DELAND, Fla. – Three home runs, including a walk-off blast from junior catcher Shelby Burchell, powered No. 4 Tennessee (3-0) past Boston College, 8-0 (5 inn.), on Sunday morning at the Stetson Leadoff Classic in DeLand, Fla. UT has now run-ruled all three of its opponents in 2011 while outscoring those foes, 30-2.
UT junior pitcher Cat Hosfield picked up her first victory of the season from the circle by firing a two-hit, complete-game shutout with four strikeouts.
Big Orange sophomore left fielder Raven Chavanne led the way offensively from the top of the line-up by posting a perfect 3-for-3 effort with her team-best second homer of the year, two runs scored, two stolen bases and a pair of RBIs. Burchell (hitting .750 for the weekend) was 2-for-3 at the dish with the walk-off HR and three RBIs, while junior third baseman Jessica Spigner (1-for-3, run), sophomore second baseman Lauren Gibson (1-for-2, two runs) and freshman shortstop Madison Shipman (1-for-2, first collegiate HR) each recorded an RBI.
After retiring her first batter of the season via a slow roller to second, Hosfield struck Boston College second baseman Rene Delagrammaticas with an offering to grant the Eagles an early base runner in the top of the first. The Murfreesboro, Tenn., native rebounded immediately to tally her initial strikeout of 2011 against catcher Brittany Wilkins, a player who had already hit two homeruns in a single game during the Stetson Leadoff Classic. On a 2-2 count, BC designated player Gemma Ypparilla grounded slowly wide of third. Spigner raced over to her left to corral the ball and made a strong throw across the diamond to conclude the frame.
For the third consecutive contest the Lady Vols put a crooked number up on the scoreboard during its initial at-bat. Chavanne dropped a perfect bunt single to third and swiped a base to reach scoring position. Senior center fielder Kelly Grieve followed with a base knock to short, and then the speed game worked to perfection as the duo both advanced 60 feet, setting the stage for the middle of Tennessee’s batting order. Spigner knocked in the first tally on a one-out single to short center as Chavanne crossed from third for a 1-0 lead. With two down Gibson stepped to the plate and blooped a shot into short right that eluded BC’s Carolyn Jones for an RBI double. Following a Shipman walk, Burchell laced a single just over the glove of leaping Eagle second baseman Alison Kooistra and into right center as Gibson raced around to improve the Lady Vol advantage to 3-0.
Hosfield was dealing from the circle, especially during the top of the third, as the 5-9 right hander managed to strikeout both shortstop Alana Dimaso and first baseman Nicole D’Argento, improving her K count to three through a trio of frames.
The 6-1 Shipman made personal history with two outs in the bottom of the third by driving a two-strike pitch from Boston College hurler Amanda Horowitz just over the wall in center for her first collegiate home run and a 4-0 Tennessee advantage.
The lead expanded to 6-0 via the long ball in the bottom of the fourth as a lead-off walk from freshman first baseman Kourtny Thomas was quickly cashed in on a two-run blast to center field by Chavanne.
A single by Boston College’s Kooistra with two outs in the top of the fifth snapped a string of nine consecutive batters retired by Hosfield. She rebounded, however, to retire Dimaso on a ground ball to short as the Big Orange moved to the bottom of the fifth up six tallies.
Looking to keep its early-season streak of run-rule games alive, UT’s offense got off to a good start in the bottom of the fifth as Gibson managed a lead-off walk. With one down, Burchell blasted a towering two-run walk-off shot to left as Tennessee prevailed in five frames, 8-0.