Junior Kelly Grieve
Feb. 26, 2010
By Brian Davis, Assistant Media Relations Director
CATHEDRAL CITY, Calif. - In a game more suited to the postseason than the early season, No. 21 Tennessee (6-4) rallied from a 6-1 fourth-inning deficit to briefly take a one-run lead before eventually succumbing to No. 10 Stanford (9-1), 8-7, on a crisp and clear Thursday night at the Cathedral City Classic in Cathedral City, Calif.
Senior second baseman Nicole Kajitani led the 11-hit offensive attack by going 2-for-4 with a triple and two clutch RBIs that briefly granted UT the advantage in the fifth inning, 7-6. Sophomore shortstop Ashley Andrews bashed her team-best third home run as part of a 1-for-3, two RBI effort, while junior center fielder Kelly Grieve hammered her first collegiate HR deep over the center field wall. Sophomore third baseman Jessica Spigner was 2-for-4 and senior catcher Tiffany Huff 1-for-3 while each posted an RBI. Freshman left fielder Raven Chavanne (2-for-4, run scored) tallied at least two hits in a game for the seventh consecutive contest and continued her impressive week-long road trip, now boasting a batting average of .750 on 21-of-28 at the plate.
Freshman pitcher Ivy Renfroe took her first career loss, falling to 3-1 after allowing six earned runs on seven hits with six walks and a K in 5.1 innings of work.
The dangerous Stanford line-up wasted little time getting going in the top of the first. Lead-off hitter Alissa Haber beat out a bunt single, advanced to second on a wild pitch and quickly scored on a double into the gap from second baseman Ashley Hansen, making it 1-0 Cardinal. Renfroe rebounded from the tough start to retire the next three batters in order by flyout to left, bunt back to the circle and high chopper to short to keep the damage to a minimum. On the inning-ending bouncer, Andrews raced from her position at short in front of the second base bag, made the grab on the run and just gunned down right fielder Maya Burns at first.
For the sixth time in the last seven match-ups Chavanne opened the Lady Vol first inning with a single, this one on a high chopper over third base and into left field. With one retired Chavanne took off for second, successfully swiping her fourth base of the campaign. Dotson stepped into the batter's box and blooped a single into center on a 2-2 offering from Stanford pitcher Teagan Gerhart as Chavanne advanced up 60 feet to third. Dotson swiped her third base of 2010 to join the lead runner in scoring position. Neither crossed the plate, however, as a pair of Lady Vol strikeouts concluded the Tennessee inning.
Renfroe worked through a quick one-two-three top of the second to bring the Big Orange offense back to the plate. Senior first baseman Erinn Webb nearly tied things up, just missing the first pitch she received from Gerhart in the second. The Hemet, Calif., product's towering fly ball was caught at the base of the temporary fencing in left center.
Center fielder and no. 9 hitter Sarah Hassman coerced a free pass leading off the top of the third as the Cardinal brought up the top of their batting order. Haber immediately cashed in the walk on a long two-run homer to right as Stanford improved its lead to 3-0. Hansen continued the power display by making it back-to-back big flies for SU with a solo shot to right center. That proved the end of the road for Renfroe, at least for a while, as Hosfield was summoned into the contest in relief. With still none out the Murfreesboro, Tenn., native was greeted by shortstop Jenna Rich with a double into the gap in right center. Third baseman Shannon Koplitz became Hosfield's first strikeout victim and then Burns popped up on the infield as UT managed two quick outs. Catcher Rosey O'Neill came through on a two-strike pitch with a double into right center as the advantage expanded to five runs. A line out to third from first baseman Melisa Koutz concluded things, but not before the Cardinal had broken the game open with four tallies on four hits.
