Southern Conference Champion Chattanooga heads to Tuscaloosa Regional for match up with No. 3 Alabama
Photo Courtesy of Jeff Hurndon
The Chattanooga Lady Mocs (41-20) return to the NCAA Tournament field in 2008 and will head to the Tuscaloosa Regional along with No. 3 Alabama (51-6), Florida State (37-26) and Jacksonville State (38-14) for games from May 15-17 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
Chattanooga Lady Mocs
2008 Record: 41-20, 13-5
2007 and 2008 Southern Conference Regular Season Champions
2008 Southern Conference Tournament Champions
NCAA Appearance: 6 (2000-04, 2008)
The Chattanooga Lady Mocs enter the 2008 NCAA Regional Tournament in Tuscaloosa, Alabama following a tremendous effort in winning the 2008 Southern Conference Tournament. Seeded No. 1 overall, UTC won it’s first game against No. 8 Western Carolina, 3-1 before falling into the losers bracket with a 3-1 loss to No. 5 UNC Greensboro.
From that point, Chattanooga rallied, taking five consecutive games beginning with a 9-1 drubbing of No. 7 Appalachian State and 5-2 win over No. 3 College of Charleston on May 9. That pitted them against the Spartans of UNC Greensboro again, this time for the right to advance to the Championship Series against No. 2 Georgia Southern.
The Lady Mocs and Brooke Loudermilk handled UNCG 3-0 in what would be the first of three games UTC would have to win on May 10. Trailing 2-0 in the fifth inning against Georgia Southern in the first of a possible two game series, Chattanooga rallied with a run in the bottom of the inning to make it 2-1. In the home half of the seventh inning, Tiffany Baker led off with a double to the left centerfield gap before scoring the tying run on a Tara Tembey single past the second baseman.
With the bases loaded and the game tied at 2-2, Michelle Fuzzard powered a ball of the top of the right field fence for a game-winning single to secure a 3-2 victory and a second game against the Eagles.
In that game, Chattanooga left no doubt as Tembey led off the game with a home run to make it 1-0. A matching shot in the bottom of the second inning by GSU tied it at 1-1 before a scoreless stretch of two innings. In the top of the fifth inning, following two fly ball outs, the Lady Mocs pounded out eight hits and drove in nine runs to take a 10-1 lead.
Tembey connected for her second home run of the game and Toni Hutchison capped off the rally with a three-run shot down the left field line to put Georgia Southern against the ropes. Freshman Kandice Irwin then finished the Eagles off with a 1-2-3 performance in the bottom of the fifth inning to get the win and secure Chattanooga’s ninth Southern Conference Tournament Championship. It is the program’s first since the 2004 season.
Chattanooga Statistical Leaders
Michelle Fuzzard leads the Lady Mocs with a .357 batting average, .414 on-base percentage and 14 doubles and is tied for fourth on the team with five homeruns and is fourth with 33 RBIs and a .535 slugging percentage. Tara Tembey enters the Tuscaloosa Regional batting .340 with nine doubles, four triples, seven homeruns, 29 RBIs, a .519 slugging percentage and a career-high and team-leading 13 steals. She also is coming off a career performance in the Southern Conference Tournament in which she pounded three home runs, including two in the 10-1 clincher against Georgia Southern, and drove in six runs.
Laci Upchurch is also swinging a hot bat after drilling two home runs and producing eight RBIs in the conference tournament. She currently leads the team with 39 RBIs and is second with nine home runs to go along with a .309 batting average. Junior third baseman Toni Hutchison is third on the team with a .311 batting average and 36 RBIs after batting .409 with seven RBIs in seven conference tournament games. She is also tied for fourth with five home runs and has 11 doubles and a .489 slugging percentage. Freshman outfielder Lyndsey Stiles (Hixson, Tenn.) is perfect on the base paths and is second on the team in steals with nine while Katie Blevins continues to lead Chattanooga in home runs with 13 and slugging percentage with a .680 clip. Her 37 RBIs are good for second on the team.
In the pitching circle, Brooke Loudermilk has never been stronger as she leads the 2008 staff in nearly every significant statistical category. She currently boasts a 1.67 ERA, 239 strikeouts, 18 wins (18-7), five saves, an opposing batting average of .182 and 188.1 innings pitched. In the Southern Conference Tournament, Loudermilk compiled a 5-0 record and appeared in all seven games while striking out 48 batters over 35.2 innings and walking only seven.
