March 3, 2009
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - With temperatures hovering in the 30's and wind chills sitting in the 20's on Tuesday evening at the Lee Softball Stadium, junior catcher Tiffany Huff posted a perfect 4-for-4 day at the plate with two doubles, a triple and four RBIs while junior second baseman Erinn Webb homered and knocked in a pair of runs, leading No. 7 Tennessee (18-1) to its 16th consecutive win in a 7-1 defeat of Boston College.
Huff raised her batting average to a staggering .500 overall (27-of-54) and improved her Southeastern Conference-best RBI total to 40 through just 19 contests. The 2009 campaign has truly been one of a breakout variety for the preseason selection to the USA Softball National Player of the Year Watch List. The Saugus, Calif., native's current total of 40 RBIs nearly equals the 58 and 50 RBIs she tallied during impressive freshman (2007) and sophomore (2008) campaigns, respectively. Last year, Huff earned Louisville Slugger/National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) All-South Region honors.
Senior left fielder Lillian Hammond recorded a 2-for-2 effort at the dish with two runs scored as her average climbed to .468 for the year. Sophomore first baseman Jen Lapicki delivered two hits in four at-bats, and sophomore center fielder Kelly Grieve tallied an RBI as Tennessee banged out 12 hits in the victory.
Freshman right handed pitcher Cat Hosfield took a no-hitter into the fifth before eventually settling for a complete-game, three-hitter with six strikeouts while tallying her league-best 13th win.
"Tiffany Huff is a special player," Lady Vol co-head coach Ralph Weekly said. "She had a fantastic game, going 4-for-4 while driving in four runs. She's doing a great job offensively and behind the plate in mentoring our young pitchers. We were also very impressed with the poise of Cat Hosfield in one of the coldest games we've played in during our tenure at Tennessee. She `weathered' the weather, so to speak, with an awesome effort."
Boston College third baseman Brittany Wilkins started the match-up by drawing a five-pitch walk off Hosfield. Shortstop Irene Delagrammaticas attempted to follow by dropping a sacrifice bunt, but failed as she struck out. Tennessee's 5-9 pitcher settled in from there, eventually striking out the side, as Eagle catcher Amy Tunstall and first baseman Dani Weir both went down swinging.
With one out in the bottom of the first, Hammond launched an offering from BC pitcher Taylor Peyton to the wall in deep left center for a double. Huff followed with a blast that traveled straight into a stiff breeze blowing in from right. Lizzy Ploen turned and watched the ball sail to the wall, eventually hitting about halfway up the fence for a run-scoring triple and a 1-0 UT lead.
Hosfield's "K" count improved to five in the top of the second as Boston College designated player Gemma Ypparilla and second baseman Blair Destito each got caught staring at strike three.
The Lady Vol advantage quickly became two scores starting the bottom half of the second as Webb launched a 3-2 pitch from Peyton the opposite way over the left field wall to record her second homer of the year.
Hammond christened another scoring threat in the bottom of the third by drawing a one-out walk. Huff followed with a double down the left field line, allowing Hammond to slide in safely just under a tag attempt by BC's Wilkins at third. Despite loading the bases with two down, a Lady Vol strikeout ended a promising scoring opportunity with no further scoreboard damage.
The consecutive retired batter streak for Hosfield grew to 12 through the top of the fourth as Delagrammaticas bounced out to short, Tunstall to third and Weir to second, ending a quick one-two-three frame.
Lapicki began the bottom half of the fourth with a sharp single to second. Freshman pinch runner Holly Baker advanced into scoring position on a bloop single into right off the bat of senior Danielle Pieroni. Rookie shortstop Ashley Andrews drew a walk, loading the bases with still no one retired. With the Boston College infield playing in, Grieve bounced to short as Delagrammaticas managed to corral the ball. The BC fielder easily retired the runner at second, but Baker raced home for a 3-0 lead. The bases were re-loaded as Peyton struck Hammond with a pitch, forcing Eagle coach Jennifer Finley to summon in reliever Allison Gage. Huff greeted the new pitcher rudely by blasting a single down the line in left, plating RBIs number 38 and 39 on the season as Tennessee nabbed a 5-0 lead.
Hosfield continued to cruise into the fifth before finally allowing a one-out single to Boston College's Ypparilla, breaking up a potential no-hit bid. A fielder's choice off the bat of Destito and a groundout from center fielder Angela Pandolfo left the runner stranded as the inning came to a close with UT in front, 5-0.
The UT offense added to its advantage in the bottom of the sixth as Hammond started the inning off by beating out an infield single to second base. Huff stepped into the box and hammered a run-scoring double to right center as the gap grew to 6-0. Two batters later, with Huff occupying third, Webb drove a two-bagger over the head of Pandolfo in center and off the wall, plating the runner for a 7-0 advantage.
Following Peyton's two-out double in the top of the seventh, a Big Orange outfield fielding miscue on a single from BC's Ypparilla broke up Hosfield's shutout bid via an unearned run. The Eagles couldn't sustain the rally, however, as Hosfield got Destito to pop out to Webb at second to secure the triumph.
No. 7 Tennessee next ventures to "The Preview" presented by Worth in Norman, Okla., and at the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, Okla. During the challenging event, UT will battle both No. 5 Oklahoma and No. 16 Northwestern twice. Live stats will be available through utladyvols.com via Gametracker.