Freshman Kat Dotson
April 10, 2010
By Brian Davis, Assistant Media Relations Director
AUBURN, Ala. - A clutch two-run, sixth-inning homer from freshman right fielder Kat Dotson backed a solid tag-team pitching effort from the circle as No. 17 Tennessee (32-8, 11-4 Southeastern Conference) rallied from a late one-run deficit to post a 2-1 triumph over Auburn (22-16, 6-10 SEC) and split Saturday's doubleheader at Jane B. Moore Field in Auburn, Ala.
Dotson's home run as part of a 1-for-3 effort marked her third of the season. Freshman second baseman Lauren Gibson was 2-for-3 with a triple, junior center fielder Kelly Grieve was 1-for-3 with her team-best eighth double of the season and sophomore catcher Shelby Burchell contributed a single over a pair of at-bats.
Sophomore starter Cat Hosfield improved to 13-5 overall, allowing one unearned tally on four hits with two walks and two strikeouts over five innings. Freshman Ivy Renfroe fired two frames of hitless relief with a walk and a K in recording her third career save.
"It was another tough day for our team down on `the Plains' of Auburn," Lady Vol co-head coach Ralph Weekly said. "Both of today's games were extremely tight, and the pitchers on both sides threw really well. It seems like every time we come down here we have close, hard-fought games, whether you're talking about Monica Abbott on the mound or Cat Hosfield. Tiffany Huff played extremely well today, and Kat Dotson's two-run home run was critical."
The match-up opened as a pitcher's duel between Tennessee's Hosfield and Auburn's Anna Thompson as neither team managed to get anything going in the first inning.
A sharp single through the right side of the infield by Gibson granted the Lady Vols the game's initial base runner for either squad with two retired in the second. Unfortunately for UT, a swinging strikeout left her stranded at first.
With Hosfield keeping the Auburn offense in check through two complete frames, senior designated player Nicole Kajitani tried to get something started by drawing a lead-off walk in the top of the third. Unfortunately, Thompson set down the next three Lady Vols in order, including a pair of K's.
Tiger left fielder Katie Colton broke a string of seven consecutive hitters retired by UT's 5-9 right hander with a single back through the middle in the third. Center fielder Krista Clyde dropped a sac bunt up the third base line to advance the runner into scoring position with a pair of outs. With first base open third baseman Kyndall White was intentionally walked to bring right fielder Caitlin Stangl to the plate with two on. She went down swinging to strand two Tigers on the base paths and continue the scoreless deadlock through three complete.
Dotson fought out of a 0-2 hole to coerce a lead-off free pass from Thompson in the top of the fourth. Huff stepped into the box and just missed a ball, driving a shot to left that was corralled near the warning track. With sophomore third baseman Jessica Spigner at the plate, Dotson managed to swipe second as catcher Elisabeth Eisterhold's throw traveled into center field. On a strikeout with the ball low and in the dirt, Dotson advanced to third by theft to get within 60 feet of paydirt. Unfortunately the eighth Lady Vol K of the contest ended the inning with the runner stranded at third.
With one out in the bottom of the fourth, Eisterhold lined a single to center and was replaced on the base paths by pinch runner Baylee Stephens. A pitch in the dirt from Hosfield allowed the runner to move up 60 feet into scoring position. Second baseman Kelsey Cartwright bounced sharply back to the circle as UT's hurler made the grab. She turned and tried to throw behind the runner at second, but her toss was high as Auburn managed occupants at the corners on the fielder's choice. That set the stage for a blooper to left center from shortstop Lauren Guzman as a run scored for a 1-0 Tiger lead. With runners at second and third and a base open, Colton was intentionally walked to bring Clyde to the plate. The AU hitter lined just outside of third as Spigner dove fully extended to her right and made a "web gem" catch to conclude the frame with no further scoreboard damage.
With Tennessee suddenly trailing on the scoreboard, Burchell opened the top of the fifth by inside-outing an offering just inside the right field line for a single. Sophomore pinch runner Ashley Andrews managed to move into scoring position on a Thompson wild pitch. But as had been the story for most of the day, UT's next three hitters went down in order to up the left on base count to four through five frames.
White ripped a shot into the gap starting the bottom of the fifth, but defensive sub Holly Baker played the ball perfectly off the wall and fired a strike to Gibson covering second as she made the tag for a huge out. Grieve raced over from her defensive position into right center to track down a fly ball off the bat of Stangl. Harrison also made solid contact against Hosfield, but Baker made her second great play of the frame, tracking the ball down near the warning track in left center for the third out.
UT kept plugging away trying to get something started offensively as Grieve ripped a double into the right center field gap opening the top of the sixth. Then Dotson stepped into the box and absolutely crushed a towering two-run homer to deep right, her third HR of the season, to give the Big Orange its first lead of the game at 2-1. With still none out, that ended Thompson's day in the circle as first game winner Lauren Schmalz entered in relief. She settled the match-up down until Gibson just missed hitting a homer to center with two outs, settling for a triple off the top of the wall. Andrews battled Schmalz over an eight-pitch at-bat to draw a walk and place Lady Vol runners at the corners. Kajitani swung at the first pitch and flew out to right but not before Tennessee had managed two runs on three hits in the inning.
Renfroe entered the contest in relief starting the bottom of the sixth and retired Eisterhold, Cartwright and Guzman in order to send the game to the seventh with UT still up by a single tally.
With Auburn facing its last chance in the seventh, Colton was struck by a one-out pitch and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt from Clyde. The decision was made to intentionally walk the .300+ hitting White to bring the .234 hitting Stangl to the plate facing a huge spot in the contest. Renfroe fell behind the batter 3-0 before firing a strike across the plate. On the next pitch the batter popped up to second base as Gibson squeezed the orb to seal a big comeback win.
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.