March 7, 2009

Courtesy of Tennessee

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – With strong winds gusting as high as 35 mph wreaking havoc at “The Preview” presented by WORTH on Saturday morning at the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, Okla., No. 7 Tennessee (19-2) got a clutch sixth-inning, three-run homer from junior first baseman Tiffany Huff to rally from a late deficit, but a walk-off homer by No. 16 Northwestern eventually led the Wildcats past the Lady Vols, 7-3.


Huff led the UT offense with her 1-for-3 day at the plate and the three-run shot, her fifth big fly of the 2009 campaign.  The three RBIs also lifted the Saugus, Calif., native’s team-leading total to 43 through just 21 contests.  In the circle, freshman Cat Hosfield (14-2) suffered just her second loss of the year, allowing seven runs on seven hits during a complete-game effort.


Following a quick one-two-three top of the first for the Lady Vols, Northwestern’s Tammy Williams got the Wildcat offense started leading-off the bottom half of the frame with a double into the gap in left center.  Hosfield settled in as slap-hitting third baseman Robin Thompson was retired for stepping out of the front of the batter’s box while batting for the first retirement.  Second baseman Nicole Pauly grounded routinely to freshman Jessica Spigner at third, getting UT within one out of holding NU scoreless.  Unfortunately, a walk issued to first baseman Adrienne Monka, an infield single off the bat of designated player Michelle Batts and a bases-loaded free pass to catcher Erin Dyer forced in a run for a 1-0 Wildcat lead.  Center fielder Kelly Dyer popped out to sophomore catcher Jen Lapicki in foul ground behind the plate as NU left the bags packed.


Tennessee got its initial base runner of the contest against NU hurler Lauren Delaney in the top of the third.  Rookie shortstop Ashley Andrews hit a chopper that tipped off the glove of Northwestern’s leaping pitcher and bounced toward short for a two-out single.  Sophomore center fielder Kelly Grieve followed with a ground ball to short that she nearly beat out for a base hit, but was retired instead to end the inning.  


The Wildcats added another score in the bottom of the third as a lead-off single from Thompson, a double down the right field line from Monka and a RBI groundout from Batts brought the runner across for a 2-0 advantage.


With Delaney controlling the Lady Vol offense from the circle, the NU lead stretched to three runs in the bottom of the fifth as Monka drove a Hosfield pitch just beyond the left center field wall for a solo homer.


Time was beginning to run short as Tennessee’s offense stepped to the dish in the top of the sixth.  Following a fly out and a strikeout, UT’s Grieve attempted to get something going by beating out an infield base hit back to the circle.  Hammond followed with a clean single into center field, setting the stage for some Lady Vol heroics.  Huff delivered in the clutch by blasting a three-run homer just over the wall in center, dead-locking the contest at 3-3.


In the bottom of the seventh, strong winds that were making life difficult on both defenses helped grant Northwestern a gift base runner.  Williams lifted a high pop-up on the infield that got caught up in the swirling winds, eventually dropping between three Lady Vol fielders for a shocking double.  NU pinch hitter Emily Haug followed with a walk as the Wildcats placed two aboard with just one down.  Pauly swung at the first pitch from Hosfield and fouled out to Lapicki off to the right of the plate for a huge second retirement.  The decision was made to intentionally walk Monka, who was 2-for-2 on the day, to get to Batts.  The move didn’t pay off, however, as Batts launched a grand slam to left center as the Wildcats prevailed, 7-3.        


No. 7 Tennessee continues “The Preview” presented by WORTH on Sat., March 7th, at 4 p.m. CT, in a rematch with Oklahoma at the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, Okla.  Live stats will be available through via Gametracker.