The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga softball team was involved in two very different games Saturday, but both were big Southern Conference victories.
The Lady Mocs opened their 2012 league schedule by beating the College of Charleston 11-1 in five innings and grinding out a 2-1 win at Jim Frost Stadium.
"I've been around this game a ton of years," UTC coach Frank Reed said. "It seems like every time you score a bunch of runs, you're always scraping to find a run the next game. I don't know what it is."
UTC (13-8) had 10 hits in the opener with freshman Cheyenne Willis and seniors Michelle Fuzzard and Vivian Morimoto each going 2-for-3 with three RBIs. The Lady Mocs jumped on top in the bottom of the third inning with a two-run double by Willis, a two-run home run by Fuzzard and a solo homer by Morimoto.
The three had run-scoring hits in the fourth inning as well, with Morimoto taking the team lead in homers with her sixth of the season. First baseman Kasey Tydingco's groundout in the fourth provided the Lady Mocs' other RBI.
"We prepared a lot this past week to face this pitcher," Morimoto said of Charleston starter Stephanie Saylors. "I think that helped a lot to watch video of her."
Taylor Deason was in command in the pitching circle in the opener, allowing a single run on four hits while striking out six and allowing no walks.
Game two was far from a breeze. UTC scored on a single by Fuzzard in the first inning and added a line-drive home run by senior shortstop Jessica Traxler in the second but was unable to score again against Charleston pitchers Hope Klicker and Jen Rosene.
"I just told myself to hit the ball hard, because they'd been throwing me inside the whole day, and I finally turned on it," Traxler said of her homer.
The Cougars defense put on a show in the second game, recording a school-record three double plays.
Traxler has struggled with her defense, recording a team-worst 11 errors so far this season. But she was solid Saturday, recording five assists and three putouts with no errors.
"I think at the beginning of each season I go through a slump a little bit," she said. "But the main thing was I didn't give up. I just kept working on it in practice and after practice, taking extra ground balls, and came out of it."
Charleston (10-10, 0-2) cut into UTC's lead in the fourth on an RBI double by Carly Corthell, but Morimoto threw out pinch runner Jacqueline Martinez on a pitchout to limit the Cougars to a single run.
Deason, pitching in relief of Fuzzard, ran into trouble in the sixth inning. The freshman loaded the bases with one out on a single and two walks, but she stranded the tying run at third by getting a strikeout and a grounder to first base to preserve her second win of the day and improve her record to 9-4.
The teams play a single game today at 2 p.m.
The Lady Mocs then have 15 road games in Tallahassee, Gainesville and Clearwater, Fla.; Boone, N.C.; and Statesboro, Ga. before playing at home again April 4 against Marshall.
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 ...