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Rival Mocs force split
Georgia Southern's Morgan Robinson, left, is congratulated by A.J. Hamilton, right, and other teammates after her two-run shot in the fourth inning broke a 0-0 tie against Chattanooga at Eagle Stadium Saturday. The Eagles won the game, the first of a doubleheader, 3-1. Chattanooga split the day by answering with a 2-1 win. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

Southern Conference Softball Standings
Team                        SoCon    All        Stk      GB

Georgia Southern    13-4        31-17    L-1    —
Chattanooga             10-6        27-18    W-1    2.5
Furman                     10-6        26-22    L-1    2.5
Samford                      9-7        34-14    L-1    3.5
Western Carolina        8-9        18-28    W-1    5
Appalachian State     5-10        17-27    L-4    7
UNC Greensboro      5-11        22-24    W-2     7.5
Elon                          5-12        24-23-1    W-1    8

Saturday's Scores

    Samford 3, Elon 1   
    Elon 6, Samford 1   
    Furman 7, Western Carolina 0
    Western Carolina 6, Furman 1
    Georgia Southern 3, Chattanooga 1
    Chattanooga 2, Georgia Southern 1
    UNC Greensboro 11, Appalachian State 5
    UNC Greensboro 20, Appalachian State 19

    Georgia Southern came into the weekend with a chance to clinch the regular-season Southern Conference title.
    Leave it to Chattanooga to get in the way.
    The Eagles cruised to a game-one, 3-1 win, but the Lady Mocs answered in the second game of the doubleheader with a 2-1 victory to force a rubber match today at 1 p.m., at Eagle Field.
    GSU (31-17, 13-4 SoCon) maintained a two and a half game lead over the Mocs (27-18, 10-6) and Furman on Saturday with four conference games remaining on the schedule.
    The regular season title is still up for grabs, and Chattanooga helped itself out with the game-two win.
    “It’s always a great series,” GSU pitcher Sarah Purvis said about UTC. “It’s competitive, they’re our biggest rival and they’re also right behind us in the standings. It’s important to get wins, and since we split today it’s really important to come out and win the next one.”
    Purvis tossed six consecutive scoreless innings in the opener before taking a 3-0 lead into the seventh and giving up a solo homer to Chattanooga’s Sarah Beth Roberts.Purvis struck out seven in the complete-game three-hitter.
    The Eagles got on the board in the fourth when freshman first baseman Morgan Robinson hit a two-run homer, her fourth, to give GSU the early edge over the Mocs in a rivalry Robinson has only heard about.
    “I’ve heard all about it. I know they used to dominate the SoCon before we won the last two (championships), so it’s big to try to come out here and beat them every time,” Robinson said. “(The homer) felt really good. I was glad I could help the team out and start a little rally.”
    The Eagles added a run in the fifth after Lexi Allen led off the frame with a double. She scored on an RBI single by catcher A.J. Hamilton.
    “Every run counts, and I was happy with the way the whole team played that first game,” GSU coach Annie Smith said.
    Chattanooga struck first in the second game. Cricket Blanco led off the fourth by getting hit by a Brooke Red pitch. Red retired the next two batters, but after a single by Tyler Templet, Blanco scored on a throwing error. Sam Taylor ripped a double to right-center to drive in Templet and give the Mocs a 2-0 lead that proved to be enough.
    The Eagles scrapped four hits in the game, including a solo homer in the sixth by Kourtny Thomas, her 14th bomb of the year.
    “We battled at the plate, we did a nice job with that, but we need to get some more of those balls to get through,” Smith said. “That’s the approach we need to take, and it’s going to be a battle against Chatt. That’s why they’re right behind us in the standings. We’ll just play our game and see what happens.”
    Red pitched six innings of four-hit ball and struck out five. Allie Miles faced SoCon competition for only the second time this season, pitching a scoreless seventh and striking out one.
    The Eagles are aware how close they are to a regular-season conference title and the No. 1 seed in the SoCon tournament, but that isn’t the goal at this point.
    “Everybody knows it, but we haven’t really talked about it,” Purvis said. “The goal is just to win every game we play.”
    That will be Chattanooga’s goal, too.
    “We know they’re only a few games behind us,” Smith said.

    Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-9408.