Feb. 26, 2009
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - For the second consecutive season No. 8 Tennessee (15-1) will serve as host of the Tennessee Classic at Lee Softball Stadium. Seven teams including #16 North Carolina, Marshall, Winthrop, James Madison, Bowling Green, Jacksonville State and North Dakota State will make the trip to Knoxville for the three-day event.
North Dakota State and Bowling Green will kick-off the tournament on Friday, February 27th, at 10 a.m. ET. UT will open its participation later that afternoon (2:30 p.m. ET) against Bowling Green.
With the potential for inclement weather currently existing in the weekend Knoxville forecast, please check into www.utladyvols.com for updates on any event delays or cancellations.
The Lady Vols enter this weekend's tournament with a 13-game winning streak in tow having raced through the prestigious Cathedral City Classic (Feb. 19-21) at a perfect 5-0 and then routing Liberty (11-1, 5 inn.) in UT's home opener on Tuesday at the Lee Softball Stadium. Against the Flames the Big Orange bashed three home runs while recording a 13-hit offensive attack. Freshman third baseman Jessica Spigner blasted her team-high sixth homer of the year as part of a 3-for-3 effort at the plate with three RBIs. Junior catcher/first baseman Tiffany Huff continued her staggering early-season production by posting a 2-for-2 day at the plate with a HR, three runs scored and five RBIs, raising her squad-best season RBI total to 32. Reigning Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week Cat Hosfield picked up her league-leading 11th victory from the circle by firing four innings of one-hit ball with four strikeouts.
North Carolina, under the direction of 24th year head coach Donna J. Papa, enters the Tennessee Classic rated No. 16 in both national softball polls with victories over Kansas, Oregon, Oregon State and then-No. 9 California on its resume. With an experienced squad boasting six seniors on the roster, the Tarheels have tallied a 14-3 overall record. The offense hits at a .281 clip as a team, plating just over four runs per contest. Junior pitcher Danielle Spaulding guides the attack with a .400 batting average and a team-best 15 RBIs. Junior Christine Knauer (.368) and senior Breanna Brown (.345) each hit at over a .300 clip with Brown possessing 13 RBIs. The major strength of the team appears to be from the circle as senior Lisa Norris (1.79 ERA, 5-2 record, 62 K's) and Spaulding (0.38 ERA, 6-1 record, 98 K's) guide a three-member staff that owns a 1.37 ERA, 171 strikeouts and has allowed just 24 total runs in 112 innings. Several members of the UT squad have previously faced both pitchers, back during the 2007 campaign. Tennessee downed Norris and UNC by a 2-1 score over eight innings in Chapel Hill, N.C., and bested Spaulding and the `Heels, 2-0, during NCAA Regional play at Tyson Park.
Bowling Green has tallied a 3-2 record having played alongside Tennessee at the UCF Early Bird Tournament over Feb. 13-15. The Falcons downed common UT opponents North Florida (1-0) and UT-Arlington (3-2), picked up a win versus Bradley (8-6) and dropped contests to Kansas (0-9, 5 inn.) and South Carolina (0-5). BGSU enters play with a .239 team average and a 3.28 team ERA. Freshman Rachel Proehl guides the offense at .353 overall while, from the circle, Hayley Weimer has a 2-2 mark with a 1.75 ERA. The senior pitcher was recently selected as the Mid-American Conference East Division Pitcher of the Week for her efforts in Orlando, Fla.
In possession of a 10-3 record and riding high with a nine-game winning streak, James Madison arrives in Knoxville hitting .267 overall. Senior third baseman Amber Kirk is currently at .439 with two homers and a team-best 12 RBIs. From the circle the Dukes have limited opponents to just a .216 average while posting a 1.81 ERA. Seniors Jenny Clohan (7-1, 1.60 ERA) and Meredith Felts (3-1, 1.11 ERA) have tossed 43.2 and 38 innings, respectively, with seven combined complete games and four solo shutouts.
North Dakota State has tallied a .293 team mark while recording a 7-3 record to begin the `09 season. The Bison have plated 55 runs over 10 games, but have also allowed 46 as its three-member pitching staff has combined for a 4.70 ERA. Senior Andi Padilla has seen the most work from the circle, firing 31.2 innings while registering a 5-1 record and a 3.32 ERA. Sophomore outfielder Elise Victa maintains a squad-high .412 average while junior Melissa Chmielewski (.250) heads the roster in homers (two) and RBIs (nine).
Marshall visits the Tennessee Classic with a 7-6 record, having been battle-tested in `09 match-ups against teams including nationally-ranked Arizona and Georgia. Sophomore Melanie Stoehr has been an offensive force, posting a .481 (13-of-27) mark with two doubles, two homers and nine RBIs. Junior Caitlyn Jackson (.390) and freshman Jessica Hughes (.385) round out a trio currently hitting over .380. The Thundering Herd has struggled from the circle, however, combining for a 4.23 team ERA while allowing 4.5 runs per game. Junior Katie Murphree has tossed the most innings (35.1), registering a 3-2 record and a 2.77 ERA. Senior Autumn Mitchell possesses a 5.60 ERA and a 1-1 mark in 30 frames of work.
The No. 8 Lady Vols open their stay at the Tennessee Classic against Bowling Green on Friday, February 27th, at 2:30 p.m. ET. Live stats will be available via Gametracker for all games held at Lee Softball Stadium.