Chavanne continued her staggering road trip by beating out a perfect slap single to short with one out in the bottom of the third. For the Thousand Oaks, Calif., native the base knock improved her to 21-of-26 over the last seven games for an .808 batting average. Grieve dropped a bunt to third that was misplayed for an error as Tennessee boasted runners at first and second with one retired. Dotson popped up just behind the first base bag to bring Spigner up facing a big spot in the contest. She delivered a clutch, two-out single back through the middle of the infield as Chavanne crossed to cut the deficit to 5-1. UT couldn't get any closer in the third as a Lady Vol K left runners standing at the corners.
Stanford answered back immediately in the top of the fourth as Haber hit her second home run of the game, a solo shot to center, making it 6-1.
With two outs in the bottom half of the fourth, UT got another run back as Andrews ripped her team-best third homer of the season over the right center field wall. With the score now 6-2 in favor of the Cardinal, Kajitani drove a ball deep to right that was nearly caught on a dive at the wall by SU's Burns. The ball popped out of her glove when she hit the ground as Kajitani raced into third with a triple. Chavanne slapped a promising shot to shortstop, but just missed hitting it solidly as Rich made a backpedaling catch to end the inning with no further scoring.
Grieve shocked those in attendance opening the fifth by putting aside the slap hitting game, swinging away and absolutely crushing a ball to center for a solo home run. The big fly marked the first of her collegiate career at Tennessee. Dotson and Spigner followed with back-to-back singles through the infield, placing two on the base paths with still none retired in the frame as UT entered full-blown rally mode. A Gerhart wild pitch advanced the runners into scoring position at second and third and that paid dividends as Huff blooped a single in between the left fielder and shortstop, plating Dotson to cut the gap to 6-4. Gerhart tried to come inside against Webb and struck her with a pitch to pack the bags full of Lady Vols. After a strikeout Andrews battled out of a 1-2 hole to draw a bases loaded walk, forcing in a run to cut the deficit to 6-5 with still just one out. Kajitani faced a huge spot in the game and continued her stellar night ripping a two-RBI single through the right side of the infield. That completed a staggering comeback from 6-1 down to a 7-6 UT lead.
Renfroe got help from Spigner at third to retire the first two Cardinal hitters in the top of the sixth before the dangerous Haber stepped in fresh off two home runs. UT's 5-10 righty worked to a 2-2 count before losing her via a walk. That free pass brought Hansen and her perfect 3-for-3 night to the dish. Haber swiped second to reach scoring position and was soon joined by her teammate on an intentional walk. Rich made contact with the first pitch she saw, blooping a single into center to tie the score at 7-7. Koplitz ripped a promising shot to third, but Spigner made a leaning grab to her left, turned and tagged out the runner going to third to perhaps prevent another run from scoring.
Stanford's Burns christened the top of the seventh with a double to center. Grieve charged in on the play and dove in an attempt to make the catch, but had it tip off her glove. O'Neill battled Renfroe over 11 pitches before drawing a walk to join her teammate on the base paths. Koutz dropped a perfect sacrifice bunt out in front of the plate to move both runners into scoring position with one down. That's when some controversy entered the discussion at least from Tennessee's side of things. Pinch hitter Alix Van Zandt laced a low liner towards short that Andrews appeared to catch on the fly right off the ground. Unfortunately, the umpires ruled that the ball short-hopped, allowing Van Zandt to load the bases via a strange single. Renfroe struck out Hassman on a pitch outside to again bring up the uber-dangerous Haber in a huge spot. She walked on four straight offerings to force the go-ahead run across for an 8-7 advantage. Hansen flew out to left to end the frame but not before the Cardinal re-took the lead.
Unfortunately, the Big Orange couldn't get the magic going again to rally in the bottom of the seventh as a pair of strikeouts and a groundout ended the game in favor of the Cardinal.
No. 21 Tennessee plays next at the Cathedral City Classic on Friday night versus Syracuse at 11 p.m. ET. Live stats will be available via Gametracker through utladyvols.com, while periodic updates will be posted at www.Twitter.com/UTLadyVols.