April 14, 2009
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - On a chilly Tuesday evening at the Lee Softball Stadium, No. 12 Tennessee (34-9-1) utilized a four-hit shutout from freshman pitcher Cat Hosfield and big RBIs from junior third baseman Nicole Kajitani, junior first baseman Tiffany Huff, sophomore center fielder Kelly Grieve and freshman designated player Jessica Spigner to shutout ETSU (23-19) and push its winning streak over in-state teams to 62.
Kajitani stayed hot at the plate by going 1-for-3 with two runs scored, while contributing a two-run double as part of a three-tally Lady Vol sixth inning. Huff was 1-of-3 and broke her career high for season RBIs by knocking in her 59th run of the year. Grieve went 2-for-3 on the night with a RBI and three stolen bases, improving her season theft total to a team-best 32. Spigner added a RBI on a perfectly executed bunt single as part of a 1-for-3 performance.
Hosfield was solid from the circle, striking out four and allowing just four hits to secure her 17th complete game and fifth shutout of the 2009 campaign.
"I thought our kids competed hard tonight," Lady Vol co-head coach Ralph Weekly said. "ETSU came prepared to try and beat us and played tough the whole game. Cat Hosfield pitched well for us tonight, and Nicole Kajitani and Tiffany Huff came through with huge hits when they counted. I think our kids may have been looking ahead a little to this weekend's conference games. That's the danger of having mid-week contests this time of year."
Hosfield exerted immediate control over the ETSU line-up in the top of the first by retiring shortstop Cheniece Cason, left fielder Kate Powell and center fielder Katy Jett in order.
Christening the bottom of the first, reigning Southeastern Conference Player of the Week Nicole Kajitani blasted a ball to deep right that threatened to go out, but Lady Buc outfielder Vicki McCoy had just enough room to make a tough catch up against the wall.
With UT's hurler dealing from the circle having retired the initial nine Lady Buc batters of the contest, Kajitani granted Tennessee a one-out base runner in the bottom of the third by drawing a walk off ETSU pitcher Marissa Hardy. Grieve dropped a bunt back to the circle that was misplayed for an error as the Lady Vols boasted a pair of base runners. Huff drove a single through the left side of the infield, allowing Kajitani to score from second as UT grabbed a 1-0 lead. With runners occupying the corners, power-hitting freshman designated player Jessica Spigner dropped a surprise bunt out in front of the plate for a single as Grieve scored to make it 2-0.
ETSU's Cason led off the fourth inning by slapping a base hit back through the middle. Powell lifted a fly ball down the left field line that drifted toward the UT bullpen. Newly-inserted left fielder Lillian Hammond raced over from her defensive position and made a terrific running catch before crashing into the wall for a spectacular first out. A fielder's choice that traveled to freshman Ashley Andrews at short off the bat of Jett allowed the lead runner to get cut down at second. A groundout to third from catcher Trisha Massenzo was handled easily by Kajitani as the San Bernardino, Calif., native tossed across the diamond to conclude the frame.
After Tennessee left a runner stranded at second in the bottom of the fourth, ETSU third baseman Amy Campbell opened the Lady Buc half of the fifth with a bloop single into left. A fielding miscue on the Lady Vol infield allowed first baseman Jessie Hackworth the chance to reach safely with still no one out. Designated player Caitlin Zyskowski sacrificed the runners up 60 feet into scoring position. Hosfield responded to the threat by catching pinch hitter Katie Henderson looking at strike three on the corner. Second baseman Chelsea O'Connor bounced routinely to third as Kajitani made another inning-ending play to leave two ETSU runners stranded.
Grieve dropped a perfect bunt single toward first to start the Tennessee half of the fifth. With Huff at the dish, the speedster out of Asheville, N.C., swiped her team-high 31st and 32nd bases of the season to reach third with no outs. Unfortunately, a Huff grounder back to the circle, a Spigner foul out down the left field line and a "K" ended the inning with no scoring.
With Hosfield holding ETSU at zero runs through six frames, Webb led off the bottom of the sixth by drawing a walk. After two were retired, Andrews swung and bounced a ball that died right out in front of the plate for a base knock, placing runners at first and second. That proved to be a huge contribution as far as gaining some scoreboard insurance was concerned as Kajitani followed with a double off the wall in right center, plating two for a 4-0 lead. Following a wild pitch from Hardy, Grieve delivered a swinging bunt up the third base line and beat the throw to first as Kajitani plated UT's fifth tally.
Needing a big rally to get back in the game in the top of the seventh, ETSU's Campbell got the Lady Bucs off to a promising start with a single over third. Hackworth grounded out to short, allowing the runner to advance into scoring position with one retired. That didn't matter, however, as Zyskowski went down swinging and McCoy grounded out to third to complete Tennessee's 5-0 victory.
It's back to conference play this weekend over April 18-19 as No. 12 Tennessee ventures to Oxford, Miss., for a three-game set against the Ole Miss Rebels. First pitch for both Saturday and Sunday is slated for 1 p.m. CT. Live stats will be available through utladyvols.com.