March 31, 2009
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The No. 13 Tennessee Lady Vol softball squad (26-8, 4-5 SEC) takes a step away from its rugged Southeastern Conference slate on Wed., April 1st, by hosting the UTEP Miners (20-17, 6-6 Conference USA) for a single contest at 5 p.m. ET at the Lee Softball Stadium.
The Big Orange have faced UTEP once previously taking a 5-0 decision over the Miners in Knoxville back on March 26, 2004, at then-home field Tyson Park. Against Conference USA programs, UT maintains a 12-5 record all-time and is 1-0 this year after downing league school UCF, 1-0 (8 inn.), on Feb. 14th, at the UCF Early Bird Tournament in Orlando, Fla.
Despite putting up 18 total runs and hitting .338 as a team over a trio of match-ups last weekend against Mississippi State, Tennessee dropped a tough series against the Bulldogs two games to one.
Individually, Lady Vol freshman designated player Shelby Burchell guided the way for UT average-wise by hitting .857 (6-of-7) with two runs scored and a pair of RBIs. The Columbia, Tenn., native reached base safely via hit in six consecutive at-bats stretching over the three contests and posted a career-high three base knocks in the 8-0 (5 inn.) victory over MSU in Saturday's doubleheader finale.
Sophomore catcher/first baseman Jen Lapicki continued her impressive offensive production since entering league play, hitting .500 (5-of-10) against the Maroon & White, while blasting her fourth homer of the season. The Oldwick, N.J., native now possesses a .462 batting average, counting only league match-ups, to rate second in the SEC. She is also tied for third in doubles (4), rates fourth in slugging percentage (.846) and seventh in on-base percentage (.517).
With four total RBIs during the Mississippi State series, junior catcher/first baseman Tiffany Huff surpassed her entire season total from her 2008 NFCA All-South Region campaign (50 RBIs) and remains the leader in the conference in that category counting all games. The Saugus, Calif., product also rates second in the SEC in overall batting average (.462), is tied for second in doubles (11) and ranks fourth in on base percentage (.548).
Junior second baseman Erinn Webb came up just a double shy of becoming the second known Lady Vol to hit for the cycle during the series finale against Mississippi State. The Hemet, Calif., native delivered a triple in the second inning, a home run in the third and a single in the fifth as part of a 3-for-4, three-RBI effort.
Headed by one of only three husband and wife coaching duos in NCAA Division I softball (Ralph and Karen Weekly; Michael and Stefni Lotief at Louisiana-Lafayette) in James and Kathleen Rodriguez, UTEP enters its action against Tennessee with a 20-17 overall record and in possession of one of the top offenses in the country. Among this season's 20 triumphs is a high-profile 7-4 victory over defending national champion and then No. 2-ranked Arizona State back on Feb. 8 at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz.
The Miners currently lead Conference USA in batting average (.303), hits (312), runs scored (212), doubles (61), HR's (48), RBIs (198), slugging (.510) and on-base percentage (.392). In the latest NCAA Division I statistics as of March 22nd, UTEP rated in the nation's top 10 in home runs per game and in the top 20 in scoring (5.81 runs per game), batting average, doubles per game and slugging.
Freshman Chelsea Troupe guides the Miners in batting average at .434 while having recorded 12 doubles, eight home runs and 29 RBIs. Preseason Conference USA selections Camilla Carrera (.430, 10 HR's), Amber Bennett (.337, 3 HR's) and Stacie Townsend (.311, 7 HR's) have contributed 20 total big flies and 32, 22 and 29 RBIs, respectively. Senior Jennifer Davis is hitting .310 with six homers and 24 RBIs, while junior Ashley Ellis has added a .270 mark, six home runs and 25 RBIs.
A trio of hurlers comprises the UTEP pitching staff with Townsend serving as the No. 1, having thrown a team-high 150.2 innings with a 12-10 record, a 3.72 ERA and 143 strikeouts. Junior Kelly Curran has provided 78.2 innings in support, adding a 7-6 mark with a 5.87 ERA and 55 K's. Freshman Chelsea Mayer possesses a 1-1 record and a 4.75 ERA with 11 strikeouts in 17.2 frames in the circle.