Hot-hitting Lady Mocs ready for the SoCon Tournament - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Hot-hitting Lady Mocs ready for the SoCon Tournament

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CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- University of Tennessee at Chattanooga softball coach Frank Reed has run out of ways to describe his team's offense.

But that's okay because the Lady Mocs' high-powered bats often speak for themselves.

"I mean, what do you say? It's just nasty, isn't it?" Reed said with a big grin. "And it's fun coaching that type of team."

Reed didn't expect to have that type of team in 2012 after graduating six seniors from a lineup that led the nation in hitting a year ago.

Volunteer assistant Lindsey Ubrun didn't share his outlook.

"Coach Lindsey told me we'd hit close to what we hit last year. I told her, 'If we do, I'll bow to you. Well I'll be bowing to Lindsey Ubrun," Reed said.

Despite losing the school's career home-run leader in Tiffany Baker and lead-off spark in Lyndsey Stiles, the Lady Mocs didn't miss a beat.

Reed believes Ubrun deserves the credit.

"She's there every day, hands on," he said. "You can't put a price on what she does. She's just really excited about her work and the kids pick up on that excitement.

"They just love hitting the ball for her."

And they've hit plenty of them this year en route to the nation's top team batting average for a second straight season.

Chattanooga is hitting .353 as a team according to the NCAA's final regular season statistics, and it also leads the country in doubles and ranks in the top five nationally in both runs scored and slugging percentage.

"Nobody ever thought about how we were going to score runs," said junior first baseman and first-team all-SoCon selection Kasey Tydingco. "Everybody has stepped up. Second through nine, everybody in the order has hit home runs and everybody has stepped up where they needed to."

The team is not be as reliant on the long ball as it's been in the past, but that's hardly a bad thing.

Reed believes his lineup, top to bottom, is one of the most complete groups of hitters he's ever had.

"I never thought I'd say this, but if you factored another pitcher onto this team, I hate to say it, but it may be better than last year's team all around," Reed said.

The most glaring difference between the two squads on paper is experience.

Four underclassmen stepped into the lineup as first-year starters in true freshmen Cheyenne Willis and Sarah Beth Roberts and sophomores Stephanie Rieck and Layne Rainey.

At season's end, Willis, Roberts and Rieck were all second-team all-SoCon selections.

"They still have to come around on the mental side of the game a little bit, but physically they were ready to go when they got here," said fifth-year senior and two-time reigning SoCon Player of the Year Michelle Fuzzard. "Even in the pressure-cooker situations this year they proved they were ready and we were confident they could step up to the challenge."

The second-seeded Lady Mocs' next challenge is No. 7 Elon on Wednesday at noon in the opening round of the SoCon Tournament in Boone, NC.

It will be the first taste of postseason pressure for the young quartet, but Fuzzard doesn't expect them to be phased.

"I think they've been able to understand that everything we do has a purpose and every game we play means something," she said of her first-year starters. "I think they'll rise to the occasion just like they have all year."

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