The Chattanooga Lady Mocs softball team received word on their drive to Appalachian State Monday morning that nine student-athletes were recognized on the two All-Southern Conference teams, setting a new league record. Senior designated player and pitcher Michelle Fuzzard (Huntington Beach, Calif.) was named SoCon Player of the Year for the second-consecutive season and became the first two-time award winner since Julie Glasser, Furman (1995-97).
Representing the Lady Mocs on the first team were senior catcher Vivian Morimoto (Sao Paulo, Brazil), juniors second baseman Sara Poteat (Thomaston, Ga.) and first baseman Kasey Tydingco (Fairfield, Calif.) and designated player Fuzzard.
Five more student-athletes in senior shortstop Jessica Traxler (Chino Hills, Calif.), sophomore outfielder Stephanie Rieck (Chandler, Ariz.) and freshmen pitcher Taylor Deason (Clarksville, Tenn.), third baseman Sarah Beth Roberts (Mt. Juliet, Tenn.) and outfielder Cheyenne Willis (Manchester, Tenn.) were honored to the second team.
Chattanooga's three first-year starters Deason, Roberts and Willis were additionally named to the all-freshman team.
"I am proud that the coaches in the conference are able to recognize that these student-athlete are awesome ball players," said head coach Frank Reed. "If you look back at their statistics, they are all well-deserving of these honors. This is a just reward for these student-athletes that worked hard and have done what the coaching staff has asked them to do."
With the new mark set at nine, the previous record for number of all-conference selections was set in 2008 by Georgia Southern with eight honorees (4 first team, 4 second team).
Coming into the season, Chattanooga lost six senior starters and regrouped with a strong freshman and sophomore class. The Lady Mocs have increased their NCAA-leading batting average of .351 last year to .353 in 2012. It was a complete team effort as all nine starters registered at least a .300 average.
SoCon Player of the Year, Fuzzard, received her fourth first team selection of her career along with a second team honor in 2009. She led the league in RBI with 61 for the second-straight year and on-base pct. at .545. The Huntington Beach, Calif., native was among the top five in the conference in eight offensive categories including batting (.424), hits (59), runs (48), homers (14), doubles (16), total bases (117), walks (37) and slugging (.872). The former SoCon Freshman of the Year in 2008 became the first player is league history to be earn first team at a position (1B) and second team at pitcher in 2009.
"This is an amazing feeling to be recognized by the coaches of the SoCon for the second-straight year," said Fuzzard. "They understand the hard work that I have put in on a daily basis. It was a team effort though as the entire lineup has to be credited for the opportunities that I had this year."
In the circle, Fuzzard was a consistent presence tallying a 15-7 mark with 81 strikeouts in a career-high 138.2 innings pitched.She has accomplished a lot since sitting out the 2010 season a torn ACL, rehabbing it and returning to became an even better player than before the injury.
Chattanooga knew with just two pitchers entering the 2012 season that Deason would have to step up. The Clarksville, Tenn., native did just that, posting a league-best 22-7 mark as she tied the Chattanooga freshman record in victories last achieved by Brooke Loudermilk in 2007. The second team honoree recorded a 2.25 ERA with 157 strikeouts in 183.2 innings of work and completed 17 contests including two shutouts. The freshman had a single-game high of 11 strikeouts in the Lady Mocs 5-3 win at Ole Miss.
Morimoto was selected for her second-straight SoCon first team honor at catcher after transferring from Miami-Dade. The Sao Paulo, Brazil, native has been the Chattanooga cleanup hitter registering a league-best 18 doubles and driving in 56 runs. She compiled a .335 average and .683 slugging pct., while setting a personal-best with 13 home runs.
The third player in the middle of the Lady Mocs lineup, Tydingco, to drive in more than 50 runs on the campaign was named the first team as well. The first baseman knocked in 59 runs and registered 17 doubles, three triples and 11 homers. This is the first selection to the first team for the Fairfield, Calif., native after receiving second team honors in 2011. She recorded a .739 slugging and .438 on-base pct., during the campaign.
