CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. --- Thanks to two dominant outings from Brooke Loudermilk and a lights-out bullpen, the Chattanooga softball team took two games in Day 1 of the 2009 Southern Conference Softball Championship. In the first game the Lady Mocs (28-22) defeated Western Carolina 2-1 and beat Furman 2-0 in the nightcap.
In Thursday’s finale Loudermilk threw five and a third of and allowed on three Paladin (22-28) hits. The junior did not walk a single batter and struck out six, while Kandice Irwin picked up her first save of the season. Irwin threw an inning and two-thirds and did not allow a Furman runner on base.
Lana Mackey (13-14) was the tough-luck loser in the contest, throwing a complete game and allowing seven hits.
The team will now play Samford at 3 p.m. on Friday for the rights to play in the championship game on Saturday.
In the nightcap the UTC offense was led by Toni Hutchison and Jessica Traxler with dual 2-for-3 evenings. Tiffany Baker and Tia Blosser provided the runs with RBI singles in the fourth and seventh, respectively. Blosser’s single came in the clutch as the junior came up with a pinch-hit, two-out single to give the Lady Mocs a big insurance run in the top of the seventh.
In the opening game for Chattanooga, Loudermilk and Michelle Fuzzard pitched outstanding for the 2-1 victory. Neither allowed an earned run as the duo allowed only two hits apiece.
Loudermilk (7-1) announced her presence early as the junior struck out the side in the first inning. In the bottom half of the frame, the UTC offense gave its pitcher some run support with two runs in the bottom half of the opening frame. The inning started with a leadoff single from Lyndsey Stiles, who was then sacrificed to second by Kaiti Kelley.
Stiles would score during the next at bat thanks to a Fuzzard single and an error by centerfielder Kristen Gay. After Tiffay Baker struck out, Toni Hutchison added the team’s second run on an RBI single into leftfield.
With a two-run lead, Loudermilk got through the second inning without any damage done, but ran into problems in the third. The inning began well for the right-hander as Loudermilk struck out Danielle Reese. However, the third strike was wild and Brittany Eason’s throw was errant, allowing Reese to advance to second.
Loudermilk settled down to retire the dangerous Amber Hawkins and Mollie Fowler, but Stephanie Beatty cut the UTC lead to one with a run-scoring, two-out single.
Neither team would mount another rally until both squads loaded the bases in the fifth. Fuzzard, who started the inning in relief of Loudermilk, was able to escape the jam with a strikeout of Lauren Ross. In UTC’s half of the inning the Lady Mocs put the first two hitters on via a Lauren Flores walk and Stiles single.
The two then advanced up a base on a Kaiti Kelley groundout before Fuzzard grounded out for the second out of the inning. With runners at second and third, Baker loaded the bases on a hit-by-pitch. UTC was unable to capitalize however as Toni Hutchison hit a line drive to third only to be snared by Beatty.
The Catamounts would put together a modest rally in the sixth, but Fuzzard closed the door on WCU as Chattanooga held on for the 2-1 win. Fuzzard picked up the first save of her career in the contest.
First pitch for Samford and Chattanooga is at 3 p.m. from Jim Frost Stadium. Live stats and streaming video with play-by-play will be available at GoMocs.com.