Kaitlin Holloway continues to be one of Chattanooga’s most effective pitchers, having collected wins in seven of nine outings, all in relief, from April 2-May 3. That included the Southern Conference regular season clinching victory over Georgia Southern on May 3. During that stretch she struck out 21 batters and allowed only 18 hits and four runs over 31.0 innings. Overall, she has made 24 appearances, 23 in relief, and is 9-2 with 46 strikeouts in 56.0 innings with a .228 opposing batting average.
Freshman Kandice Irwin (Knoxville, Tenn.) is tied for second on the team with nine wins (9-8) and is second with 106 strikeouts, a 2.57 ERA and a .234 opposing batting average.
Lady Mocs in the National Rankings
Nationally, Loudermilk is tied for 10th in the country with five saves and is 26th in strikeouts per seven innings with an 8.90 average and is 57th in Earned Run Average. She also ranks 71st in victories with 18 on the season while Katie Blevins is 27th in home runs per game (0.28), 66th in slugging percentage (.680) and is also tied for the 48th most home runs in the country with 13. Tara Tembey also ranks 40th in triples with four while Toni Hutchison is 79th in sacrifice flies.
As a team, Chattanooga is tenth in the country with a .975 fielding percentage and trails NCAA leader Texas A&M (.984) by only .009. The Lady Mocs .672 winning percentage ranks them for 41st in the country while their average of 0.80 home runs per game is good for 38th in the nation. They are also ranked 79th in triples per game (0.18), 55th in slugging (.420), 58th in ERA (2.34) and 84th in scoring (4.26). As a result of a strong performance in the Southern Conference Tournament, Chattanooga has broken into the top 100 in hitting, ranking 99th with a .270 average.
Watch Out For Falling Records
Both Tara Tembey and Laci Upchurch are within reach of breaking Chattanooga’s all-time home run record of 25 held by Melissa Ramirez (2002-05). Both players are at 23 home runs after bashing a combined five long balls in the conference tournament. Tembey has the remainder of this season as a senior while Upchurch has one campaign remaining after this season.
Brooke Loudermilk’s five saves this season give her the fourth most in a single season in the 15-year history of Chattanooga softball and also rank her fourth on the all-time career list. She is one save shy of tying the career mark of eight and is one away from tying for second place in a single season with 6.
Tembey is also two at bats shy of 800 for her career which will make her only the second Chattanooga Lady Moc ever to accomplish the feat. The only other is UTC’s all-time stolen base leader Jeannie Cochran with 866.
2008 NCAA Tournament Field – Tuscaloosa Regional
No. 3 Alabama: 51-7, 13-5 (Southeastern Conference)
Florida State: 37-26, 12-9 (Atlantic Coast Conference)
Jacksonville State: 38-14, 22-4 (Ohio Valley Conference)
Chattanooga will open play at 6:30 p.m. (CDT) when they face No. 3 Alabama in second game of the opening day of the Regional. The Crimson tide have been one of the three best teams in the country all season, holding the No. 1 ranking most of the season and finishing with a 51-6 overall record and 25-3 mark in the Southeastern Conference. Florida State enters the Regional with a 37-26 overall record and 12-9 record in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Jacksonville State is the only team in the Regional that Chattanooga has faced this season, falling 7-6 in eight innings and 7-5 on February 20. The Gamecocks are 38-14 overall and 22-4 in the Ohio Valley Conference.
No. 3 Alabama Crimson Tide
2008 Record: 51-6, 25-3
NCAA Appearance: 10 (1999-2008)
Conference: Southeastern Conference
Southeastern Conference Western Division Champion
Florida State University Seminoles
2008 Record: 37-26, 12-9
NCAA Appearance: 21 (1986-1996, 1998, 2000-08)
Conference: Atlantic Coast Conference
Jacksonville State Gamecocks
2008 Record: 38-14, 22-4
NCAA Appearance: N/A
Conference: Ohio Valley Conference
Ohio Valley Conference Regular Season and Tournament Champion
All-Time Series vs. 2008 NCAA Tournament Field – Tuscaloosa Regional
No. 3 Alabama: Overall - 2-6, Post-season - First Meeting
Florida State: Overall - 0-7, Post-season - 0-1
Jacksonville State: Overall - 24-13, Post-season - First Meeting
Chattanooga is 4-10 all-time in the NCAA Tournament and holds a 26-26 mark against teams in the Tuscaloosa Regional. The Lady Mocs are 0-1 all-time against teams in this year’s Regional.
