SPARTANBURG, S.C. - University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
junior pitcher and designated player Michelle Fuzzard (Huntington Beach,
Calif.) was honored as the Southern Conference Player of the Year, while head coach Frank Reed received his fourth-straight and fifth overall Coach of the Year award. The Lady Mocs were well represented on the all-conference teams as five were chosen to the first team, two received second team honors and catcher Natalie Powers (Gleenpool, Okla.) earned all-freshman recognition. The league awards are voted upon by the SoCon head coaches and were announced on Monday.
Seniors third baseman Tiffany Baker (East Ridge, Tenn.), pitcher Kandice Irwin (Knoxville, Tenn.) and center fielder Lyndsey Stiles (Hixson, Tenn.), junior catcher Vivian Morimoto and Fuzzard were named to the first team. The second team included the right side of the infield in sophomores second baseman Sara Poteat (Thomaston, Ga.) and first baseman Kasey Tydingco (Fairfield, Calif.)
"It has been an honor to coach this team," said Reed at a press conference inside the media room at McKenzie Arena on Monday. "Placing eight players on the all-conference teams is very impressive and the individual awards are great, but the entire team has to be acknowledge for their body of work this season. The strength of this year's squad is not that we have [Michelle] Fuzzard and [Tiffany] Baker, but that everyone from one to nine in the lineup is a threat."
The Player of the Year distinction for Fuzzard is only the fourth for Chattanooga and the first time since Melissa Ramirez in 2004. Allison Devries in 1999 and Angela Brewer in 2001 were the others to be honored with the award.
Coach Reed led the Lady Mocs to their fifth-straight and 13th overall SoCon Regular Season Championship. Chattanooga set a league-record for wins in conference play with a 20-3 mark, while the Lady Mocs are 38-12 overall on the season.
"I think it is a big deal for us," said Fuzzard on setting a league record for victories. "You are always trying to play your best out there and that is what we did. We played our game and earned those wins."
Fuzzard's first team selection is the third of her career. She led the league in batting average (.418), slugging pct. (.758), RBI (67) and hits (64). She also hit 13 home runs on the season. She broke the conference and school RBI record this season. The dual-threat pitcher also collected a 16-6 mark on the year, tied for first in the league, while striking out 81 in 125.0 innings pitched. The Huntington Beach, Calif., native earned first team at first base and second team pitcher in 2009, while being named the SoCon Freshman of the Year in 2008 as a first-team first baseman.
Earning a third-straight first team honor was Baker as she set the SoCon All-Time Home Run record in April and now has 47 in her four-year career. The East Ridge, Tenn., native drove in 56 runs on 56 hits, while setting the Lady Mocs single-season home run record with 15.Baker compiled a .381 average during the season and slugged .755.
"The Charleston series was an eye opening experience for us," said Baker on what the team learned after being swept. "We realized we are not unstoppable. This team still has to perform, no matter who the opponent is. At any given moment, we could lose a game. Every game, inning and pitch matters."
Another senior in center fielder Stiles received her third first team honor for posting a .392 batting average with 27 RBI and set a Chattanooga single-season record with 32 stolen bases. The Hixson, Tenn., native is the Lady Mocs leadoff hitter and also broke the season mark for runs scored with 57. Stiles was named second-team all-conference as a freshman.
With a 1.32 ERA, four-year pitcherposted a 12-3 mark and six saves to be named to the first team. It was her second all-conference honor as last year she was on the second team. Irwin is tied for fifth in NCAA history with 19 career saves.
Tearing up the SoCon was catcher, who paced the league in batting average at .533 in SoCon games. She came to the Lady Mocs as junior college transfer from Miami-Dade and improved as the season progressed. The Sao Paulo, Brazil native finished with a .415 average and .679 slugging pct. including eight doubles and six home runs.
Two sensational sophomores on the right side of the infield in Poteat and Tydingco were named to the second team. Poteat has made some phenomenal plays up the middle for the Lady Mocs and has been a perfect threat behind Stiles recording a SoCon batting average of .508. The Thomaston, Ga., native has swiped 12 bases on the season and compiled a .480 on-base pct.
After earning all-freshman recognition last year, Tydingco has continued where she left off at first base. The Fairfield, Calif., native has registered a .305 batting average, while driving in 30 runs. She was slotted behind Fuzzard and Baker for most of the season and came up with some key base hits including 12 doubles and five home runs. Tydingco is strong defensively at first boasting a .993 fielding pct. and 287 putouts.
All-freshman team honors went to catcher Powers, who has a caught three of nine base stealers. The Gleenpool, Okla., native was not tested often during the second half of the season after gunning down two would be base stealers on the opening weekend. She has split time with Morimoto behind the plate and registered a .324 batting average, while driving in eight runs.
The seven players on the first and second teams ties for the most in league and school history. The five Lady Mocs on the first team is the second time that has occurred tying the 1998 squad. In 1999 and 2001, six Chattanooga players set a record for most first team selections in league history.
Chattanooga opens its quest for an 11th SoCon Tournament Title on Wednesday at 2 p.m., in Statesboro, Ga., as the No. 1 seed. The Lady Mocs will face No. 8 seed Furman or No. 9 Western Carolina, who participate in the play-in game at 10 a.m. Links to live stats and a video broadcast will be available on the softball schedule page of GoMocs.com, the official website of Chattanooga Athletics. The bracket for the 2011 SoCon Tournament can be accessed at the top of the page.2011 Southern Conference Softball
2011 SoCon All-Conference Teams
Pitcher: Alexa Datko, College of Charleston
Pitcher: Kandice Irwin, Chattanooga
Catcher: Vivian Morimoto, Chattanooga
1st Base: Alex Emeterio, UNCG
2nd Base: Morgan Hughey, Furman
Shortstop: Jessie Homesley, Furman
3rd Base: Tiffany Baker, Chattanooga
Outfield: Allie Cashion, Appalachian State
Outfield: Lyndsey Stiles, Chattanooga
Outfield: Marie Fogle, Georgia Southern
Designated Player: Michelle Fuzzard, Chattanooga
Utility Player: Meghan Smith, Appalachian State
Pitcher: Hannah Dow, Appalachian State
Pitcher: Allie Miles, Georgia Southern
Catcher: Kaitlyn Piazzolla, Elon
1st Base: Kasey Tydingco, Chattanooga
2nd Base: Sara Poteat, Chattanooga
Shortstop: Kaitlin Merkt, UNCG
3rd Base: Katie Boyd, Appalachian State
Outfield: Carly Corthell, College of Charleston
Outfield: Carleigh Nester, Elon
Outfield: Tomeka Watson, Elon
Designated Player: Eileen Horsmon, UNCG
Utility Player: Megen Smith, Georgia Southern
Carly Corthell, College of Charleston
Kelsey Hodgson, College of Charleston
Lizzy Vaughn, College of Charleston
Carleigh Nester, Elon
Lauren Collier, Furman
Allie Miles, Georgia Southern
Katelyn Bedwell, UNCG
Aisha Figueroa, UNCG
Nicole Bobrowski, Samford
Natalie Powers, Chattanooga
Player of the Year
Michelle Fuzzard, Chattanooga
Pitcher of the Year
Alexa Datko, College of Charleston
Freshman of the Year
Allie Miles, Georgia Southern
Coach of the Year
Frank Reed, Chattanooga