line and Sloat and Mauga were hit by pitches back-to-back to load the bases. Two batters later, Taylor Miller had a two-run single to scored Taylor and Sloat and give the Bears a 2-0 lead, which they would never relinquish. Hanson would avoid further damage by getting a strikeout to end the inning.

Samford put some pressure on Stevens and the Bears in the fifth. Spinks led off the inning with a single to center and and two batters later Dowdy followed with a one-out single to put runners at first and second. Stevens induced back-to-back groundouts, though, to retire the side and keep the Bulldogs off the board.

They would threaten again the following inning, getting the first two aboard. Brister walked and Caroline Wilder singled, putting runners on first and second with no outs. Stevens would take it from there, though, striking out the next three in order to end the inning.

Mercer looked poised to add to their lead in the bottom of the sixth. Taylor walked to start the inning and Sloat followed with a double to place runners at second and third with no outs. Hanson battled to keep her in team in the game and retired the three next with back-to-back strikeouts and a groundout to keep it a two-run game heading to the seventh.

In Samford’s final at-bat, though, Stevens would get two strikeouts and a groundout to set the Bulldogs down in order. The lefty hurler retired five of the final six batters that she faced in the game via the strikeout.

Stevens has yet to allow a run in 13.0 innings pitched through two starts in the SoCon Tournament.

Categories: Bibb County, Regional Sports, Sports

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