CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – The Chattanooga Mocs softball team opens its season Friday in Orlando, Fla., at the UCF Knights Invitational. The five-game tournament gets underway at 11 a.m. with Chattanooga taking on Fordam and capping off the opening day at 3:30 p.m. with South Dakota. The Mocs face off against Long Island and the hosting Knights Saturday and play their get-away game Sunday at 9 a.m. against Kansas.
The Mocs faced three of the five teams in the tournament in 2013. Chattanooga got the ball rolling last season against Fordham, and played the Rams twice more. UTC met Long Island in its third game in Clermont, Fla., and suffered its only loss of the Auburn Tiger Invitational to Kansas later in the same month.
Fordham took three-of-three meetings last year from Chattanooga. The Rams claimed their first win in 2013 with a 6-5 score and took a 2-1 decision over the Mocs the same weekend. The third game was a 9-1 Fordham win in Clearwater on March 13.
The Rams come into 2014 highly touted and expected to win the Atlantic 10 Conference title. Fordham has won two of the last three A-10 championships and return six of nine starters from the previous season.
The Mocs and South Dakota meet for the first time in program history Friday afternoon. Predicted to finish fourth in the Summit League, the Coyotes were 29-20 overall and 12-7 in the Summit in 2013.
South Dakota returns Yvon Minogue to the lineup as a sophomore. The first baseman batted .357 and collected a team-best 51 hits in her freshman campaign. She tied for ninth with a .418 on-base percentage and tied for eighth with 39 RBIs in the USD single-season rankings.
Located in the same slot as the year before, Long Island is Chattanooga’s third opponent of the tournament. The Mocs scored a 6-4 win over Blackbirds for their first victory last season.
LIU graduated All-American Lauren Morizi and now looks to Whitney West to lead the team offensively. The sophomore batted .339 in 2013 and totaled 56 hits. Her five triples were a team-high and she snagged 14-of-17 stolen bases in the year before.
Central Florida entertains the Mocs Saturday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. for the first time since 2012. The two teams met at Dot Richardson’s National Collegiate Invitational in Clermont, Fla., as Chattanooga suffered a 6-2 loss to the Knights. The all-time series is tied 1-1.
The Knights are coming off a 29-25 overall and 10-14 Conference USA 2013 record. They return hurlers Shelby Turnier and Mackenzie Audas – both of which made at least 30 appearances. Turnier started 22 games, posted a 2.33 ERA and a 14-7 record. Audas led the Knights with 31 starts and 39 appearances. She also posted 14 wins.
Chattanooga wraps up things in Orlando at 9 a.m. against Kansas – the only team to give UTC trouble at Auburn. The Mocs lead the all-time series over the Jayhawks 2-1. Kansas claimed its first win of the series in 2013 with a 6-1 victory.
Predicted to finish fourth in the Big 12 preseason poll, it’s Kansas’ best preseason ranking since selected fourth in 2002. The Jayhawks are coming off a fourth-place finish in the Big 12 behind defending National Champion Oklahoma. Kansas returns 10 letter-winners, including 2013 All-Big 12 Second Team selections Kelsey Kessler and Chaley Brickey.
Live audio and live stats are available for every game. Broadcasts are set to start approximately 10 minutes prior to the first pitch of the game. Join Mocs Head Coach Frank Reed for pregame and the announcement of the starting lineups. Live stats and audio links can be found on the softball schedule page.