After dropping their opening game in the TCCAA/Region VII softball tournament in Chattanooga, the Motlow Lady Bucks made a run through the elimination bracket to the semifinals before falling 8-2 to Volunteer State Saturday to end the 2015 season.
Motlow (27-19-2) completed its first winning campaign since 2011, despite losing multiple players to injury and finishing the tournament with only 10 players available.
After falling 3-0 to Volunteer State on Friday, the Lady Bucks came back strong later that evening with an 11-8 win over Southwest Tennessee. Motlow then upset nationally-ranked Columbia State 2-1 Saturday morning before dropping their final contest in a rematch with Volunteer late Saturday night.
Freshman Riley Long pitched all four games for the Lady Bucks, allowing 11 earned runs in her 28 innings in the circle. However, seven of the earned runs came against Southwest Tennessee in Motlow’s victory over the Lady Saluqis.
The Lady Bucks couldn’t generate much offense in the tournament-opening loss to Volunteer State, managing only three hits. Long scattered eight hits and allowed only one earned run, but her defense committed three errors. Morgan Moyers, Taylor Wolaver and Chelsea Buffington had hits for Motlow.
Friday night’s win over Southwest featured a dramatic comeback by the Lady Bucks after the Lady Saluqis took a 6-0 lead after three innings. Motlow scored five runs in the fifth to pull within 6-5, but Southwest plated two more in the bottom of the inning. The Lady Bucks stormed right back with five more runs in the sixth and added a single run in the seventh.
Long allowed 16 hits, but her offense cranked out 13 hits of its own. Bridgette Wilson had two of them and drove in four runs, while Lauren Hasty and Miranda Whelan each drove in a pair. Wolaver, Hasty, Makayla Campbell, Traci Shelton, and Rachel Gamble each had two hits for the Lady Bucks.
Saturday morning’s upset of Columbia State saw Long scatter five hits with two strikeouts. The Lady Charger’s only run came in the fourth and was unearned due to Motlow’s only error of the game.
The Lady Bucks tied the score in the bottom of the fourth as Hasty singled with one out and scored on Shelton’s RBI single. The winning run came in the fifth when Buffington reached on an error and scored on Wilson’s RBI single with two outs.
Motlow opened Saturday night’s rematch with Volunteer by scoring twice in the top of the first inning, but the Lady Pioneers responded with four runs in the first and three more in the second. The Lady Bucks struggled defensively with six errors, while Long allowed 10 hits but only three earned runs.
Campbell had a pair of hits for Motlow, including an RBI single that drove in Hasty in the first, but the Lady Bucks could not generate significant offense after that first inning.
Motlow head coach Tori Raby-Gentry will have a significant group of returning players to build her 2016 squad around, as only five Lady Bucks completed their careers including Campbell, Moyers, Buffington, Wilson and Wheelan.