The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga started 2011 Southern Conference softball play Saturday with two varying victories against Samford.
The Lady Mocs won in a runaway and then in a chip-away, 11-0 in five innings and 5-3 with three runs in the sixth.
The teams play another game in Frost Stadium today at 2 p.m.
UTC (15-5) trailed 3-0 in the second game after Samford shortstop Amanda Jordan from Tennessee Temple Academy led off the second inning with a home run off Nikki Waters. Kandice Irwin then came in to pitch for the Lady Mocs, and they got a run each in the third and fifth innings when Lyndsey Stiles scored on sacrifice flies.
With one out in the bottom of the sixth inning, catcher Vivian Morimoto walked for the third time in the game and Jessica Traxler singled to left field, both runners moving up a base when the throw got by the second baseman. Then Lauren Flores shot a double over third base to bring in the tying and go-ahead runs, and Stiles singled her home.
“They had kind of thrown me inside and were kind of jamming me,” Flores said later. “I just went up there and tried not to think so much. I just went up there and tried to be calm and aggressive, and it worked out for me.”
Stiles went 3-for-4 and Poteat was 2-for-3, and Irwin (5-1) allowed three hits while striking out six batters in six innings.
“We were patient,” UTC coach Frank Reed said. “When you get that close you feel that tension because one swing here or one swing there could make the difference.”
Reed said Irwin “makes us look really, really good.”
Jordan had the Bulldogs’ only hit in the first game off Michelle Fuzzard (8-3), who also was 3-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored. Sara Poteat was hit by a pitch and Fuzzard singled in the first inning, and Kasey Tydingco doubled them home with two outs.
Then came a seven-run second inning when the Lady Mocs had seven hits, including a three-run home run by Tiffany Baker, a two-RBI triple by Natalie Powers and doubles by Flores, Poteat and Fuzzard. Powers, a freshman catcher, lined her first college homer in the fourth for the last two runs of the game.
“Somebody said it was Powers’ dad’s birthday, and he was in the stands,” Reed said. “So that was pretty cool for her to be able to do that.”
Poteat, Fuzzard and Traxler each scored two runs in game one.
“We really just feed off each other,” Flores said. “When you see somebody get a big hit or get on base, you’re like, ‘You know, they did it. I can do it, too.’ So you go up there and get it done, and you know the person behind you can get it done, too.”
Fuzzard admitted being “disappointed” after losing a win over No. 1 Georgia in the last inning last Sunday, and she and UTC wanted to take some frustration out on Tennessee Tech in a doubleheader that was rained out Tuesday.
“But to take it out on Samford in conference is pretty big, too,” she said. “I was ready to come out in the first inning today and shut them down.”
Jordan admitted that Samford (3-17) has been “a second-game team” in doubleheaders this season, and the Bulldogs got two runs in the first inning of game two with a hit batter and singles by Kayla Shaffer and Aaren Fisher with a dropped force-out at second in between.
“We’re a young team, but we’ve got three All-Americans from Alabama coaching us and Samford is going to be really good in the future,” Jordan said. “Being a senior, I want to leave a legacy and help this team get better this season. I’ve struggled at the plate in the first part of the season — I was overthinking — but now I’m seeing the ball better and taking my hacks.”