It may have just been the opening day of the season, but the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga softball team took the field Friday with something to prove.
The Lady Mocs beat Bethune-Cookman 12-1 and came from behind to edge Florida A&M 5-3 at Dot Richardson’s National Collegiate Invitational in Clermont, Fla.
The wins gave coach Frank Reed his 400th and 401st wins with the Lady Mocs.
“It’s always good to win the first one, and I felt like we really put it together well today,” Reed said. “It’s certainly early in the season and a lot can still happen, but we can definitely build off of the way we played today.”
UTC lost six seniors from last year’s Southern Conference championship team, and three newcomers were in the starting lineup in the 2012 opener.
Senior Michelle Fuzzard pitched all five innings against Bethune-Cookman and went 2-for-4 with a home run and four RBIs to key a 13-hit team performance.
Freshman Cheyenne Willis — making her debut in the outfield after playing as an infielder in high school — went 2-for-3 with two RBIs and two runs scored, and junior second baseman Sara Poteat was 2-for-4 with three RBIs.
“I knew that our offense could be good, but sometimes you just never know with young kids,” Reed said. “But I’ll tell you, they sure didn’t act like young kids out there today.”
Against Florida A&M, freshman pitcher Taylor Deason struggled early with a tight strike zone and an infield mistake, allowing three first-inning runs and leaving the Lady Mocs down 3-1. But she settled down after that, allowing no more runs while striking out six in seven innings to pick up the complete game victory in her first collegiate start.
“I didn’t get nervous really. I just go out and pitch,” she said. “What’s the point in getting nervous, really?”
Junior first baseman Kasey Tydingco hit a home run against Florida A&M, and she and Fuzzard each had two RBIs. Sophomore outfielder Kaiti Dutton went 2-for-3, and Poteat was 2-for-4 with a stolen base.
Some of the new players also contributed on offense against Florida A&M. Willis scored twice again in the second game, and third baseman Sarah Beth Roberts was 2-for-3 with a stolen base in her first start for UTC.
“We were awesome out there today — hitting the ball hard and playing well,” Deason said of the new-look Lady Mocs’ opening-day performance. “I feel like we had something to prove today, and I’m just so proud of our team.”