After suffering a disappointing loss and struggling defensively on Saturday, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga softball team responded in record-setting fashion Sunday.
The Lady Mocs wrapped up the Frost Classic with a 19-0 blowout win over Dayton in five innings at Jim Frost Stadium at Warner Park. The offensive outburst was the biggest run total ever under UTC coach Frank Reed and the most ever scored by UTC at Jim Frost Stadium.
They also tied a Lady Mocs team record with six doubles in the game.
"I'm really excited that we could score that many runs. We got to play a lot of people, and that's always good," Reed said. "The balls that we hit were not cheap hits. We hit them in the gap -- we only had one home run and scored 19 runs.
"The thing that impressed me was the balls that we hit at people were hit hard."
The Lady Mocs, who went 4-1 over the weekend as hosts of the 12-team Frost Classic, took control early against the Flyers, scoring six runs in the first inning with two-run hits from catcher Vivian Morimoto and shortstop Simone "Ninjja" Suetsugu and RBI hits from freshmen Nicole Osterman and Sarah Beth Roberts.
"Every day I just work harder to feel more comfortable at the plate," said Roberts, who was 2-for-4 with three RBIs against Dayton. "And with my teammates supporting me, I'm able to get that job done.
"It feels good always to get a big win, and it just brings us together more as a team."
UTC (8-5) added four runs in the second, five in the third and four in the fourth to put the game out of reach.
In addition, after committing five errors in two games on Saturday, including four errors in a 6-0 loss to Purdue, the Lady Mocs defense played an error-free game behind pitcher Taylor Deason.
"Last night was a little bit bad, but we tried to make it something positive," Morimoto said. "Today we felt like we needed to do something about it. Especially for our fans who were here last night when it was freezing.
"The defense was totally better. Today was Chattanooga softball. We played like we practice, after yesterday when we were a little bit off."
Every Lady Mocs starter got a hit in the 18-hit onslaught, led by Morimoto, who was 3-for-4 with two RBIs and three runs, and first baseman Kasey Tydinco, who was 3-for-3 with a home run and four RBIs.
Roberts, Sara Poteat, Cheyenne Willis and Michelle Fuzzard each had two hits in the win, and Poteat stole second base in the third inning to increase her team-leading total to seven stole bases.
Fuzzard scored a career best four runs on two hits with two walks as Dayton consistently pitched around UTC's leading hitter, who has raised her batting average to .563.
With a more-than-comfortable lead on the scoreboard, Deason cruised in the pitching circle through the first three innings before running into trouble in the fourth inning. The freshman pitcher loaded the bases with two outs on a double, a hit batter and a single, but she coaxed a grounder to Roberts at third base to get out of the inning without allowing any runs.
Deason allowed three hits over five innings with five strikeouts to pick up the complete-game victory and improve to 6-2 on the season.
"Isn't it amazing how well your pitchers pitch when they have a five- or six-run lead," Reed said of Deason's performance. "In all fairness, it takes pressure off them, but for me calling pitches, I can experiment. I've got a run or two to play with if I need to."
UTC will hit the road again this weekend for five games at Ole Miss Red and Blue Classic in Oxford, Miss. The Lady Mocs will open the tournament Friday with games against Belmont and Ole Miss.
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 ...