No. 8 Tennessee blasts Ole Miss
Weekly gets 1,000th all-time win to highlight 24-year career
OXFORD, Miss. -- No. 8 Tennessee (34-6, 12-4 Southeastern Conference) wasted no time in finishing off a rousing sweep of Ole Miss on Sunday at the Ole Miss Softball Complex in Oxford, Miss., 9-0 (5 inn.), and in the process picked up co-head coach Ralph Weekly's 1000th all-time win throughout a high-profile 24-year coaching career.
He and his wife, co-head coach Karen Weekly, also now own 499 career victories at Tennessee during 10 seasons at Rocky Top. Karen picked up her 700th all-time coaching win back on Feb. 25 with a 4-1 win versus BYU in Cathedral City, Calif.
With UT's run-rule triumph and Alabama's 2-0 loss in Baton Rouge, La., against LSU, Tennessee is currently dead-locked with the Crimson Tide for the overall SEC lead in league play at 12-4.
"First of all I'd like to thank God for all the blessings I've had during a 24-year coaching career," Ralph Weekly said. "I would especially like to thank my wife Karen and my two sons Marc (UT volunteer assistant coach) and John (UT softball camps director) who have been there with me for the majority of those 1,000 wins. I'm so thankful for all the players I've had along the way at Pacific Lutheran, UT-Chattanooga and Tennessee. As we all know it's the players that win the games.
"I'd like to thank all my assistant coaches, especially Dave Zine, my first assistant at PLU, and Marty McDaniel, who is like a brother to me and has been with me for 12 seasons total at both UTC and UT. I'd also like to add thanks to Joan Cronan and the UT administration as well as our outstanding softball support staff, including the director of softball operations Stephanie (Humphrey) Sayne. Those are the people who give the coaching staff all the support needed to help put you in the position to win games."
Junior third baseman Jessica Spigner led the way for Tennessee at the plate with a 2-for-3, two-RBI effort and her ninth HR of the campaign. The big fly also marked the 31st for the Santa Clarita, Calif., native in her career moving her to second all-time in Lady Vol history behind only former UT standout Tonya Callahan (51 HR's).
Sophomore second baseman Lauren Gibson tripled and was 1-for-3 at the dish with an RBI as her SEC-leading batting average (counting league games only) remained at a sterling .490 overall. Sophomore right fielder Kat Dotson doubled and knocked in a tally as part of a 1-for-2 performance, while junior catcher Shelby Burchell was 1-for-3 with two RBIs. Freshman first baseman Melissa Davin continued her recent offensive surge by posting a perfect 2-for-2 day at the dish with an RBI. Senior center fielder Kelly Grieve (1-for-3, two runs, steal) and sophomore designated player Raven Chavanne (1-for-2, run, steal) combined to wreak havoc at the top of the line-up.
In the circle junior Cat Hosfield (4-1) allowed just two hits and struck out one over 3.0 frames of solid work to pick up her fourth victory of 2011. Freshman Ellen Renfroe struck out three over 2.0 perfect innings of relief to close out the win.
Tennessee's offense was ready to make a statement right from the start, putting up a five-spot on three runs and an error in the top of the first. Grieve got it all started with a lead-off single and a steal of second. Chavanne was hit by a pitch from Ole Miss starter Kendall Bruning to put a pair on base. With one down Spigner chopped a shot to short that was misplayed for an error as Grieve headed to the plate to make it 1-0. Following a passed ball and a walk issued to Dotson, Burchell delivered a big two-RBI base knock, expanding the lead to three runs. A run-scoring wild pitch and a Davin RBI single finished off the assault with the Big Orange up 5-0.
Hosfield was in control from the start, racing through the Ole Miss line-up in order in the bottom of the first on only five pitches with a ground out, foul out and an infield pop-up.
UT almost added to its advantage in the top of the second as infield singles from Chavanne and Spigner as well as a walk to Gibson loaded the bags with two outs. Unfortunately, a routine bouncer to second baseman Cali Overbeck left the trio stranded on the base paths.
UM shortstop Natalie Nimmo became the first Rebel base runner via a one-out single in the bottom of the second. Hosfield wasn't bothered, however, coercing a bouncer by center fielder Amanda Hutcheson to Tennessee freshman Madison Shipman at short for a fielder's choice and a chopper to third by Erinn Jayjohn that Spigner handled easily to finish off the frame.
Ole Miss managed a pair of base runners against Hosfield in the bottom of the third. An infield single by left fielder Brittany Broome with two outs and a stolen base got a runner into scoring position. Second baseman Cali Overbeck struck out on a pitch in the dirt but the ball got away. With her running up the line a throw to first was dropped for an error allowing Overbeck to reach. On the play, however, a heads-up Davin picked up the ball and fired across the diamond to Spigner to nail Broome attempting to advance to third for the inning-ending out.
The lead grew to seven runs during the top of the fourth as the Tennessee squad managed to hit for the cycle during the frame and did it all with two outs. Gibson started the assault off with a long triple off the wall. Spigner stepped in the box and crushed a two-run homer to make it 7-0 Big Orange. A Dotson double and a Davin infield single finished off the team cycle, but a fielder's choice kept UT from adding anything else on the scoreboard.
Renfroe entered the contest starting the bottom of the fourth in relief and exerted her influence immediately, retiring the Rebel side in order with two K's.
Freshman pinch hitter Ashley Holmes managed to reach after a strikeout opening the top of the fifth as a passed ball on Ole Miss catcher Rachel Torres allowed the Whittier, Calif., native the chance to race to first safely. Grieve walked and then Chavanne dropped a sac bunt to advance both runners into scoring position with one down. Gibson hit into a fielder's choice as a play to the plate went in UT's favor with Shipman sliding in headfirst under a Torres tag as the lead grew to 8-0. Dotson later contributed a sacrifice fly to plate Grieve and finalize the scoring at nine tallies.
With Ole Miss down to its final chance to avoid the run-rule in the bottom of the fifth, Renfroe wouldn't allow anything. The Jackson, Tenn., native got Hutcheson to pop-up to short, Jayjohn to fly out to center and then struck out Jayla Hubbard to end the series sweep.