KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Senior third baseman Tonya Callahan blasted two three-run home runs to support a one-hit shutout from freshman hurler Ashton Ward as No. 9 Tennessee (42-8, 12-7 SEC) took the first game of a Saturday doubleheader from No. 11 LSU (33-13, 11-9 SEC), 8-0 (5 inn.), at the Lee Softball Stadium.
Callahan equaled her career single-game high for RBIs with six as part of a 2-for-2, two HR performance. The Holden, Mo., native now possesses a team-best 15 HR’s and 54 RBIs. Junior left fielder Lillian Hammond went 2-for-3 with two runs scored, and senior shortstop Kenora Posey delivered a 1-for-2, two-run effort to key the UT speed game. Sophomore center fielder Erinn Webb (0-for-1) and junior right fielder Danielle Pieroni (1-for-2) each recorded single RBIs.
Ward was outstanding in the circle for the Big Orange in improving to 23-3 on the season. The Charlotte N.C., native allowed just one hit and struck out six during her complete game shutout.
LSU designated player Dee Dee Henderson led off the top of the first by beating out an infield single to short. The Tigers’ stolen base leader for ‘08 immediately took off for second and swiped her 29th base to reach scoring position with no one retired. Center fielder Jazz Jackson worked the count to 3-2 before going down swinging against Ward recording a big first out. Right fielder Rachel Mitchell got caught looking at strike three, and catcher Killian Roessner grounded routinely to Callahan down at third leaving the runner stranded at second.
Leading off the bottom of the first, Posey battled to 3-2 before an illegal pitch call on LSU hurler Dani Hofer permitted the Los Angeles, Calif., native to reach first safely. Hammond dropped a perfect slap out in front of the plate and beat the play to first placing a pair aboard for Tennessee power hitter Callahan. The Holden, Mo., native came through once again by blasting her team-best 14th home run over the right center field wall granting the Big Orange a 3-0 lead. A fielding error on a Doepking bouncer by the LSU infield and a walk issued to Huff ended Hofer’s day in the circle as Tiger head coach Yvette Girouard summoned in Tiffany Garcia in relief. She immediately struck freshman first baseman Jen Lapicki with a pitch to load the bases. Webb bounced to second setting off some defensive chaos as LSU’s Shannon Stein corralled the ball, threw to first for the force and then first baseman Erika Sluss tossed to second to retire Lapicki via a double play. Pieroni popped up on the infield to end the frame, but not before Tennessee had sent eight batters to the plate and tallied four runs on two hits and an error.
The Lady Vol speed game got the offensive attack going in the bottom of the second. Posey singled into right field off Garcia and swiped second recording her team-best 35th steal of the campaign. Hammond beat out an infield single back to the circle placing two aboard once again for Callahan. LSU paid dearly for pitching to her again as she hammered another three-run homer, this one to left field and her 15th of the season, upping Tennessee’s lead to 7-0.
Meanwhile, from the circle Ward was rolling along retiring six Tigers in a row over the second and third frames after issuing a harmless lead-off walk in the top of the second.
Lapicki christened the bottom of the third by drawing a walk from Garcia. Webb dropped a perfect sacrifice bunt toward third advancing freshman pinch runner Natalee Weissinger up 60 feet into scoring position. That brought up Pieroni in the clutch spot, and she came through by ripping an offering into right center for an RBI double as the runner came around to the plate for an 8-0 advantage.
Attempting to get something going against Ward in the top of the fourth, LSU’s Mitchell managed to draw a lead-off walk. An illegal pitch advanced the runner up 60 feet into scoring position before Roessner went down looking at strike three for the first out. Left fielder Quinlan Duhon bounced out to Callahan advancing Mitchell to third with two retired. Shortstop Tayl’r Hollis got a lot of bat on a Ward offering but flew out routinely to Hammond in left completing the Purple & Gold frame with no damage.
All of a sudden LSU found itself down to a last chance to extend things before suffering the run-rule. Sluss opened the frame by popping up to Callahan in foul ground outside of third. Pinch hitter Casey Faile bounced back to the circle as Ward made the grab and threw on to Lapicki for out number two. Stein flew out routinely to right as Pieroni squeezed the sphere to complete the one-hit shutout.
No. 9 Tennessee will continue its doubleheader with No. 11 LSU on Saturday afternoon at approximately 3:15 p.m. ET. Live stats will be available through utladyvols.com.