Feb. 7, 2009
ST. GEORGE, Utah - In the largest offensive explosion since putting 20 runs up on the scoreboard versus UMass back on March 12, 2006, the No. 12 Tennessee Lady Vol softball team (3-1) pounded out 15 hits to back a combined no-hitter on Saturday as the Big Orange hammered San Jose State, 16-0 (5 inn.), at the BYU Red Desert Classic in St. George, Utah.
Freshman third baseman Jessica Spigner helped guide the way offensively by tallying a 3-for-3 day at the plate with two home runs (two-run and three-run) and six RBIs. The Santa Clarita, Calif., native is hitting .500 (6-of-12) on the year with a squad-best three home runs and seven RBIs. Junior catcher Tiffany Huff continued her amazing early-season production by tallying a career-high six RBIs as part of a 3-for-4 effort with a three-run home run, raising her season totals to .600 (9-of-15) overall with two doubles, two HR's and 15 RBIs over just four contests. Freshman designated player Dee Dee Fryer knocked in a pair of runs on a base hit, while sophomore center fielder Kelly Grieve got things started at the top of the order with a 2-for-3, three-run scored performance. Rookie right fielder Shelby Burchell also recorded the first two doubles of her career in the Orange & White while scoring twice and posting an RBI.
From the circle the Lady Vols were just as dominant behind the efforts of freshman Cat Hosfield and sophomore Ashton Ward. Hosfield picked up the win after starting the contest and tossing three no-hit frames with a pair of walks and four strikeouts. Ward entered in relief starting the fourth and completed the combined no-hitter with two innings of perfect ball and two K's.
Hosfield started the contest out in dominant fashion in the top of the first by punching out San Jose State center fielder Sarah Taylor and second baseman Kelli Fangonilo both looking at strike three. The 5-9 right hander coerced a bouncer to short off the bat of SJSU's Kayla Hayes that UT freshman Ashley Andrews corralled and tossed on to first in time to record the third out.
Grieve christened the bottom half of the first by reaching on a sharp single to third base. Senior left fielder Lillian Hammond worked the count to 2-2 against San Jose State hurler Deanna Mauer before being struck in the foot by a pitch, placing a pair aboard with no outs. That brought up Tennessee's offensive star at the BYU Red Desert Classic in the form of Huff. The Saugus, Calif., native continued her staggering early-season production by blasting her second home run of the weekend, this one a three-run bomb to right, to up her then-season RBI total to 12 through four games and grant UT a 3-0 lead. Spigner kept the assault going by drawing a free pass. Junior second baseman Erinn Webb dropped a perfect sacrifice bunt out in front of the plate to advance freshman pinch runner Amanda Poppleton into scoring position. The move paid dividends as Burchell followed by taking a Mauer pitch the other way down the right field line into the corner for a run-scoring double granting UT a 4-0 advantage. After a Lady Vol K, sophomore first baseman Jen Lapicki followed with a sharp groundball that traveled right through the legs of SJSU shortstop Julianne Aiello for an error as Burchell came around the plate the Big Orange's fifth run of the initial inning. A strikeout ended the onslaught but not before all nine Tennessee batters came to the plate in the frame.
Spartan catcher Brittany McConnell opened the second by drawing a four-pitch walk off Hosfield. The UT hurler settled down, however, inducing a harmless fly to center before punching out first baseman Natasha Hawkins for two outs. Third baseman Liz Robertson dropped a slow roller to short as Andrews made the routine play and another strong throw to first, leaving the SJSU runner stranded.
Tennessee added to its advantage with two retired in the bottom of the second as Huff christened another rally with a single deep in the hole between first and second base. Spigner stepped into the batter's box and rocked a 2-0 pitch deep to center for her second collegiate homer, granting the Orange & White a seven-run lead. Webb hustled down the line to beat out a bouncer towards short to extend the inning. Burchell added a two-bagger to the base of the temporary fence in left placing runners at second and third. Fryer added even more to the scoreboard with a sharp single through the left side of the infield allowing sophomore pinch runner Natalee Weissinger and Burchell to race home with UT's eighth and ninth tallies of the contest. A fielder's choice finally completed the inning after the Lady Vols had sent eight more hitters to the plate.
With Hosfield no-hitting the Spartans through three frames, a pair of miscues on San Jose State opened the door for more UT scoring the bottom of the third. Grieve laced a single to third, but Robertson's throw to first was wide allowing the speedy sophomore to race all the way around to third. Sophomore outfielder Nicole Kajitani bounced to second where Fangonito managed to corral the orb. The fielder checked the runner at third, turned and threw the ball over the first baseman's head for an error as Kajitani ended up occupying second. Huff tallied yet another RBI by bouncing out to shortstop for the second retirement of the inning. Spigner ripped an RBI base knock through the left side of the infield as Kajitani plated Tennessee's 11th run. Weissinger followed with her first hit of the 2009 season placing runners at first and second with two outs. Pieroni flied out to left for out number three as the Lady Vols sent seven runners to the dish in the third while plating a pair of scores.
Up by 11 tallies through three frames, the Weeklys made the move to summon in Ward in relief starting the fourth. The Charlotte, N.C., native announced her presence with authority with consecutive strikeouts. The 6-0 left hander also took care of a bouncer back to the circle off the bat of designated player Ursula Lopez to end the dominant effort.
Freshman pinch hitter Holly Baker got an opportunity to get her first collegiate at-bat with one down in the bottom of the fourth and took advantage, ripping a pitch into right field for a single. Following a fielder's choice for the second out, Grieve walked to put a pair of base runners aboard for Kajitani. She followed with a clean base knock to deep short to pack the bags. Huff stepped in with yet another RBI opportunity and blasted the first pitch she saw to deep left and over the wall on the bounce for a ground-rule double, plating two more and granting her an amazing 15 RBIs through only four games and six in the game versus San Jose State. Spigner stepped into the box and added hers to a list of outstanding names with two HR's in a single contest in Lady Vol lore, such as former All-American Tonya Callahan, by blasting her second homer of the contest over the wall in center. The three-run shot improved the score to a staggering 16-0 and also gave Spigner six RBIs in the match-up.
Ward wrapped up the combined no-hitter by inducing three consecutive groundouts from Mallory Bair, Robertson and Aiello in the top of the fifth.
The Lady Vols complete their stay at the BYU Red Desert Classic on Saturday at approximately 3:30 p.m. ET against BYU. For periodic voicemail updates of this weekend's action call the Lady Vol Hotline at 865-974-8700 and select box #6.