May 8, 2010
By Brian Davis, Assistant Media Relations Director
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - In front of a season-high crowd of 1,541, No. 18 Tennessee (40-12, 16-8 Southeastern Conference) out-hit its opponent but dropped a 3-0 decision to No. 11 LSU (42-12, 20-7 SEC) to split a Saturday afternoon doubleheader at Lee Softball Stadium. UT won the opener, 6-5, to set up a rubber match finale on Sunday at 2 p.m., live on ESPNU.
Freshman second baseman Lauren Gibson guided the Big Orange offense by posting a perfect 3-for-3 day at the dish with a double. Sophomore third baseman Jessica Spigner recorded a 2-for-3 effort with her team-best 10th two-bagger of the campaign, while freshman right fielder Kat Dotson singled once in three at-bats. Tennessee left six base runners stranded during the contest.
Sophomore right hander Cat Hosfield permitted three runs on four hits with two walks and four K's in taking a tough loss and dropping to 15-7 overall.
"We're happy with the opening game victory, but obviously not so happy with the result of game two," Lady Vol co-head coach Ralph Weekly said. "Both teams appeared really tired after dealing with final exams last week. Although everyone gave everything they had, both ours and the LSU coaching staff noted an effect from the necessary time spent away from softball. The biggest difference in the finale was that the Tigers got two key hits with runners in scoring position and we didn't. It's as simple as that."
After a quiet first frame that saw each team retired in order by the pitching duo of Hosfield and LSU's Rachele Fico, the Tigers broke in front on the scoreboard in the top of the second.
With two retired in the frame, a walk issued to second baseman Juliana Santos christened the outburst. Shortstop Courtney Hollier quickly followed with a double just inside the third base bag and down the left field line for an RBI as Santos crossed to make it 1-0, Bayou Bengals. Hollier ended up occupying third after the throw to the plate, scoring eventually on a RBI single to center off the bat of catcher Morgan Russell as LSU nabbed a 2-0 advantage.
After Tennessee left single runners stranded during both the second and third frames, including after a lead-off double by Gibson in the latter inning, the Tigers added to their lead in the top of the fourth on a Russell sacrifice fly.
UT's best chance to get back in the game came during the bottom of the fifth. Spigner opened the inning with a double to right center. Following a sharp line-out by sophomore designated player Shelby Burchell, Gibson lifted a ball to right that Rachel Mitchell lost in the bright sunlight. The ball dropped in front of her for a double as freshman pinch runner Leah Taylor advanced 60 feet to third. Unfortunately for the Big Orange, an infield pop-up and bouncer to short left the duo stranded in scoring position.
The Lady Vols got a one-out single from Dotson in the sixth and a two-out base knock from Gibson in the seventh, but couldn't get the clutch hit needed to dent the scoreboard against Fico as LSU prevailed.
No. 18 Tennessee's rubber match against No. 11 LSU is slated for a 2 p.m. ET first pitch on Sun., May 9. The live broadcast is scheduled for ESPNU with Cara Capuano and Michele Smith on the call.