Tiffany Huff (52)
May 26, 2007
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - No. 1 Tennessee (58-6) dug itself a 9-2 hole through six frames before trying to claw out with four runs in the top of the seventh as the Lady Vols suffered a 9-6 defeat to the No. 12 Hawai'i Rainbow Wahine (50-12) to force a deciding game in the best-of-three NCAA Knoxville Super Regional at Tyson Park.
Orange & White freshman first baseman Tiffany Huff (3-of-4, run) and junior third baseman Tonya Callahan (1-of-4, run) each knocked in a pair of tallies in the defeat to guide the offense. Junior second baseman Kenora Posey recorded two of Tennessee's 10 total base knocks.
Senior pitcher Monica Abbott started the game was no-decisioned after allowing two earned runs on two hits over just one-third of an inning with a K. Junior hurler Megan Rhodes took the loss in relief by allowing seven earned runs on nine hits with nine strikeouts in 5.2 frames.
With one down in the top of the first, the game took on a déjà vu feel as much like last night, sophomore left fielder Lillian Hammond again battled through a long at-bat before reaching safely via infield single. The Chattanooga, Tenn., native swiped her 14th base of the season to reach scoring position. Huff dropped a slow rolling base hit through the right side of the infield that charging Hawai'i right fielder Tanisha Milca fielded cleanly. Hammond rounded third and was sent to the plate, but Milca's throw was in plenty of time to cut down the runner at the dish for the second out. Callahan ripped a liner, but right back to pitcher Kate Robinson in the circle who made the grab for the Rainbow Wahine to retire the side with no damage.
It was an auspicious beginning to the bottom half of the first as Abbott's first offering drifted too far inside and struck Milca on the shoulder to bestow UH an immediate base runner. Third baseman Clare Warwick dropped a perfect bunt toward second that caught UT's defense out of position. Posey corralled the sphere but couldn't beat the runner to the bag as the Rainbow Wahine posted two on the base paths with no one down. Center fielder Kaulana Gould went down swinging for the first out, but the ball got away from Doepking behind the plate for a passed ball allowing the on-base duo to advance to second and third. Following an intentional walk issued to power-hitting first baseman Tyleen Tausaga to set up the force at every base, the dangerous Robinson stepped to the dish with her team-high 18 HR's on the campaign. The duo battled to a full count and Robinson fouled off three pitches before ripping a single through the right side of the infield to bring home a pair for a 2-0 lead. With UH runners occupying first and third and just one down, co-head coaches Ralph and Karen Weekly made the decision to remove Abbott and rest her in case a deciding game would be required later on Saturday as Rhodes entered in relief. The Nashville, Tenn., native immediately settled things down by inducing routine pop-ups from left fielder Brandi Peiler and shortstop Valana Manuma to strand two Rainbow Wahine runners.
The second inning went quietly as both teams were retired one-two-three. Rhodes was especially dominant for the Big Orange by striking out second baseman Alana Power, catcher Kathryn Grimes and Milca in order.
Posey attempted to get something started with one out in the third by slapping a high chopper over first base and down the line for a single. That brought the top of the order up for the Lady Vols with senior center fielder Lindsay Schutzler stepping into the batter's box. With a 2-0 count at the plate, Posey took off for second and dealt with a violent collision with V. Manuma at the bag to steal her 25th base in 28 attempts on the campaign. UT's Schutzler drew a free pass to join Posey on the base paths with one retired. Hammond made contact but popped out to short for the first out. Huff grounded a ball to deep short that was deep enough for a base knock to load the bags for the powerful Callahan. The Holden, Mo., product bounced a tough hopper to short that V. Manuma charged on the run. With the always-hustling Callahan sliding into first in an attempt to beat the throw to the bag and extend the threat, V. Manuma's throw drifted wide of the base for a crucial error allowing Posey and Schutzler to score unearned and tie the game at 2-2. Doepking ended the third by grounding out sharply to short, but not before UT dead-locked the match-up with two runs on two hits, a walk and a Hawai'i throwing miscue.
Rhodes had retired eight straight hitters entering the bottom of the fourth before Robinson made the UT pitcher pay for a mistake by driving a long solo home run over the wall in left for a 3-2 advantage. Playing with the lead once again, Hawai'i continued to hit the ball well as new shortstop Julie Franklin doubled to left center and was cashed in on a two-run blast to left center by Power to make it 5-2. Rhodes settled down to punch out Grimes to record her seventh K, but then hit Milca on the knee with a 1-0 pitch to grant the Rainbow Wahine a two-out base runner. Warwick popped out to first baseman Huff to end the assault but not before UH added three tallies on a pair of HR's.
For the third time in the contest, Hawai'i recorded a base runner to open an inning as Gould singled past Posey at second to open the bottom of the fifth. A wild pitch from Rhodes advanced Gould into scoring position at second, and Tausaga joined her on the base paths with no outs after drawing a free pass. Having homered in her last at-bat, Robinson stepped in against Rhodes, but this time popped up harmlessly to second for the first retirement. A wild pitch allowed both runners the opportunity to advance 60 feet with Peiler at the dish. Following an amazing change-up from Rhodes to punch out Peiler, Franklin struck again by blasting a three-run home run to right center for an 8-2 lead. Power continued the hit parade with a single up the middle that nearly collided with Rhodes' right leg in the circle before continuing into center field. Grimes went down swinging to conclude the frame as UH added three more scores on the round-tripper.
The advantage grew to seven runs in the bottom of the sixth as three consecutive one-out singles from the Rainbow Wahine, including a RBI-shot down the left field line by Tausaga, improved the score to 9-2. Robinson was hit by a pitch to load the bases, but Peiler hit into a fielder's choice to cut down a runner at the plate for out number two. Another fielder's choice recorded on a stellar play by Horiuchi on a ground ball behind the bag at second concluded the frame and left three UH runners stranded.
After displaying her impressive fielding prowess at short to end the sixth, Horiuchi got the job done with the bat in the top of the seventh by opening UT's last chance in regulation with a double to the wall in right. Posey slapped a high bouncer to the right side of the circle for an infield single to place runners at the corners with no one out. Schutzler lined a hard lazer but Power made a great diving play at second to retire the senior from Monterey, Calif. Hammond K'ed for the second out, but Huff extended the match-up with a bloop single to left center to plate two and cut the deficit to 9-4. With Huff residing at second base, Callahan blasted her 11th home run of the campaign over the wall in left center to make it 9-6. Doepking continued the offensive threat by taking a pitch the other way down the right field line into the corner for a two-bagger. That brought an end to the pitching day for Robinson just 0.1 frames from the complete game effort as Courtney Baughman came in to attempt to close out the contest. Freshman designated player Alexia Clay hit the ball solidly but right to left field to complete Hawai'i's 9-6 triumph.
|Knoxville Super Regional Schedule|
|Friday, May 25|
|8 p.m.||Hawaii vs. Tennessee||W, 9-0 (5 inn.)||ESPNU|
|Saturday, May 26|
|4 p.m.||Tennessee vs. Hawaii||L, 6-9||ESPNU|
|6:30 p.m.||Hawaii vs. Tennessee||ESPNU|