Fifth-seeded Mercer earned a 5-3 victory over No. 4 seed Samford on Wednesday in the first game of the Southern Conference softball tournament at Chattanooga's Frost Stadium.
The Bears improve to 25-29 and will face top-seeded UNCG at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday. The Bulldogs fall to 22-35 and will play at 8 p.m. on Thursday.
The contest was headlined by the by a five-run fifth inning for the Bears along with freshman pitcher Stella Preston, who relieved Mercer starting pitcher Megan Bilgri in the fifth inning.
Bilgri recorded her eighth save of the season. Preston walked her first batter, but retired the next eight consecutive opposing batters.
Samford led 2-0 after one, and 2-1 after two following the 31st career homer of Mercer's Caroline Taylor.
The Bulldogs upped the lead to 3-1 in the fourth, and the Mercer offense got going in the fifth.
Emma Andrew's' was followed by two errors to load the bases with no outs. Meghan Rud knocked in Andrew on a line drive to right field.
Abby Walsh then hit a sacrifice fly to left field to drive in Shiala Warren to tie it at 3.
Taylor Rodgers later singled to drive in freshman Danielle Castleberry for a 4-3 Mercer lead. Quirisa Mauga then hit a sacrifice fly to left field, which brought home Rud to make the score 5-3.
Georgia College baseball cruises
Georgia College banged out 24 hits to roll to a 14-0 win Wednesday over Flagler in the Peach Belt Conference Tournament opener.
Georgia College improved to 32-13 with the mercy-rule win, while Flagler fell to 28-23.
The Bobcats advance to take on the winner of No. 7-seed Lander University and No. 2-seed USC Aiken, with first pitch at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday.
Every slot in the Georgia College order posted hits, led by PBC Player of the Year Brandon Benson, who went 4-for-5 with four runs.
Left fielder Nate Schmal also had four hits, scoring a run and driving in another.
The Bobcats nearly fell in a hole early, committing two errors in the first inning and loading the bases for the Saints. Righty starter Brady Walsh got the Bobcats out of that jam and was masterful the rest of the way. Walsh (6-2) finished with six shutout innings, allowing three hits and walking one while striking out five.
Georgia College had multi-run innings in each of the first four frames, forcing the Saints to use five pitchers.
All-conference outfielder Wesley Wommack (Monroe, Georgia) had three hits in five trips, getting all three of his RBI on one swing with a bases-loaded double in the third. All-conference third baseman Cal Gentry of Perry went 3-for-5 with three runs and an RBI