Contributed photo by Jeff Hurndon Tiffany Baker swings during the UTC Lady Mocs' game against Georgia in the Bulldog Invitational on Sunday.
ATHENS, Ga. — The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga softball team almost pulled off a stunning upset Sunday at the Bulldog Invitational.
The Lady Mocs (12-5) were leading No. 1-ranked Georgia 3-2 late in the game before the Lady Bulldogs rallied in the bottom of the seventh inning for a 4-3 win.
UTC jumped out to a 3-0 lead on the Lady Bulldogs by taking advantage of a throwing error to score two runs in the second inning and a third-inning home run by third baseman Tiffany Baker that ended the day for highly touted Georgia freshman pitcher Morgan Montemayor.
Baker led the Lady Mocs with a 2-for-3 day against Georgia.
Georgia chipped away at UTC’s lead, scoring a run on an illegal pitch by Michelle Fuzzard in the third and on a pinch-hit home run by Julia Echols in the fourth inning.
UTC held the Lady Bulldogs scoreless in the fifth and sixth innings, but Echols walked to lead off the bottom of the seventh and was advanced to scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by Ashley Pauly. Taylor Schlopy and Megan Wiggins followed with back to back RBI doubles to win the game.
Fuzzard pitched 6 1/3 innings in the loss and allowed four runs on six hits while striking out four UGA batters.
Despite the loss, UTC coach Frank Reed was pleased with how Fuzzard and the rest of his team performed against the top-ranked team in the nation.
“Fuzzard comes out and pitches an awesome game for us there. Realistically, we should not have lost,” he said. “I think that it gives you an indication of how far these girls have come. You hate the loss, but if you have to lose it, then I guess it is best to lose it now. These are the types of teams that we will hopefully play in the regionals. I think that we have proven that we could play with them.”
In UTC’s first game Sunday, Baker hit a three-run home run in the ninth inning to cap a 2-for-5, four RBI performance and lift the Lady Mocs to a 9-7 win over Campbell.
UTC again jumped out to an early 4-0 lead after two innings, but Campbell came back and scored twice in the bottom of the seventh to send the game to extra innings.
After trading runs in the eighth, left fielder Lauren Flores was placed on second under the international tiebreaker rule and center fielder Lyndsey Stiles walked to set up Baker’s game-winning home run.
Stiles scored four runs against Campbell and went 3-for-3 at the plate, and shortstop Jessica Traxler went 2-for-3 with an RBI in the win.
Nikki Waters got the start and struck out six over five innings before handing the ball to Kandice Irwin. Fuzzard came on to pitch the final 1 1/3 innings to earn her seventh win of the season.
UTC will be back in action Tuesday when the Lady Mocs travel to Cookeville, Tenn., for a game against Tennessee Tech before coming home this weekend to open the Southern Conference schedule with a three-game series against Samford.
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 ...