University of Tennessee at Chattanooga junior pitcher Nikki Waters had the breakout game of her season Saturday in the second game of a softball doubleheader against UNC Greensboro.
Waters tied a career high with 10 strikeouts in a two-hit shutout as the Lady Mocs won 3-0 after taking a 9-5 victory behind Michelle Fuzzard in the opener of the weekend Southern Conference series.
UTC (28-9, 10-0) got all the scoring it would need in the bottom of the first inning of game two when Fuzzard and Tiffany Baker hit back-to-back two-out doubles off UNCG starter Josie Felix for a 1-0 lead.
Vivian Morimoto had an RBI hit as UTC added two runs in the fourth inning to give Waters some insurance.
"I just felt really good today," said Waters (7-1). "Warmups weren't so pretty, but once I got into the game I felt really good from the start."
UTC coach Frank Reed said she showed how good she can be as the season winds down.
"That's the kind of pitcher Nikki Waters is, and we need for her to be that coming down the stretch," Reed said. "When we can throw Fuzzard and Waters and then come back with Kandice Irwin, we'll be pretty tough - particularly when we can continue to put numbers on the board."
UTC had to battle back from an early 2-0 deficit in the first game. Fuzzard was the starting pitcher, and she helped her own cause with a two-run home run in a five-run second inning.
"We tried to come out swinging the bat hard," Fuzzard said. "I think they were trying to come out hard in the first game, so to put them away with our hitting and defense was big."
UNCG (17-19, 6-5) tied the game at 5 on a three-run home run by April Langley in the fourth inning, but UTC answered the challenge in the bottom of the frame when third baseman Baker hit a long three-run home run to center field.
Fuzzard (13-5) pitched six innings to earn the win, and Irwin struck out the side in the seventh to close out the win.
Morimoto, a transfer from Miami-Dade Community College, continued her recent surge at the plate by going 5-for-7 for the day.
"I've tried to work on things that I wasn't doing good," Morimoto said. "I think Coach is starting to give me more chances, and I'm starting to get in a rhythm. That's what helping me lately."
Senior center fielder Lyndsey Stiles went 2-for-2 in the opener with two stolen bases, two runs and an RBI, and freshman Stephanie Rieck got her first two college hits and her first RBI in the first game.
"I was very excited," Rieck said. "I turned to Coach Amy [Herrington-Woodard] and said, 'Yes! My first college hit!'"
UTC and UNCG will wrap up their weekend series today with a single game starting at 2 p.m. The Lady Mocs are planning to wear throwback uniforms for the game, and everyone in the eighth grade or younger will be admitted free.