All-Time Series vs. 2008 NCAA Tournament Field – Tuscaloosa Regional
No. 3 Alabama
April 11, 2007 - No. 2 Alabama, 8-1
April 11, 2007 - No. 2 Alabama, 8-6
Feb. 28, 2004 - No. 16 Alabama, 9-0 (5)
April 22, 2003 - Alabama, 6-3
April 11, 2001 - Chattanooga, 5-4
April 11, 2007 - Alabama, 2-1 (9)
March 12, 1999 - Alabama, 2-0
Feb. 28, 1998 - Chattanooga, 9-5
May 19, 2002 - Florida State, 1-0 %
February 11, 2001 - No. 14 Florida State, 3-2 (10)
February 10, 2001 - No. 14 Florida State, 4-1
March 26, 2000 - Florida State, 2-1
March 24, 2000 - Florida State, 1-0
March 14, 1997 - Florida State, 3-1
March 8, 1996 - Florida State, 5-2
% - NCAA Regional
Feb. 20, 2008 - JSU, 7-5
Feb. 20, 2008 - JSU, 7-6 (8)
April 4, 2007 - Chattanooga, 3-0
April 4, 2007 - JSU, 7-0
March 6, 2007 - JSU, 2-1
March 6, 2007 - Chattanooga, 5-2
May 3, 2006 - JSU, 1-0
May 3, 2006 - Chattanooga, 11-3 (5)
March 7, 2006 - JSU, 7-2
March 7, 2006 - JSU, 3-1
March 15, 2005 - Chattanooga, 3-0
March 15, 2005 - Chattanooga, 4-1
March 18, 2004 - Chattanooga, 4-2 (8)
March 18, 2004 - JSU, 5-4
April 4, 2001 - Chattanooga, 4-0
April 4, 2001 - Chattanooga, 2-0
Feb. 27, 2001 - Chattanooga, 3-0
April 17, 2000 - Chattanooga, 2-1
April 17, 2000 - Chattanooga, 1-0 (8)
March 4, 2000 - Chattanooga, 8-0 (5)
March 4, 2000 - Chattanooga, 2-1
March 2, 1999 - Chattanooga, 6-0
Feb. 24, 1999 - Chattanooga, 9-3
March 28, 1998 - Chattanooga, 7-1
March 28, 1998 - JSU, 3-0
Feb. 25, 1998 - Chattanooga, 3-2
Feb. 25, 1998 - Chattanooga, 1-0 (10)
April 17, 1997 - JSU, 7-4
April 17, 1997 - Chattanooga, 1-0
March 26, 1997 - JSU, 8-6
March 26, 1997 - JSU, 8-6
March 26, 1997 - JSU, 4-2
Feb. 26, 1996 - Chattanooga, 6-5
Feb. 26, 1996 - JSU, 2-0
March 22, 1994 - Chattanooga, 5-3
March 22, 1994 - Chattanooga, 1-0
All-Time Results in NCAA Tournament
A part of the NCAA field of 64 for the first time since 2004, Chattanooga is making its sixth appearance all-time and holds a 4-10 record in NCAA Tournament competition. UTC made five consecutive trips to the tournament from 2000-2004 and came within one victory in 2002 of advancing to the Super Regionals when they took two games from Florida Atlantic, 3-0 and 6-1, and dropped narrow decisions to Georgia Tech, 3-1, and Florida State, 1-0 in eight innings.
Chattanooga’s other two NCAA Tournament victories came in the program’s first two trips when the Lady Mocs defeated Army 6-4 in nine innings in 2000 and Illinois-Chicago 5-2 a year later. UTC has currently lost its last four NCAA Tournament games, falling to Stanford 2-0 and Massachusetts 3-0 in 2003 and 4-1 to Washington and 6-0 to Texas A&M in 2004.
This is the third time that UTC has been sent to the Tuscaloosa Regional. Previously they had played there in 2001, notching the win over UIC, and again in 2003.
2000 Regional at Spokane, Wash. (1-2)
Mississippi State 6, Chattanooga 1
Chattanooga 6, Army 4 (9)
2001 Regional at Tuscaloosa, Ala. (1-2)
Michigan 1, Chattanooga 0
Chattanooga 5, Illinois-Chicago
Oregon State 13, Chattanooga 0 (5)
2002 Regional at Tallahasse, Fla. (2-2)
Chattanooga 3, Florida Atlantic 0
Chattanooga 6, Florida Atlantic 1
Georgia Tech 3, Chattanooga 1
Florida State 1, Chattanooga 0 (8)
2003 Regional at Tuscaloosa, Ala. (0-2)
Stanford 2, Chattanooga 0
Massachusetts 3, Chattanooga 0
2004 Regional at Athens, Ga. (0-2)
Washington 4, Chattanooga 1
Texas A&M 6, Chattanooga 0