Feb. 24, 2009
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Behind home runs from junior first baseman Tiffany Huff, freshman third baseman Jessica Spigner and freshman designated player Dee Dee Fryer, No. 8 Tennessee (15-1) christened its home season in big style with an 11-1 (5 inn.) rout of Liberty on Tuesday afternoon at the Lee Softball Stadium.
Huff helped lead a 13-hit offensive assault by going 2-for-2 at the dish with a double, home run and five RBIs, upping her season RBI total to a team-high 32. Spigner delivered a 3-for-3 performance with a pair of two-baggers, three RBIs and her squad-best sixth homer of the campaign. Fryer added a pair of hits and her second big fly of the season in two-at bats. Junior second baseman Erinn Webb also knocked in a run via a single during Tennessee's five-run second inning.
In the circle freshman Cat Hosfield improved to a Southeastern Conference-leading 11-1 on the season, working the opening four innings and allowing just one hit, walking one and striking out four. Sophomore Ashton Ward permitted one run on two hits with a K during a single inning of relief.
"Our team came out committed to attacking Liberty from the start," Lady Vol co-head coach Karen Weekly said. "I am very pleased with our approach at the plate and how aggressive our mindset was offensively. Dee Dee Fryer in particular had some really good at-bats. Jessica Spigner picked up right where she left off in California last weekend, and Tiffany Huff continues to provide our team with a lot of leadership while coming up with clutch hits with runners in scoring position. I thought both Cat Hosfield and Ashton Ward improved today pitching-wise."
Liberty left fielder Jenny Law opened the top of the first inning with a single off Tennessee hurler Hosfield. Second baseman J'Nae Jefferson hit into a fielder's choice as freshman shortstop Ashley Andrews nabbed the roller and stepped on second for the opening out. After designated player Ashley Bensinger popped up to second, Liberty first baseman Beth Bennett was intentionally walked, placing two aboard for Kaylee West. The right fielder could only lift a pop-up behind the plate that was squeezed by Lady Vol catcher Jen Lapicki to retire the side.
The Big Orange quickly moved in front in the bottom half of the first with the benefit of a two-out rally. Following a walk issued to Huff, Spigner stepped to the plate and ripped a pitch from LU's Sarah Ellis to the base of the wall in left center for a run-scoring double as UT jumped to the lead, 1-0.
Tennessee blew the contest wide open in the bottom half of the second by plating five runs via six hits and an error. Lapicki led off the frame with single up the middle and advanced to second on a base knock from Fryer. An Andrews line out and a Grieve fielder's choice posted runners at the corners with two retired in the inning. That's when the floodgates opened. A pair of stolen bases led to a run, senior left fielder Lillian Hammond singled to third and Huff followed with a two-bagger down the left field line, pushing the lead to 4-0 Tennessee. Spigner blasted a run-scoring double to right center forcing the first Flame pitching change of the contest. Webb added a RBI single through the right side of the infield off new hurler Brittany Keeney as the advantage swelled to six runs.
With Hosfield retiring the Flames one-two-three in the third, UT added five more tallies to the scoreboard in the bottom half. Fryer christened the frame by blasting a towering shot well past the wall in left and onto the grass hillside beyond for her second homer of the campaign. Andrews singled up the middle, Hammond followed one out later with a base hit through the right side of the infield and Huff delivered yet again with runners on base with a towering three-run homer to right. That forced Liberty head coach Paul Wetmore to make yet another move to his bullpen, bringing in Tiffani Smith in relief. Spigner greeted her rudely with a long home run to left as the lead swelled to 11-0 through three innings.
Having started clearing the bench of substitutes, the 11-run Big Orange lead remained that way until the top of the fifth. Ward entered to close the game out and ran into a little trouble as pinch hitter Cassie Hendrix greeted her with a single through the left side. A sacrifice bunt improved the runner into scoring position with one down. Pinch hitter Jenna Eatmon followed soon afterwards with a base knock up the middle allowing Hendrix to race around and break up the shutout. Ward settled down after that, forcing Law to ground out to short and then striking out Jefferson to end the rout.
No. 8 Tennessee will return to action on Friday, Feb. 27, by serving as host to the second-annual Tennessee Classic at Lee Softball Stadium. UT will open its participation on Friday at 2:30 p.m. against Bowling Green. Live stats will be available through utladyvols.com via Gametracker.