April 4, 2009
BATON ROUGE, La. - No. 13 Tennessee (29-8, 6-5 SEC) utilized an eight-hit offensive attack and three different pitchers to secure a 7-4 victory in Saturday's finale and complete a doubleheader sweep over No. 17 LSU (22-9, 8-5 SEC) at Tiger Park in Baton Rouge, La.
Junior first baseman Tiffany Huff knocked in three runs as part of a 1-for-3 effort, improving her league-best RBI mark to 56 through 37 games played in 2009. Fellow junior right fielder Erinn Webb went 2-for-3 at the dish with a double, a triple and tallied two runs and a RBI. Sophomore catcher Jen Lapicki recorded a pair of singles in three at-bats with a run scored. Freshman Ashley Andrews registered a run-batted-in via a second inning fielder's choice.
From the circle senior Danielle Pieroni picked up her sixth win of the season, working an inning in relief and allowing one run on two hits with a walk and a "K." Freshman Cat Hosfield got credit for her second save of the campaign by firing three innings of two-hit relief while allowing one unearned tally. Sophomore Ashton Ward started the contest in the circle and permitted two runs on four hits with two strikeouts and two walks in three total frames.
"The opener was a great fastpitch softball game," Lady Vol co-head coach Ralph Weekly said. "Both teams battled hard the entire game, and we were fortunate to come out on top, 2-1. I thought Cat Hosfield threw really well from the circle and am really proud of Lillian Hammond and Kelly Grieve for their clutch seventh inning singles to put us ahead 2-0.
"The second game of the day was a slugfest with both teams exchanging the lead back-and-forth. LSU is definitely a top 15 team, and they battled us to the very end. Tiffany Huff and Erinn Webb came up with big hits in clutch situations. Jen Lapicki also gave us a couple of big hits we needed in the nightcap. Karen (co-head coach Weekly) and I have never been to Tiger Park for a game that wasn't a great match-up. We respect every aspect of the LSU program and know going in that tomorrow will be an extremely tough contest."
After threatening with singles from senior left fielder Lillian Hammond and freshman third baseman Jessica Spigner in the first, the Lady Vol offense broke through on the scoreboard in the second against Tiger pitcher Brittany Mack. Webb led off the inning with a walk and advanced into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt from junior second baseman Nicole Kajitani. Lapicki laced a single into center field, placing UT runners on the corners with still only one retired. Freshman shortstop Ashley Andrews dropped a surprise bunt out in front of the plate and Webb managed to skillfully avoid a tag by the LSU catcher to tally the game's initial run. A wild pitch and a fielder's choice that failed to get Lapicki straying off third loaded the bases. After a Big Orange strikeout, Huff battled to draw a bases loaded walk, scoring the runner and granting the Saugus, Calif., native her team-best 54th RBI of the campaign. A groundout to third from Spigner finally ended the inning but not before UT had nabbed a 2-0 advantage.
With one out in the bottom of the second, Ward ran into her first trouble of the contest by allowing base hits to Ashley Langoni and Anissa Young. With Morgan Russell at the plate, UT's 6-0 right hander uncorked a wild pitch in the dirt that advanced the duo up 60 feet to second and third. Russell bounced to third as Spigner made the grab, checked the runner behind her and threw across to first for retirement number two. Ward struck out Jessica Mouse to end the threat as Tennessee maintained its 2-0 lead.
A lead-off double by LSU's Kirsten Shortridge and a walk issued to Jazz Jackson starting the bottom of the third ended the afternoon in the circle for Ward as senior Danielle Pieroni entered the contest in relief facing a two-on, no-out situation. The Madison, Tenn., native immediately fell behind Juliana Santos, 3-1, before allowing an RBI single back through the middle, plating Shortridge and cutting UT's advantage to a single run. Rachel Mitchell grounded out routinely to second as the base runners moved up at second and third with one out. Pieroni came up with a huge swinging strikeout of Langoni on a change-up to get closer to escaping the jam. Unfortunately for the Big Orange, Ashley Applegate singled just past a diving Kajitani and through the right side of the infield as two runs scored, giving LSU its first lead of the entire doubleheader at 3-2. An illegal pitch from Pieroni and a walk to Young kept the Tigers in business with a pair on base and two outs as Russell stepped into the batter's box. She lifted a ball to right, but Webb drifted over near the line to make the inning-ending grab.
