CLERMONT, Fla. (WRCB/UTC) - The 2012 season started Friday morning with many questions for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga softball team.
UTC graduated five senior starters, including two pitchers, before heading to the Dot Richardson's National Collegiate Invitational in Clermont, Fla.
But the Lady Mocs made a quick statement by flexing their offensive power in a 12-1 season-opening win over Bethune-Cookman (0-1) in five innings, then followed the lead freshman pitcher Taylor Deason in a 5-3 victory over Florida A&M (0-1) in the nightcap.
Senior pitcher and designated player Michelle Fuzzard had a productive day, tallying three hits, including a two-run home run and six RBI. The Huntington Beach, Calif., native was also the winning pitcher in the opener, giving up just five hits and posting two strikeouts in the five inning contest.
Deason shined in game two. The Clarksville, Tenn., product tossed a complete game three-hitter and recorded six strikeouts in her collegiate debut.
"In Taylor's first inning, we made a defensive error and a couple of miscues, but Taylor really settled down and that's going to build her confidence," said head coach Frank Reed, who picked up career win No. 400 against Bethune-Cookeman. "It was a great outing for Taylor and a great outing for our freshmen."
Five newcomers in freshmen outfielder Cheyenne Willis, outfielder Nicole Osterman, third baseman Sarah Beth Roberts, and Deason along with junior third baseman Ninjja Suetsugu made their first collegiate starts. Sophomore Kaiti Dutton, who had four hits, was the other new starter in an outfield that graduated three standouts from a year ago.
Roberts and Willis led the newcomers with a combined four hits, while Willis also drove in two runs and scored four times. Osterman and Suetsugu each tallied a hit and RBI in the first game.
"I said going in I thought we had a pretty good offensive lineup," said Reed. "We were trying to get our best offensive people in, and I am very proud of our freshmen. Willis and Osterman did an awesome job today along with our other players.
"It's always fun to score runs, especially when you can get the win in five innings. You don't want to over work your pitchers so everything worked out for us."
Sophomore second baseman Sara Poteat added four hits on the day from her lead-off spot, along with three RBI and two runs scored.
Chattanooga returns to action tomorrow with two games on the docket starting off at 11 a.m. against North Carolina and then facing UCF at 5 p.m. ET.
Information provided by UTC Sports Information and GoMocs.com.