It's been a long road for University of Tennessee at Chattanooga pitcher/designated player Michelle Fuzzard, but the fifth-year senior is making her presence felt in the UTC record books.
Fuzzard knocked in two runs with a bases-loaded single Sunday to lead the Lady Mocs to an 11-2 win over the College of Charleston in five innings and set the school's career RBI record.
The Huntington Beach, Calif., native has 178 RBIs in her UTC career, passing Melisssa Ramirez's 177 for the Lady Mocs from 2002 to 2005.
"I'm kind of a stats junkie anyway; I'm that player," Fuzzard after Sunday's win. "I've been keeping track -- I'm not going to say that I wasn't. [Ramirez] was a great player, so I passed a great player. ... It's pretty neat and a great honor.
"Coach [Frank] Reed tipped his hat to me, and that felt good, too."
In addition to revising the UTC record book Sunday, the Lady Mocs (14-8, 3-0 SoCon) completed a three-game sweep over the Cougars in the opening weekend of Southern Conference play.
UTC pounded out 11 hits against Charleston pitchers Stephanie Saylors and Jen Sosene on Sunday and got home runs by first baseman Kasey Tydingco, catcher Vivian Morimoto, right fielder Nicole Osterman and shortstop Jessica Traxler.
Osterman, Tydingco, Morimoto and second baseman Sara Poteat each had two hits in the win.
"We know that Charleston is a good ball club, and they're always going to come out and play with us," said Tydingco, who was 2-for-3 at the plate with three RBIs and two runs scored. "So after a good night's rest, we came out ready to play this morning.
"This weekend I was a little tense up there, so today Coach Lindsey [Ubrun] told me 'stay relaxed and play you're ballgame.' ... So that was really what I was trying to think when I was at the plate today."
The Lady Mocs had plenty of motivation against the Cougars (10-11, 0-3), who swept UTC in a three-game series last season for the Lady Mocs' only three conference losses in 2011.
"Getting swept is not a fun feeling, and we didn't want that to happen again," Fuzzard said. "So for us to kind of reciprocate that feeling was good."
Fuzzard went the distance for UTC in the pitching circle and earned the win to even her record at 5-5. She limited the Cougars to four hits -- including solo home runs by Kelsey Hodgson and Carly Corthell -- and two walks while striking out two.
UTC now hits the road for a 15-game road trip, including a spring break trip to Florida with games against Florida from the SEC and Florida State from the ACC, and a pair of tough road SoCon series at Appalachian State and Georgia Southern.
"These games aren't going to be easy, and we need to put the same team out on the field that we did today," Fuzzard said of the upcoming road trip. "It's going to be huge for us if we can keep this going. It's really going to be a test for us to see if we can be consistent, and I think that we can."
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 ...