published Sunday, February 26th, 2012

Unbeaten Purdue tops UTC

There was good and bad for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga softball team Saturday in the second day of the Frost Classic at Warner Park.

The Lady Mocs beat East Tennessee State 6-1 before losing 6-0 to undefeated Big Ten member Purdue.

Against ETSU, the Lady Mocs (7-5) faced several familiar faces. The Buccaneers are coached by former UTC assistant Brad Irwin, and UTC career home run leader Tiffany Baker is in her first season as an assistant coach.

In addition, former GPS players Amy Campbell and Jackie Baird were in the ETSU lineup, along with freshman Alex Everett from Soddy-Daisy.

The Buccaneers scored an unearned run in the top of the first inning against freshman pitcher Taylor Deason but were held in check the rest of the game.

UTC tied the game in the bottom of the inning when second baseman Sara Poteat singled to lead off the game, stole second base and later scored on a sacrifice fly by first baseman Kasey Tydingco.

Freshman Nicole Osterman put the Lady Mocs in front in the second inning when she scored from third base on a passed ball, and Michelle Fuzzard's RBI single made the score 3-1 after two innings.

"You always want to be the first one to score," Fuzzard said. "So I think we reacted it well by coming back and getting some runs."

Poteat remained red hot at the plate against ETSU, going 3-for-3 with two stolen bases and four runs scored, although she later was held hitless for the first time this season in the Purdue game.

Fuzzard was 2-for-2 with a pair of RBIs, and catcher Vivian Morimoto knocked in two runs with a double in the sixth inning.

Deason picked up her fifth win of the season, allowing five hits while striking out four in seven innings.

Against Purdue (8-0), UTC had a chance to take a lead in the bottom of the second after loading the bases with no outs, but a diving catch by left fielder Maia Moncheck robbed Osterman of an extra-base hit. Moncheck then threw to third base to throw out Morimoto, who had left base early.

The Boilermakers took advantage in the third inning, scoring five runs on six hits and an error against Fuzzard in the pitching circle. Moncheck and Danielle Fletcher had two-run singles in the inning.

"Momentum swings are huge in this game," Fuzzard said. "I think that that probably gave them a little bit. We try and get that back on our side, but when the other side gets it we need to handle it a little bit better."

Defensive mistakes continue to plague the Lady Mocs, with four errors against Purdue and five for the day. Shortstop Jessica Traxler committed three errors, including two against the Boilermakers, and has eight so far this season.

"I don't know what's going on in their heads, because they're not that bad a group of defensive players. They're good defensive players," UTC coach Frank Reed said. "We can't change what's already happened, but they need to go home and get a good night's rest and come back ready to play ball."

UTC allowed 10 hits against Purdue, which limited UTC to five. The Boilermakers had scored in double digits in their previous three Frost Classic games.

Fuzzard took the pitching loss loss, allowing five runs -- four earned -- on eight hits over five innings with a pair of strikeouts. Deason pitched the final two innings, allowing one run on two hits.

Fuzzard said that she's not concerned by the problems UTC has had on defense early this season, but she said her pitching style relies on good defense and the team needs to improve going forward.

"I have a lot of faith in these girls that they can bounce back, but I've said it before: I don't strike out a lot of people and I'm going to have a lot of ground balls and pop flies," she said. "That's our job as pitchers, but we need to feel like we have some defense behind us so that we don't get tight or try too hard."

UTC will wrap up play in the Frost Classic today against Dayton, beginning at 1:15 p.m.

about Jim Tanner...

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 ...

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