Senior Nicole Kajitani
April 10, 2010
By Brian Davis, Assistant Media Relations Director
AUBURN, Ala. - A walk-off homer by Kelsey Cartwright on the first pitch of the bottom of the seventh inning guided Auburn (22-15, 6-9 Southeastern Conference) to a 2-1 victory over No. 17 Tennessee (31-8, 10-4 SEC) in the opener of a Saturday doubleheader in front of 484 fans at Jane B. Moore Field in Auburn, Ala.
Sophomore reliever Cat Hosfield took the difficult defeat to drop to 12-5 on the season, allowing just the one run on only two hits with three strikeouts over three innings of work. Freshman Ivy Renfroe started in the circle and permitted three hits, one tally and K'ed four in a trio of frames.
Senior catcher Tiffany Huff led the Lady Vol offense by going 2-for-3 with an RBI single, while freshman left fielder Raven Chavanne, sophomore third baseman Jessica Spigner and senior designated player Nicole Kajitani (double) each recorded a base hit during the match-up.
In the top of the first frame, Tennessee got a lead-off single from Chavanne as the Thousand Oaks, Calif., native extended her career-best hitting streak to 11 games. She was thrown out attempting to steal second, however, on a strong throw from AU catcher Elizabeth Eisterhold. Junior center fielder Kelly Grieve managed a one-out walk and advanced into scoring position on a passed ball. Following a Lady Vol K, UT's base runner tried to swipe third, but also was cut down, ending the inning with no scoring.
Renfroe came out ready to throw from the circle, roaring through the Auburn line-up one-two-three with a pair of looking strikeouts against third baseman Kyndall White and designated player Amber Harrison.
The Tigers got their initial base runner on a two-out single through the left side by shortstop Lauren Guzman. That broke a streak of 7.2 consecutive no-hit innings by UT's 5-10 right hander.
An Auburn throwing error on a Kat Dotson bouncer by second baseman Cartwright and an illegal pitch by Tiger starter Angel Bunner advanced a Lady Vol runner into scoring position with two outs in the top of the fourth. That set the stage for a long clutch single off the wall in left center by Huff as Dotson raced around third to plate the game's initial run. Spigner followed with a base knock to left, ending Bunner's stay in the circle as Lauren Schmalz entered the contest in relief. The new hurler immediately struck out a UT batter to leave a pair of Tennessee base runners stranded.
AU right fielder Caitlin Stangl christened the bottom of the fourth by driving a double the other way off the wall in left. Designated player Amber Harrison lifted a shallow fly to left that managed to drop just in front of sub left fielder Holly Baker and suddenly Auburn has runners at second and third with no one out. The move was made to summon Hosfield in for a relief performance to face a difficult situation. The Murfreesboro, Tenn., native responded by striking out Eisterhold on a pitch in the dirt for the first retirement. Cartwright grounded to short and sophomore Ashley Andrews thought about trying to throw home, but decided against it, taking the sure out at first as the Tigers deadlocked the score at 1-1. That tally ended the year's longest shutout string so far for the Lady Vol pitching staff at 22 innings. A bouncer up the first base line by Guzman was handled routinely by senior Erinn Webb as the AU runner was left 60 feet from paydirt.
With the offenses suddenly a bit more awake after a relatively quiet start, the top of the fifth opened with a ringing double off the wall in center by Kajitani. With one out the runner took off for third making it on a successful steal as the ball barely bounced into shallow left field. Unfortunately, a UT strikeout and a foul pop-up outside of third left Kajitani standing 60 feet from giving Tennessee back the lead.
White laced a single into left center off Hosfield as the Tigers got the lead-off runner aboard in the bottom of the sixth. Stangl attempted to lay down the sacrifice bunt but failed by eventually striking out. Harrison lifted a blooper that threatened to drop into short left center, but Andrews raced back from her shortstop position to make the catch. Spigner ended the inning by handling a sharp chopper from Eisterhold as the teams went to the final frame of regulation deadlocked at 1-1.
A two-out walk issued to UT's Webb in the top half of the seventh amounted to nothing. That allowed Auburn the final opportunity in regulation. The Tigers wouldn't let that opportunity go by as Cartwright drove Hosfield's first pitch of the bottom of the frame off the scoreboard in left center for her first homer of the year to post the walk-off 2-1 upset victory.
No. 17 Tennessee wraps up its series on "the Plains" of Auburn on Sun., April 11th. First pitch is slated for a 2 p.m. ET start with the finale slated to be shown live on FOX Sport South with Dave Neal and Cheri Kempf on the call.