Feb. 5, 2009
ST. GEORGE, Utah - The No. 12 Tennessee Lady Vol softball team (1-0) opened the 2009 campaign by helping co-head coach Karen Weekly reach a coaching milestone with her 600th career victory as the Big Orange routed Northern Colorado, 10-0 (5 inn.), in the opener of the BYU Red Desert Classic in St. George, Utah.
In her initial career start in the circle, freshman right hander Cat Hosfield picked up first collegiate victory, allowing four hits and striking out seven with no walks in a complete-game effort. Offensively, junior first baseman Tiffany Huff delivered a 3-for-4 performance with four RBIs, while sophomore center fielder Kelly Grieve went 3-for-4 with two runs scored and a RBI. Senior left fielder Lillian Hammond also scored twice while tallying a pair of hits including a ground-rule double. Freshman designated player Dee Dee Fryer mashed her first career home run, hitting a ball that traveled so far it short-hopped into a 300-foot fence beyond the playing field in center. Senior right fielder Danielle Pieroni (1-for-2, run) and junior second baseman Erinn Webb (1-for-4) each recorded RBIs.
"We (the team) were all really proud when Tiffany Huff presented Karen with the game ball after posting her 600th career victory," Lady Vol co-head coach Ralph Weekly said. "Northern Colorado had four new junior college transfers and appeared to be stronger than I've ever seen them. I thought we played really well for the first game of the season. We made some mistakes, but that's part of the learning process. Tiffany picked up where she left off last year, while Dee Dee almost cleared a 300-foot fence with her home run. Cat was very precise in her first game. She got ahead in the count on a lot of batters and pitched well."
Tennessee wasted no time in jumping out to an early lead, managing a pair of runs in the top of the first inning of the 2009 season opener. With one retired Hammond slapped a slow bouncer down to third that she successfully beat out for an infield single. After swiping second the Chattanooga, Tenn., native advanced up 60 feet to third on a base knock through the left side of the infield off the bat of Huff. Huff took off for second on a steal attempt, reaching safely, as Northern Colorado second baseman Kara Ryman cut the throw behind the pitching circle and attempted to catch Hammond straying too far off third. The throw to the bag was wide for an error allowing Hammond to cross with UT's initial tally of the contest as Huff safely raced into third. Webb followed with a one-out RBI base knock on a slow roller to second as UT nabbed a 2-0 advantage.
Hosfield retired the first two Bears she faced before designated player Courtney Maihi bounced a ball back up the middle for UNC's initial base hit. Tennessee's hurler immediately ended the frame by coercing a groundout to third from opposing pitcher Hillarie Van Otterloo.
The Lady Vol offense kicked into high-gear in the top of the second, putting four runs on the scoreboard via three hits. Lapicki led off the inning with a walk and advanced into scoring position on a wild pitch. A groundout from Fryer improved the base runner to third, and Pieroni laced a single just past third and down the line to plate Lapicki for a 3-0 advantage. Freshman Ashley Andrews was struck by an inside offering and Grieve followed with an infield single, loading the bags with still just one retired. Freshman Shelby Burchell was summoned off the bench to pinch-hit and came through with a groundout to second to tally her first career RBI. With Tennessee ahead 4-0 and runners occupying second and third, Huff delivered with two outs by blooping a shot just over the second baseman and into short right center to drive in a pair for a six-run lead.
Following a dominating bottom of the second that saw Hosfield strikeout the first two batters of her career, Tennessee got off to a promising start in the third as rookie third baseman Jessica Spigner tallied her initial base knock in the Orange & White with a drive into right center. A Lapicki single and a misplayed fielder's choice for an error by Northern Colorado eventually loaded the bases with one out. On a groundball off the bat of Andrews, Lapicki was cut down at home plate for out number two via a fielder's choice. Grieve delivered another clutch two-out RBI for the Lady Vols as her base hit to third plated Fryer from 60 feet away with UT's seventh score.
After striking out UNC left fielder Nancy Hilbers and right fielder Erin Geddis for two quick outs, Hosfield permitted back-to-back singles. She responded to the brief threat, however, by forcing Maihi to pop out to short ending the third inning.
Tennessee didn't add to its advantage until the top of the fifth when Fryer absolutely crushed a ball to center field. The ball traveled well beyond the 200-foot temporary fence before landing just inches from contacting a 300-foot chain-link barrier on the fly. Grieve delivered yet another single and Hammond followed with a shot down into the left field corner. Under normal circumstances, the UT speedster would have been looking for at least three bases on the hit. There was an area, however, where the temporary fencing failed to contact the permanent fencing. Once her ball traveled through the gap, the umpires ruled the play a ground-rule double and forced Grieve to hold up at third. That permitted Huff a chance to deliver and she came through again with a hit to right center, plating both for a commanding 10-0 advantage.
A lead-off single in the bottom of the fifth by UNC's Jessie Schoepflin got the Bears off to a promising start, but Hosfield wouldn't buckle. Pinch-hitter Kelli Henderson popped out to second and Geddis struck out to push Tennessee within an out of victory. A wild pitch advanced the runner into scoring position, but McNabb bounced out to third as Spigner made the routine play and tossed across the diamond to secure the triumph.
The Lady Vols will return to action at the BYU Red Desert Classic on Friday, February 6, at 12:30 p.m. ET with a match-up against Utah State. Later in the day, the Orange will battle No. 15 Washington in a high-profile contest slated for a 3 p.m. ET first pitch.