published Saturday, February 26th, 2011

Lady Mocs win big twice

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga softball team continued its hot offense Friday with two five-inning wins in the Frost Classic at Warner Park.

The Lady Mocs (9-3) beat Toledo 13-4 and used an eight-run first inning to cruise to an 11-1 win over East Tennessee State. In an eight-game winning streak, they have outscored opponents 68-20.

Junior Michelle Fuzzard continued the strong start to her season. She hit a three-run home run in the first inning of each game and pitched three innings against Toledo for her fourth win of the season.

Fuzzard went 5-for-5 with two walks and four runs scored on the day.

“We put offensive numbers on the board in both first innings, and that’s big when you can do that,” coach Frank Reed said. “It’s exciting. These kids are loving to play and we are loving watching them play. We’re just turning them loose and letting them do their thing.”

After quickly falling behind 3-0, Toledo tied the score on a three-run homer by second baseman Becki Heimbigner in the third inning. UTC responded with three runs in the bottom of the inning and added four in the fourth.

Lady Mocs first baseman Kasey Tydingco ended the game with a three-run homer in the fifth. Also against the Rockets, right fielder Della Harrison hit an opposite-field homer.

Fuzzard said that having so many weapons has her and the other UTC batters comfortable at the plate.

“We’re way more relaxed and seeing the ball better — I know that’s the case with me,” she said. “I’m not gripping my bat really hard and really trying to hit it out. It’s just kind of coming ... more than me trying to do something different.”

Against ETSU and first-year head coach Brad Irwin, a former UTC assistant, the Lady Mocs had 14 batters in the bottom of the first. Kandice Irwin pitched 31⁄3 innings in relief of Nikki Waters to pick up the win.

Second baseman Sara Poteat went 2-for-2 with an RBI against the Bucs, and shortstop Jessica Traxler had a two-run single.

For ETSU, former GPS player Amy Campbell went 2-for-2 and scored the run.

Senior center fielder Lyndsey Stiles had a good day in the leadoff spot for the Lady Mocs, going 3-for-6 with three RBIs (all against Toledo) and three runs scored. Exclusively a slap hitter in previous years, Stiles is hitting the ball to the outfield more.

“The whole offseason I worked on swinging away and not slapping,” she said. “I’m trying to be that triple threat so if there’s runners in scoring position I can swing away, or if I need to slap I can or I can bunt if I need to.”

The Lady Mocs have scored more than 10 runs in four of their last seven games, and Fuzzard said it was important to do well in their first two home games.

“It’s pretty huge because they see in the news that we get all these big runs,” she said. “I think it’s really cool for our fans to see it firsthand and for us to put on a show for them.”

UTC will face Indiana University-Purdue Indianapolis at noon and Northern Iowa at 2:30 p.m. today.

Former Ooltewah standout Holly Thomas threw a no-hitter for Tennessee Tech in a 7-0 win over IUPUI on Friday.

Thomas struck out nine batters over seven innings and walked two, and former Dalton player Lacie Coquerille homered for Tech.

Contact Jim Tanner at jtanner@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6478.

about Jim Tanner...

Jim Tanner has worked as assistant sports editor at the Times Free Press since late 2006. He started at the Times Free Press in 2001 and worked as a news copy/design editor from 2001 through 2006. In addition to working as a night and weekend editor producing local and national sports coverage for print and online readers, Jim occasionally writes local sports and outdoors stories. Jim grew up in Ringgold, Ga., and is a graduate ...

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