MT. PLEASANT, S.C. --- Thanks to a strong outing from Kandice Irwin and three RBIs from Michelle Fuzzard, the Chattanooga softball team was able to split in a Southern Conference doubleheader with College of Charleston on Saturday. The Cougars (22-24/13-9 SoCon) were able to take the opening game 4-2, while the Lady Mocs (26-21/15-4 SoCon) claimed game two 7-4.
The Cougars took the opening game from the Lady Mocs thanks to single runs in the fourth and sixth. Kaity Holloway (4-3) took the loss for UTC, throwing four and two-thirds innings in relief. The sophomore allowed two runs on seven hits while walking two and striking out seven. Shannon Howard (6-11) picked up the win for CofC, throwing three and third of scoreless softball and allowing only two hits.
In game one, Michelle Fuzzard got the start due to an injury to Brooke Loudermilk minutes before the game was to begin. Fuzzard escaped the first inning but ran into trouble in the second.
Howard led off the frame with a walk before Fuzzard recorded the first out on a Katie Forbes flyout. The College of Charleston rally continued as Katie Nutaitis and Amanda Maurer the followed with back-to-back singles. Howard scored on Maurer’s base hit to leftfield to give CofC a 1-0 lead.
The Cougars were able to plate another run in the inning thanks to a bases loaded walk by Holloway to Christal Kotchman. Holloway would escape with no further damage done as she struck out Amber Shifflett to end the second.
Mesko continued to control the UTC offense until the fourth, when the Lady Mocs’ big bats finally awoke. Fuzzard got Chattanooga on the board first with a one-out, solo home run to left center, her sixth on the season. The shot was Fuzzard’s first in a 16-game span for the sophomore.
Not to be left out, Tiffany Baker came up the plate next and promptly deposited her 11th homer of the season in left-centerfield as well, to tie the game at two. Toni Hutchison then kept the inning going with her first of the day, a single into leftfield.
Brittany Eason would step to the plate next and tried to get the Lady Mocs their third run of the day with a double to left-center. However, Hutchison was thrown out at home by CofC centerfielder Kristi Woodall.
That would be all for the Chattanooga offense though as the Cougars were able to shutout the Lady Mocs for the duration of the contest. CofC tacked on runs in the fourth and sixth off a double by Kotchman and a run scoring triple from Tiffany Harmon.
In the second game of the doubleheader, Irwin (8-10) pitched six strong innings en route to the 7-4 win. Fuzzard and Lyndsey Stiles each had three hits each at the plate to pace the UTC offense. Stiles was also a menace on the basepaths as the sophomore swiped three bags in the nightcap.
In the contest both pitchers were able to hold down the opposing offenses, that is, until the third, when the Chattanooga offense exploded. The Lady Mocs jumped on College of Charleston pitcher Katie Forbes for five runs off seven hits in the inning.
The rally began with three straight singles from Lynleigh Hurndon, Lauren Flores and Stiles. Kaiti Kelley then got UTC its first runs of the game with the first double of her career, which drove in two. Up came Fuzzard and she bumped the Chattanooga lead to three with a single into right center.
With runners on first and third, Baker continued the pile on with a ringing double down the left field line to score Kelley. That would mark the end of the day for Forbes (2-1), who did not retire a batter in the inning.
In came Howard again and the righty was able to record two quick outs before Jessica Traxler capped off the rally with a single through the left side of the infield.
With a big lead, Irwin was able to cruise through the Cougar order in the third. Fuzzard added another run on the scoreboard with another RBI single in the fourth, giving UTC a 6-0 lead.
After yet another Fuzzard RBI single in the sixth, UTC went into the seventh with the game seemingly in hand. However CofC had other ideas.
The seventh began with back-to-back singles from Nutaitis and Lonergan as the Cougars quickly had two runners on.
That would end Irwin’s afternoon as Holloway entered the game to try and close the door on the College of Charleston. Holloway struggled through the first two batters as Woodall and Harmon helped get CofC on the board with run scoring singles. Down 7-3, the sophomore then got Kotchman to foul out for the first out of the inning.
Up came Amber Shifflett next and she cut the lead down to four with a RBI triple to right-centerfield. That would be it for the Cougar scare though, as Holloway finally settled down to retire the next two batters for the 7-4 win.
The two teams will now play the rubber game of the series on Sunday at 1 p.m. Live stats and video will be available at GoMocs.com.