The Chattanooga softball team returned to work Monday with morning and gathered at the UTC Indoor Hitting Facility later that afternoon for its first practice of the new year.
With just 31 days until the team’s season opener, head coach Frank Reed is trying to stress to the Lady Mocs just how important this final month of preparation is.
“I don’t know that they understand how big these next four weeks of practice are,” Reed said. “I believe our upperclassmen know. Our seniors, Kasey Tydingco, Sara Poteat, and Ninjja Suetsugu know, but there are just so many opportunities for those young kids to find their way into the lineup. As a coaching staff, we’re going to be looking at how much they have learned and how much they have grown.”
Chattanooga is looking to replace 42 of last season’s 66 total home runs with the graduation of pitcher/designated hitter Michelle Fuzzard (16), catcher Vivian Morimoto (14) and shorstop Jessica Traxler (12), along with 167 of 349 runs batted in.
“We are trying to find our offense,” Reed said. “We may not be the power-hitting team that we were in 2012, but that doesn’t mean we can’t win without power hitting. We have a lot of talented student-athletes who can hit the ball hard and know where the gaps are. The hard part is finding a place in the lineup for all of them.”
With 23 players on its roster, as opposed to last season’s 15, the Lady Mocs enter spring practice with nine freshmen and three transfers on its squad.
“It’s going to make for a competitive January leading up to the first game of the season,” Reed said. “There are a few positions and spots in the lineup we are confident about, but there are still a few spots that are up for grabs. I hope the team realizes this as well.”
UTC opens the season Feb. 8 in Clermont, Fla, at the National Training Center Invitational, where the Lady Mocs will face Fordham, Southern Illinois, Long Island and Virginia Tech.