Feb. 7, 2009

Courtesy of Tennessee

ST. GEORGE, Utah – The No. 12 Tennessee Lady Vol softball team (2-1) fought hard but dropped a 2-1 decision to No. 15 Washington (1-0) and its All-American and 2008 Canadian Olympic Team pitcher Danielle Lawrie on Friday afternoon at the BYU Red Desert Classic in St. George, Utah.


Freshman hurler Cat Hosfield was solid despite suffering the first loss of her collegiate career, dueling Lawrie pitch-for-pitch over 6.0 innings while allowing seven hits, two earned runs and striking out two.  Lawrie went the whole way for the Huskies, punching out nine and permitting four hits and an unearned run over seven frames.


Senior left fielder Lillian Hammond raised her early season batting average to .600 (6-of-10) with another 2-for-3 effort from the No. 2 spot in the order.  Junior second baseman Erinn Webb and freshman shortstop Ashley Andrews each delivered a hit in the match-up.  Sophomore center fielder Kelly Grieve plated UT’s lone run after drawing a walk to lead-off the game.


“I thought we really played well in the day’s opener against Utah State,” Lady Vol co-head coach Ralph Weekly said.  “Tiffany Huff continued her torrid hitting while Lillian Hammond and Kelly Grieve did good work at the plate.  Ashley Andrews made some phenomenal plays for us at short, and it was great to see Jessica Spigner and Shelby Burchell hit their first collegiate home runs.


“We’re obviously disappointed to lose a close game this afternoon to the nationally-ranked Huskies.  This game will serve as a great learning experience for our young ball club.  Five freshmen played against a very experienced Washington team that has five seniors and a very good pitcher in Danielle Lawrie.  I think Washington is a World Series team, and our kids competed with them extremely well.  We had an opportunity in the first inning to break the game open, but couldn’t get the timely hit.  The Huskies came through in the third with a big hit that drove in the two runs they needed.  I thought Cat Hosfield was exceptional for our team in her big-game debut.”


Facing 2008 Canadian Olympic pitcher Danielle Lawrie, Tennessee demonstrated outstanding patience at the plate in getting a scoring threat started in the top of the first.  Grieve battled to draw a lead-off walk and advanced to second on a sharp ground ball down the third base line off the bat of Hammond.  Junior catcher Tiffany Huff stepped in the box and drove a bouncer the other way that handcuffed shortstop Ashley Charters for an error as Grieve scored for a quick 1-0 lead with Hammond ending up at third.  Following a K for out number one, Webb battled Lawrie over numerous pitches before drawing a free pass to load the bases.  Unfortunately for the Big Orange, Lawrie settled down to post a strikeout and coerce a ground ball to leave the trio stranded.  The Lady Vols made UW’s hurler fire 40 pitches in the opening frame.


Charters drove the first pitch of the bottom of the first inning from Hosfield into the gap in left center, but Grieve raced over from her center field defensive position to track the ball down with a running back-handed play.  UT’s defense continued to make noise following a single through the left side of the infield off the bat of UW center fielder Bailey Stenson.  The runner took off for second and Huff made a strong throw from behind the plate to the shortstop Andrews covering as Tennessee cut down the runner.  Spigner made a solid play on a groundball to third from designated player Alicia Blake and threw across the diamond to complete an impressive defensive effort.


After posting two quick outs in the bottom of the second including a strikeout looking, Hosfield allowed a double into the left center field gap from Lauren Greer to place the potential tying run in scoring position.  Washington couldn’t take advantage, however, as Andrews made a great play on a Niki Williams chopper behind the circle and threw to first on the run to leave the base occupant stranded.


Hammond christened the top of the third by beating out an infield single and was joined on the base paths via a two-out single from Webb.  Sophomore first baseman Jen Lapicki stepped in and drove a 2-2 pitch to deep center, but not quite deep enough, as Stenson made the play just feet in front of the temporary fencing to strand the Lady Vol pair on the base paths.


With one down in the bottom of the third, UW left fielder Marnie Koziol granted the Huskies a base runner with a clean single into left field.  On a low pitch in the dirt, the runner successfully swiped second and was immediately joined on the base paths by Charters via a walk.  Stenson stepped into the batter’s box for Washington facing a big offensive opportunity.  On a 3-2 pitch, the UW outfielder drove a pitch into the gap in right center, plating a pair of runs before being caught in an extended rundown between second and third and tagged out for the second retirement.  Blake flew out to Grieve in left center to conclude the frame, but not before the Huskies had grabbed their first lead of the contest at 2-1.


A walk and a one-out single got Washington’s offense in business again in the bottom of the fourth.  A wild pitch from Hosfield moved the runners up 60 feet into scoring position just before Williams was retired via strikes.  Lawrie was walked intentionally to load the bases with two retired, bringing up Koziol with a chance to blow things open.  Hosfield got ahead of the hitter 0-2 before nibbling on the outside corner for a ball.  The count advanced to 2-2 before Tennessee’s right hander induced a pop-up that Andrews handled behind the third base bag, leaving the bases packed full of Huskies.


Following a relatively quiet fourth and fifth frame, UW’s Stuart blooped a double over first with one retired in the bottom of the sixth.  Hosfield worked to 2-2 against Greer before inducing a fly ball that Grieve squeezed in center for out number two.  A foul pop-up off the bat of pinch hitter Kimi Pohlman was tracked down behind third to leave a fifth Washington runner in scoring position.


Facing a last opportunity in the top of the seventh, Tennessee could not get a rally started against Lawrie as a strikeout and a pair of groundouts completed Washington’s 2-1 triumph.


The Lady Vols take to the diamond again on Saturday at 1 p.m. ET against San Jose State before closing their event stay versus BYU at 3:30 p.m. ET.  For periodic voicemail updates of this weekend’s action at the BYU Red Desert Classic call the Lady Vol Hotline at 865-974-8700 and select box #6.