CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. --- For the third straight season, the Chattanooga softball team will finish the season atop the Southern Conference standings. On Saturday the Lady Mocs (25-19, 14-2 SoCon) swept Georgia Southern (22-21, 11-9 SoCon) in a doubleheader to capture the program’s 11th SoCon title, winning 2-1 and 5-4.
Michelle Fuzzard had a big day for UTC, driving in two clutch runs and going 3-for-4 with two walks. Kaiti Kelley was also big for the Lady Mocs, recording four hits and two runs for a team that has now won nine straight conference games.
Game 1 of the twin bill featured a pitcher’s duel between UTC’s Brooke Loudermilk and GSU’s Breanna Streetmon. The two combined for nine strikeouts and allowed only three runs and six hits.
Loudermilk (6-1) was unhittable for a majority of the contest as the junior threw six innings of no-hit softball. Her bid for a no-no was denied however as Nina Induate led off the seventh with a double into left-center.
Streetmon (13-7) was just as solid early on in the game as the southpaw did not allow a Lady Moc until a Kaiti Kelley single in the bottom of the fourth.
Chattanooga was finally able to break through in the bottom of the sixth with some help from the Eagle defense. Michelle Fuzzard led off the frame getting hit by a pitch and Tiffany Baker followed with a double into left-center to put runners at second and third with no one out.
After a Toni Hutchison walk loaded the bases, Brittany Eason hit a grounder to Robyne Siliga at third, but Siliga’s throw home was wild, allowing two Lady Mocs to score. Streetmon would settle down though, as the lefty retired the next three UTC batters in order to halt the Chattanooga rally.
In the seventh, Georgia Southern was not going down without a fight as the Eagles led off the inning with Iduate’s double. With a runner on second, Loudermilk hunkered down to retire the next two GSU hitters. Magen Smith then stepped to the plate for Georgia Southern and put the Eagles on the board with a single through the infield, followed by a base hit by Amanda Hall.
With two on and two outs, Loudermilk extinguished the GSU rally, getting Jenny Side to ground out.
Game 2 began much like the first, as both pitchers were strong early on. Fuzzard and Kristan Glover held the opposing offenses without a run in the first two innings.
In the third, Chattanooga was able to strike first thanks to a two-out single from Fuzzard, which scored Kelley.
In the next half inning, the Eagles were able to tie the game with the aid of a Sam Russo sacrifice fly.
After relief pitcher Kandice Irwin (7-10) held GSU scoreless in the fifth, the UTC offense was finally able to break through against Glover (6-4).
In the frame, the Lady Mocs batted around and had four runs thanks to five hits. The scoring began with Fuzzard’s second RBI single of the contest, followed by a sacrifice fly from Baker. With the score 3-1, UTC was not through as Toni Hutchison and Jenni Martin each drove in a run to give the Lady Mocs a 5-1 lead.
Georgia Southern was not done however, despite the four run deficit. In the sixth, the Eagles were able to cut the Chattanooga lead in half with RBI singles from Amanda Hall and Megen Smith.
After the Lady Mocs failed to score in the bottom of the sixth, despite loading the bases, the Eagles came to the plate looking for one last chance for a win.
The inning began well for Georgia Southern as Amanda Glover led off with a solo homer of Loudermilk, who entered the game in relief during the sixth. After Glover’s homer, Hanna Ennis continued the rally with a ringing double into left-center.
Kaity Holloway then entered the game for UTC and the first batter she face, Marie Fogle, had an infield single to put runners on first and third with no one out. That would be all Holloway would allow though as the next batter, Iduate, grounded to short and Jessica Traxler threw out pinchrunner Caitlin Hart at the plate. From there, the righty got Siliga to fly out to short and Sam Russo then fouled out to third for her third save of the season.
The Lady Mocs will now be the No. 1 seed in the upcoming Southern Conference Tournament, which begins on May 6 from Jim Frost Stadium.
The team will wrap up its series with Georgia Southern on Sunday at 2 p.m. from Jim Frost Stadium.
Live stats and video will be available at GoMocs.com.