Feb. 6, 2009
ST. GEORGE, Utah - No. 12 Tennessee's (2-0) offense continued its early roll through the BYU Red Desert Classic in St. George, Utah, on Friday morning by banging out 14 hits in an 11-3 (6 inn.) rout of Utah State (0-1).
Junior first baseman Tiffany Huff continued her torrid start to 2009 by posting a 3-for-4, five RBI performance at the plate to up her RBI total to nine through only two games. Sophomore center fielder Kelly Grieve (2-for-3, two runs, RBI, two steals), senior left fielder Lillian Hammond (2-for-4, three runs, RBI, two steals) and freshman shortstop Ashley Andrews each recorded two hits in the match-up. Freshmen Jessica Spigner and Shelby Burchell both tallied their first collegiate homers in the triumph.
Freshman righthander Ashton Ward picked up her first win of the season in her initial start by allowing three runs on eight hits while striking out three in 4.1 innings of work. Junior Danielle Pieroni registered a save after entering the contest in the fifth inning, facing the potential tying run on-deck and firing a perfect 1.2 frames of relief.
Ward opened her 2009 campaign in style by striking out right fielder Nicole Rupp for her initial K of the year. Utah State center fielder Emily Reilly laced a bouncer that traveled just over the left side of the circle before being corralled on the run by Andrews. The Lady Vol rookie made a strong throw but Reilly's slide into first beat the play for a single. Second baseman Jeanine Hernandez advanced the runner into scoring position via a sacrifice bunt. With two retired Aggie first baseman Aubrie Stroman fouled out down the third base line to leave a teammate stranded in scoring position in the top of the first.
Sophomore center fielder Kelly Grieve opened Tennessee's half of the first by drawing a walk off Utah State hurler Lindsey Benson. Hammond worked the count to 2-2 before slapping a short pop that couldn't be corralled on a dive by Hernandez at second. Grieve advanced into third just ahead of a throw and Hammond improved into scoring position. With no one retired Huff dropped a surprise bunt out in front of the plate for an eventual single allowing Grieve to cross easily with the game's first run. The Saugus, Calif., native occupying first took off on a steal attempt of second but was gunned down as Hammond raced across home for a 2-0 advantage. Spigner followed with a clean hard single through the left side of the infield, granting the Big Orange yet another base runner. Unfortunately an infield pop-up and a strikeout ended the frame with no further scoreboard damage.
Trailing by a pair of runs, the Aggies got a threat going in the top of the second as shortstop Kelley Kaneshiro stroked a clean single to left. Left fielder Megan McDonald attempted to sacrifice the runner up 60 feet but her bunt managed to find a hole just past the reach of charging UT first baseman Huff. With two on and no one out, Aggie catcher Simone Hubbard dropped a sac bunt advancing the occupants to second and third. That's when Hammond made a big defensive play, corralling third baseman Rayna Bradshaw's fly ball on the dead run. Kaneshiro started for home on the play but turned in an attempt to get back to third and suffered some sort of leg injury falling in the base path. Hammond tagged third base to record the unassisted double play as Utah State's rally came up empty.
Lapicki christened the top of the second by driving the first offering from Benson into the gap in left center for her first double of the year. Burchell was called on to sacrifice and performed her job perfectly, advancing the runner up 60 feet to third with one down. Andrews battled Utah State's Benson over six pitches before doubling into the gap in left center, plating Lapicki for a 3-0 lead. Grieve immediately followed with a run-scoring three-bagger as her pop dropped in between the shortstop and left fielder before spinning quickly to the left toward the permanent fencing in foul territory. Hammond bounced into a fielder's choice back to the circle as Grieve appeared to slide in under a tag at home plate but was instead called out. A foul pop-up outside of third ended the inning but not before Tennessee had added two more runs via three hits.
After setting down the Aggies one-two-three in the third, Ward got into some trouble in the fourth as Hernandez and Stroman opened the inning with consecutive base knocks. The 6-0 righthander responded by striking out Kaneshiro looking at a tough outside pitch for a big first out. McDonald bounced a 1-2 offering to Andrews that she corralled before tossing to Spigner covering third to nab the lead runner. Needing just one more out to get out of the jam, Hubbard saw a pitch she liked from Ward and pulled a shot over the wall in left for a three-run homer as Utah State cut its deficit to 4-3. Bradshaw followed with a shot to deep center but Grieve managed to make the play to end the frame.
Burchell granted the Big Orange some valuable breathing room with one down in the bottom of the fourth by driving the first pitch she saw from Benson the other way well over the wall in right for her first career collegiate home run and a 5-3 lead. Grieve laced a 3-2 pitch back up the middle and promptly swiped second to reach scoring position with two outs. Hammond also worked the count full before bouncing a tough ball to short. Kaneshiro managed to nab the ball and throw to first, but the play proved too late as Hammond was safe and Grieve demonstrated her staggering speed, racing around from second to plate Tennessee's sixth run. Huff continued the two-out assault with a towering fly to left that turned the fielder a complete 360-degree turn before dropping in near the fence and hopping over the an RBI double as UT nabbed a 7-3 advantage.
Utah State designated player Rachel Evans began the top of the fifth with a liner to short. On the play Andrews raced back and made a leaping back-handed "web gem" to support her hurler with an impressive first out. Rupp singled between third and short and Reilly followed with a clean base knock up the middle, placing two aboard and bringing an end to Ward's day in the circle after 4.1 innings of work. Pieroni entered the contest in relief and immediately coerced out number two by forcing Hernandez to pop-up to short. She quickly got ahead of Stroman 0-2 before getting the batter to pop-up behind home plate. Lapicki drifted back and squeezed the orb near the fence to retire the side.
The top of the sixth went quietly as Pieroni retired Utah State's Kaneshiro, McDonald and Hubbard in order on a groundout and a pair of pop-ups.
That pitching effort set the stage for more offensive fireworks for the Lady Vols in the bottom half of the sixth. Andrews led off with an infield single and then a pair of fielder's choices and a fielding miscue placed two aboard for Huff. The Saugus, Calif., native came through with a three run bomb, well over the wall in left center, to up her RBI total to nine through just two contests. Spigner followed with her first career homer, a solo shot to deep left, as the run-rule took effect with Tennessee taking an 11-3 (6 inn.) victory.
The Lady Vols turn around immediately on Friday afternoon to face No. 15 Washington in a high-profile match-up slated for 3 p.m. ET. For periodic voicemail updates of this weekend's action at the BYU Red Desert Classic call the Lady Vol Hotline at 865-974-8700 and select box #6.