March 6, 2009
NORMAN, Okla. - On a blustery night at the OU Softball Complex in Norman, Okla., with winds gusting out to center field at up to 22 mph, No. 7 Tennessee (19-1) got off to a terrific start in "The Preview" presented by WORTH with a 4-1 victory over No. 5 Oklahoma (16-4). UT's triumph ended the Sooners' 18-game home win streak, dating back to the 2008 season.
Freshman third baseman Jessica Spigner blasted her team-best seventh homer of the season as part of a 2-for-3 effort at the plate, while junior second baseman Erinn Webb (1-for-4) added a clutch three-run triple in the fifth, granting UT a vital 4-0 advantage. Junior catcher Tiffany Huff and sophomore center fielder Kelly Grieve each added two of Tennessee's nine total hits in the contest.
Rookie hurler Cat Hosfield picked up her Southeastern Conference-best 14th win, allowing just one run on four hits with six strikeouts in a complete game against the powerful Sooner line-up.
"This was a real battle," Lady Vol co-head coach Ralph Weekly said. "Oklahoma is a storied program with great coaching and great players. We were fortunate to prevail tonight. Tomorrow's another day. Cat Hosfield was great for us in a tough, hostile environment and deserves tons of credit. Jessica Spigner's seventh HR got things going for us, and Erinn Webb was critical in the clutch with her three-run triple. Ashley Andrews' over-the-shoulder catch in the seventh was all-world. Now we'll get some rest as we will face two tough teams tomorrow at the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City."
After two quick outs to open the contest, Huff christened a two-out scoring chance in the top of the first by battling OU hurler Kirsten Allen over nine pitches before bouncing a clean single up the middle. Spigner followed with a base knock into right field as UT found itself with a pair on the base paths. Webb stepped into the batter's box and got ahead in the count 2-1 before bouncing routinely to Sooner second baseman Evan Sallis for the third out.
Hosfield started the bottom half of the first by forcing the slap-hitting Sallis to ground sharply to short. UT's Ashley Andrews came up with the ball and threw out the speedy runner at the bag for the opening retirement. Batting to a full count, shortstop Amber Flores managed a walk to grant the Sooners a base occupant with the meat of the order coming up. First baseman Samantha Ricketts was retired on a routine ground ball to Webb at second as the runner moved into scoring position with two down. Hosfield raced in front of OU catcher Lindsey Vandever 0-2 in the count before throwing a ball low. A perfect pitch on the inside corner to the right-handed hitter was called strike three as both teams left at least one runner stranded in the first.
Freshman Shelby Burchell began the top of the second by driving a pitch the other way down the first base line for a lead-off single. Following a fielder's choice off the bat of freshman designated player Dee Dee Fryer, sophomore first baseman Jen Lapicki came through with a high-bouncing single back up the middle, again placing two on the bags for the Lady Vols. A pick-off throw behind the runner at second from OU's Vandever caught Fryer straying too far off the base as she was tagged for a vital second out. Allen handled a high bouncer from Andrews back to the circle, throwing her out by a step at first as the Tennessee's left-on-base total climbed to three through two innings.
The fireworks continued into the bottom of the second as Oklahoma right fielder Katie Norris drove Hosfield's initial pitch of the frame into left center for a lead-off single. Left fielder Haley Anderson fouled off two pitches, while attempting to drop a sacrifice bunt, before eventually flying out harmlessly to senior Lillian Hammond in left. Hosfield struck out designated player Wendy Trott swinging for the second out, but then hit third baseman Dani Dobbs with a pitch, placing a pair on the base paths. Facing a big opportunity, OU center fielder Krystle Huey slapped a ball to third that Spigner leapt to corral. The Santa Clarita, Calif., native threw on the first for the out as the Sooners also left a pair aboard.
