Still playing without one of its cornerstones on the infield didn't hurt the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga softball team Tuesday night in an 8-0 win over Tennessee Tech at Jim Frost Stadium.
The Lady Mocs (24-13) won in six innings after jumping to a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. Shortstop Jessica Traxler hit a bases-loaded double with two outs to set the tone early.
"I didn't want to leave three runners on base, so I was just seeing the ball and hitting it," Traxler said. "It was an inside pitch and I hit it to the right side. Usually most of the big hits I get are to the right side, so I was lucky that they all scored."
UTC took advantage of four Tech errors to add a single run in the fourth inning and four in the sixth, ending the game.
Coach Frank Reed was pleased with the Lady Mocs' performance in a midweek nonconference contest while they are wrapping up the semester in the classroom and preparing for final exams.
"Our goals were to have solid pitching, put the ball in play, play solid defense without errors and let the chips fall where they may," he said. "I thought we accomplished that today."
Senior Michelle Fuzzard (10-6) pitched the first four innings and Taylor Deason took over for the last two for her third save. Each allowed two hits.
Freshman center fielder Cheyenne Willis led the Lady Mocs on offense, going 3-for-4 with an RBI and two runs, and left fielder Layne Rainey had two hits. Willis had been struggling with her power swing lately, but she has had success slapping the ball off the infield.
"Regular swinging is where I'm not as comfortable right now, so slapping is what's been getting me on base," she said. "But slowly but surely I'm getting back into hitting."
The Lady Mocs were without junior second baseman Sara Poteat, who injured her Achilles' tendon in a collision with a baserunner last weekend. Poteat sat out Tuesday's game and is likely to miss this weekend's home Southern Conference series against Western Carolina.
Junior NInjja Suetsugu, a natural shortstop, took Poteat's spot at second base and was solid on defense with three putouts. The transfer from Miami Dade Community College also had a hit and scored a run.
"We need her to play like I've seen her play in junior college," Reed said. "She came off of a national championship team, and she had some home runs and some big hits on that team. ... So we need her to take advantage of these starts even though second base is not her position."
Tuesday's game was also the final one in Chattanooga for two local players on the Tennessee Tech roster. Former Ooltewah standout Holly Thomas didn't play Tuesday, but designated player Samantha Everett from Baylor had a hit to wrap up her local playing career on a positive note.
"It's kind of bittersweet because this is home and you always want to come out and win when you are at home," she said. "But I've had a lot of good experiences here, so any time being here is a pleasure.
"I can at least walk off and say I did something. My field play wasn't too good, but I at least got a hit and it was a pretty good smack, so that's not too bad."
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 ...