Suddenly trailing for the first time in Saturday's doubleheader, Tennessee tried to get something started in the top of the fourth as Andrews drew a lead-off walk. That brought an end to the day for LSU's Mack as Shortridge moved from center field to the pitching circle in relief. Hammond slapped a ball back to the circle that the pitcher corralled, but her throw to first was high for an error as UT boasted two runners on base with no outs. Following a Lady Vol "K," Huff ripped a single through the right side of the infield, scoring Andrews from second to tie the score at 3-3. With Burchell at the plate, Huff swiped second and then LSU's Shortridge uncorked a wild pitch to the backstop, scoring Hammond for a 4-3 Lady Vol advantage. A strikeout ended the frame with Huff on third, but UT had re-taken the advantage with two runs via a walk, a hit and an error.
Ward re-entered the match-up starting the bottom of the fourth and, despite allowing a one-out single to Shortridge, retired the Tigers on a pair of ground balls and a fly out to mid-center.
In the top of the fifth, Webb christened the frame by driving a 3-2 pitch from Shortridge over right fielder Rachel Mitchell's head and off the wall for a double. Kajitani dropped a slow bouncer toward first that was picked up by Anissa Young. The fielder turned and threw low to first for an error as Webb plated UT's fifth run of the contest. Lapicki grounded routinely to short, but Santos' throw attempting to get the lead runner at second was wide of the bag for the second LSU miscue of the frame. With runners at the corners and still none down, a grounder from Andrews also moved Lapicki into scoring position. Unfortunately, Tennessee could not add to its lead as a strikeout and a bouncer to third ended the inning with no further damage.
Hosfield opened the bottom of the fifth in relief of Pieroni and quickly fell behind Mitchell 3-0 before rallying to a full count. The Tiger hitter fouled off three straight offerings before grounding straight back to the circle as Hosfield leapt to snag the ball and tossed on to first. Kajitani retired Langoni on a running catch in foul ground behind the first base bag, and UT's rookie pitcher handled a bouncer back to the circle from Applegate as the Tigers went down quietly in the frame.
Another Tiger miscue, the fourth of the game for LSU, opened the door for more Lady Vol scoring in the top of the sixth. Spigner reached on a miscue on a ground ball by third baseman Jessica Mouse with one down. Webb cashed her in with a triple off the wall in right center as sophomore pinch runner Natalee Weissinger raced across the dish, making it 6-3.
Lapicki singled and Andrews reached on a fielder's choice opening the seventh. Casey Faile was brought into the contest in relief for the Bayou Bengals, and she struck Hammond on the helmet with her second pitch, loading the bases with no outs. After a pop out on the infield from sophomore center fielder Kelly Grieve, Huff drew a bases loaded walk to force in sophomore pinch runner Amanda Poppleton from third for a 7-3 Lady Vol lead.
With one final chance in the bottom of the seventh, Shortridge got LSU off to a promising start by singling deep into the hole at short. Another infield base knock, this one from Jackson, and a throwing error attempting to get the lead runner set the Tigers up with runners at the corners and no one retired. Santos hit into a fielder's choice that Andrews handled before stepping on the second base bag for the out. Shortridge scored from third on the play as LSU's deficit was cut to 7-4. Hosfield handled a bouncer back to the circle and cut down the runner at second, getting UT within an out of a sweep. An infield error on a ground ball allowed Langoni to reach safely, bringing the potential tying run to the plate in the form of Applegate. She lined sharply to short as Andrews made a diving grab to complete the doubleheader sweep.
No. 13 Tennessee wraps up its three-game series against No. 17 LSU at 1 p.m. CT on Sunday. The Sports Animal (99.1, 99.3 FM, 990 AM) is on site to radio broadcast the entire three-game set with "The Voice of the Lady Vols" Mickey Dearstone calling the action. Sunday's series finale will be disseminated live via FOX Sports South as part of the SEC-TV package. Live stats will be available through utladyvols.com.