Flores was hit by a pitch with one out in the bottom of the third setting the stage for a little defensive gem from the Big Orange. Ricketts blasted a shot to the wall in right center for a double. Burchell raced over to cut the ball off just before the wall, turned and hit the cut-off in the form of Webb. The Hemet, Calif., native turned and fired a strike to the plate as Huff made the catch and dove to her left to tag Flores, keeping the contest scoreless. Vandever singled sharply to third with two down, placing runners at the corners. The decision was made to walk Norris to load the bases and set up the force at every base. Hosfield quickly fell behind the hitter 2-0 before rebounding under pressure to strikeout Anderson and leave the bags packed full of Sooners.
Having come close to jumping in front on the scoreboard through the first three frames, UT's Spigner used the long ball to break the scoreless deadlock opening the top of the fourth. She blasted her team-best seventh homer of the season well over the wall in center, beyond several rows of bleachers and even over a secondary fence for a 1-0 lead. Despite Webb reaching on a one-out error at short by OU's Flores, a pair of groundouts from the Orange & White only advanced the runner into scoring position before the inning concluded.
Oklahoma's Trott christened the bottom of the fourth with a walk. Dobbs attempted to advance pinch runner D.J. Mathis to second by sacrifice bunt, but failed by fouling off the first two pitches and then swinging and missing at strike three. A fielder's choice and then a stolen base saw Huey slide into second with two down, but Andrews corralled a Sallis ground ball. She nailed the speedster by a step at first to leave yet another OU runner stranded.
Andrews followed her solid defensive play by drawing a walk to open the fifth. Grieve reached on a bunt single while attempting to sacrifice the runner up 60 feet. Hammond's sac bunt attempt never got away from the plate as Vandever leapt out, nabbed the ball and cut down the lead runner at third. Huff followed with a single up the middle, bringing Grieve around quickly from second. OU's Huey came up throwing to the plate, and Grieve appeared to have slid in safely under Vandever's tag. The home plate umpire ruled differently, however, saying she missed the dish on her slide as the Sooner catcher ran over and tagged Grieve standing 10 feet from the plate. Spigner was intentionally walked to load the bases for Webb. That move definitely proved to be the wrong one for Oklahoma and head coach Patty Gasso as Webb ripped a ball into the right center field gap for her eighth career triple. That brought Hammond, Huff and Spigner around to score for a huge 4-0 lead. A K ended the inning but not before Tennessee had strung together a walk and four hits to plate three tallies.
Suddenly facing a large deficit on the scoreboard venturing to the bottom of the fifth, OU's slugger Flores launched a Hosfield pitch to deep left for a solo homer as the Sooners clawed back within 4-1. Ricketts and Vandever managed to get a lot of bat on the ball but their long fly balls traveled right into the gloves of Grieve and Hammond, respectively. A blooper from Norris was caught on the run by Grieve in short center as the Sooners could climb no closer.
Hosfield roared through the Sooner line-up in the sixth, forcing groundouts from Anderson and pinch hitter Chana'e Jones and inducing a fly to left from designated player Trott.
Looking for some insurance in the top of the seventh, Grieve bounced a slow roller to short that she easily beat out for a lead-off single. Hammond dropped a ball toward short that Flores scooped on the run before flipping the orb straight from her glove to Sallis covering second, retiring the lead runner. Hammond swiped second and advanced to third on Flores' throwing error on a Huff grounder. With runners at the corners and one retired in the frame, Spigner grounded out to third for the second out. Webb laced a sharp shot down the first base line, but Ricketts nabbed it on a dive before tagging the base to end the frame.
Hosfield gave up a walk to Huey to open the bottom of the seventh. Pinch hitter Karolyne Long blooped a threatening offering into short center that Andrews corralled on an over-the-shoulder catch. Huey strayed too far off first as Andrews threw behind the runner for a crucial double play. That took the steam out of any potential Oklahoma rally as Flores went down swinging on three pitches as Hosfield secured her league-best 14th win.
No. 7 Tennessee will continue "The Preview" presented by WORTH on Sat., March 7th, starting with an 11 a.m. CT match-up against Northwestern at the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium In Oklahoma City, Okla. Live stats will be available through utladyvols.com via Gametracker.