May 6, 2009
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - With the regular season concluded, it's on to postseason play and for No. 16 Tennessee (37-15-1, 12-12-1 SEC) that means familiar surroundings at the Lee Softball Stadium as the Lady Vols host the annual Southeastern Conference Tournament over May 7-9. Fifth-seeded UT opens its postseason road against fourth-seeded and 20th-ranked LSU (32-15-1, 15-10-1 SEC) on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. ET.
The tournament kicks off on Thursday morning at 11 a.m. with third-seeded Georgia battling sixth-seeded Kentucky. Second-seeded Alabama is slated to face seventh-seeded Arkansas at 1:30 p.m. and top-seed Florida will match-up against eighth-seeded Auburn at 5 p.m. Web streaming is expected to be available through utladyvols.com for every contest except Saturday's championship game, which will be broadcast live via Fox Sports South. The Sports Animal (99.1, 99.3 FM, 990 AM) will radio broadcast all Lady Vol games during the tourney.
This marks Tennessee's 10th overall and seventh consecutive visit to the league's annual showcase event. The Big Orange are 15-14 all-time at the SEC Tournament and own one league title, obtained back during 2006 in Athens, Ga. Against Thursday's opponent LSU, the Lady Vols maintain a 16-19-1 overall series record and are 1-2 versus the Bayou Bengals in SEC Tournament action with meetings in 1998, 2003 and 2006 (title game, 3-0 UT win). Tennessee has triumphed in 12 of the last 17 meetings (12-4-1) in the series dating back to a 4-0 victory in Knoxville on March 7, 2004.
A trip to Baton Rouge, La., back over April 4-5 proved both successful and historic for the Tennessee softball program. UT swept both ends of a hard-fought Saturday doubleheader, 2-1 and 7-4, before the two teams battled to the first tie in the 13-year history of SEC softball, a 3-3 deadlock in Sunday's series finale. The Orange & White actually nabbed a 4-3 lead heading into the bottom of the eighth inning, but a 4 p.m. deadline established to allow the Big Orange just enough time to race to the airport to catch the last flight out of Baton Rouge at 5:05 p.m. didn't allow time for LSU to have their turn at bat. Therefore, the match-up reverted back to the last completed inning as both squads were forced to settle for a disappointing tie.
Freshman hurler Cat Hosfield was stellar all weekend long for the Lady Vols versus LSU, making three appearances in the circle while posting a 1-0 record, a save and a 0.95 ERA in 14.2 innings of work. At the plate, sophomore catcher/first baseman Jen Lapicki led the offensive charge by hitting .444 (4-for-9), while sophomore center fielder Kelly Grieve hit .308 and knocked in a pair of runs, including the eventual game-winner, in the series opener. Junior catcher/first baseman Tiffany Huff was responsible for three RBIs during UT's 7-4 victory and freshman third baseman Jessica Spigner blasted a two-run home run in the finale.
LSU enters this weekend's event on a roll having won five of its last six games after sweeping South Carolina and taking two of three contests from Auburn. The Tigers are hitting .283 as a team to rate fifth in the league in batting average and are scoring at a 4.7 run per game clip. The Bayou Bengals have posted 40 doubles, eight triples and 27 home runs in 48 games played with 43 stolen bases.
Junior transfer Kirsten Shortridge leads the way at the dish by rating third in the SEC with a .430 batting average (74-of-172). The transfer out of Baylor has also added 35 runs scored, a team-high 24 thefts in 30 attempts, three home runs and 23 RBIs. Juniors Jazz Jackson (.322, 10 RBIs) and Rachel Mitchell (.315) complete a trio of LSU batters over the .300 mark, with the latter owning the squad lead in RBIs with 36. Freshmen Anissa Young (.234, 28 RBIs), Ashley Langoni (.211, 23 RBIs) and Juliana Santos (.278, 25 RBIs) have provided the majority of the power for the Tigers with seven, six and four home runs, respectively. Young, you may remember, blasted a solo HR in the bottom of the seventh inning with LSU trailing 3-2 in this season's series finale to secure the tie against Tennessee.
In the circle four hurlers have combined as part of the SEC's fourth-rated pitching staff by ERA at 2.33. Junior Cody Trahan has worked a squad-high 135.1 innings while tallying an 11-5 record, 10 complete games, a 2.17 ERA and 128 strikeouts. Freshman Brittany Mack has added an 11-4 record with a 2.36 ERA and 110 K's in 103.2 frames. Sophomore Casey Faile (6-3, 1.93 ERA) and Shortridge (4-3, 3.43 ERA) have contributed 50.2 and 34.2 innings of quality support.
|2009 SEC Tournament|
|Thursday, May 7|
|11 a.m.||#3 Georgia vs. #6 Kentucky|
|1:30 p.m.||#2 Alabama vs. #7 Arkansas|
|5 p.m.||#1 Florida vs. #8 Auburn|
|7:30 p.m.||#4 LSU vs. #5 Tennessee|
|Friday, May 8|
|5 p.m.||Game Five|
|7:30 p.m.||Game Six|
|Saturday, May 9|
|1:30 p.m.||Championship Game (FSN-TV)|
ALL TIMES EASTERN