Poteat, the Lady Mocs second baseman, paced the SoCon in batting average at .448 and garnered first team recognition for the first time in her career. The Thomaston, Ga., native tallied 60 hits, while compiling a .497 on-base pct. She swiped 17 bases on the season. Poteat is one of the best defensive second basemen in the conference with her range and ability to make acrobatic plays in the infield. She was named as the 2011 SoCon Tournament Most Outstanding Player.
Receiving her first All-SoCon honor in her senior season was Traxler, who took second team honors at shortstop. The Chino Hills, Calif., native posted a .331 average with seven doubles, 10 home runs and 39 RBI, all career highs. She registered 60 putouts and 87 assists defensively.
Coach Reed inserted Rieck into the starting lineup early in conference play and the Chandler, Ariz., native did not disappoint compiling a .444 average in 26 starts for the Lady Mocs. She became a threat batting in front of Fuzzard, driving in 15 runs and registering 40 hits including seven doubles. Rieck posted a .522 slugging and .495 on-base pct.
A freshman in Willis, emerged as a consistent player for Chattanooga, who had to replace all three outfield positions following graduation last year. She stepped up into a leadoff role in the second-half of the season and recorded a .369 average and .557 slugging and .434 on-base pct. The Manchester, Tenn., native showed power as well with 11 doubles, a league-leading four triples and four home runs and has the ability to develop into a triple-threat for the Lady Mocs.
The third first-year player to be recognized was Roberts, who tallied a.331 average with 41 hits including 10 doubles, a triple and two home runs. She stepped in defensively for Tiffany Baker at third base and recorded 35 putouts and 98 assists. The Mt. Juliet, Tenn., native slugged .476 and has a .407 on-base pct., while stealing six bases.
The Lady Mocs are the second seed in the SoCon Tournament and seek to defend their title from a year ago beginning on Wednesday at noon against No. 7 Elon in Boone, N.C. Fans can follow all the action with live stats, free audio and subscription video via links on the softball schedule page of GoMocs.com.
2012 Southern Conference Softball All-Conference Teams
Pitcher: Stephanie Saylors, College of Charleston
Pitcher: Sarah Purvis, Georgia Southern
Catcher: Vivian Morimoto, Chattanooga
1st Base: Kasey Tydingco, Chattanooga
2nd Base: Sara Poteat, Chattanooga
Shortstop: Megan Rembielak, Appalachian State
3rd Base: Jessie Homesley, Furman
Outfield: Allie Cashion, Appalachian State
Outfield: Marie Fogle, Georgia Southern
Outfield: Erin Foster, Western Carolina
Designated Player: Michelle Fuzzard, Chattanooga
Utility Player: Sarah Warnock, Appalachian State
Pitcher: Hope Klicker, College of Charleston
Pitcher: Taylor Deason, Chattanooga
Catcher: Michelle Lighton, Appalachian State
1st Base: Amanda Lonergan, College of Charleston
2nd Base: Hanna Ennis, Georgia Southern
Shortstop: Jessica Traxler, Chattanooga
3rd Base: Sarah Beth Roberts, Chattanooga
Outfield: Tomeka Watson, Elon
Outfield: Stephanie Rieck, Chattanooga
Outfield: Cheyenne Willis, Chattanooga
Designated Player: Katelyn Bedwell, UNCG
Utility Player: Lauren Collier, Furman
Caroline Rogers, Appalachian State
Sarah Warnock, Appalachian State
Hope Klicker, College of Charleston
Allison Pedigo, College of Charleston
Mackenzie Maples, College of Charleston
Brooke Red, Georgia Southern
Madison Dickey, Samford
Taylor Deason, Chattanooga
Sarah Beth Roberts, Chattanooga
Cheyenne Willis, Chattanooga
Player of the Year
Michelle Fuzzard, Chattanooga
Pitcher of the Year
Sarah Purvis, Georgia Southern
Freshman of the Year
Sarah Warnock, Appalachian State
Coach of the Year
Annie Smith, Georgia Southern