CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. -- Many familiar faces are set to take the infield for the Lady Mocs to begin the 2013 season, including seniors Sara Poteat (Thomaston, Ga.) and Kasey Tydingco (Fairfield, Calif.) at their usual positions. The sure-handed Chattanooga infield, along with sophomore Sarah Beth Roberts (Mt. Juliet, Tenn.) and senior Ninjja Suetsugu (Sao Paulo, Brazil), UTC also adds depth with six newcomers.
A leadoff hitter for most of last season, Poteat returns for her fourth year with the Lady Mocs and third season as a starter at second base. The former Southern Conference Tournament Most Outstanding Player led UTC with a .437 batting average, 62 hits and 18 stolen bases on 19 attempts. Poteat will play a major part in Chattanooga's small-ball game.
"Expect Sara at the top of the lineup making things happen," Head Coach FrankReed said. "I can see her at the top of the lineup and Stephanie Rieck (Chander, Ariz.) in either a two or three spot."
A star on the diamond, as well as at the plate, the Thomaston, Ga. native maintained a .958 fielding percentage and recorded 93 assists while committing only eight errors over 45 games. Poteat was also elected to the SoCon preseason All-Conference First-Team by the league's coaches last week.
Tydingco will anchor first base for the fourth straight season after starting her freshman campaign in 2010 when then-first baseman Michelle Fuzzard went down with an ACL injury. The Fairfield, Calif. native is expected to be the heart of the lineup, and with good reason. Tacking on to her power ever since, Tydingco blasted 13 homeruns last season, drove in 62 runs and slugged .738 in 2012. With exceptional speed for a first baseman, Tydingco also split the gaps 20 times last season with 17 doubles and 3 triples.
Transferring in for the 2012 season, Suetsugu saw limited playing time but is expected to be a starter for 2013. With many defensive positions already filled, the Sao Paulo, Brazil infielder only started 21 games for the Lady Mocs last season. That could change this season if Suetsugu displays the same hot bat and glove she was recruited for out of Miami-Dade. The senior is expected to start at shortstop, but don't be surprised by her versatility- Suetsugu may also see time behind the plate as a catcher.
Roberts is expected to make the start at third base for Reed's 2013 Lady Mocs. The Mt. Juliet, Tenn. native quickly overcame her freshman jitters in 2012 and filled the fifth defensive spot vacated by Chattanooga legend Tiffany Baker. With a solid glove and a bat that's beginning to heat up, Roberts started 48 games and played in 50 contests. As a freshman, she batted .328 and maintained a .399 on-base percentage. Roberts also displayed a good eye at the plate, walking 16 times. Roberts was named to the SoCon preseason All-Conference Second-Team by the league's coaches.
Of the three freshmen, the most likely to make an immediate impact with the Lady Mocs will be Alyssa Taylor (Orange, Calif.). Taylor is a middle infielder who will be first off the bench and could slide into a designated hitter's role when not on defense.
"Alyssa Taylor has been looking really good with the bat," Reed said. "I could see her near the top of the lineup or down near the nine spot making things happen there."
Freshman Kaisey Carson (Indianapolis, Ind.) stands at 6-feet tall and will serve as the backup first baseman for Tydingco. Carson may not see much time on the corner with a healthy Tydingco in the lineup, but she will be seen in the circle for her pitching abilities often.
Transfer Victoria Sovak (Roebling, N.J.) is listed as both an outfielder and infielder, but made the majority of her starts while at Rutgers-Newark, and sophomore Halen Weeks (Dalton, Ga.), a transfer from Cleveland State, is listed as an infielder and catcher. Both junior Tyler Templet (Woodstock, Ga.), a transfer from Tennessee Tech, and freshman Kayla Ferrari (Brentwood, Tenn.) could also factor in as backups in the Lady Mocs' long list of infielders.
Expected to be the Lady Mocs starting catcher is freshman Anyssa Robles (Hoschton, Ga.). The catcher had an outstanding fall and was the highlight of the Blue-Gold game with a double and long homerun to straight-away centerfield. Robles looks to fill the void left by Vivian Morimoto after the 2012 season. Morimoto accounted for 34 of the Lady Mocs extra-base hits last season.
The Lady Mocs open their season Friday in Clermont, Fla. at Dot Richardson's National Training Center Invitational. Chattanooga takes on Fordham at noon before meeting with Southern Illinois at 2 p.m. the same day.