KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (April 2, 2008) - The ETSU softball team went toe-to-toe with the 12th ranked Tennessee Lady Vols in the opener of Wednesday's doubleheader, but Tiffany Huff's two-out, game-winning RBI single in the seventh lifted UT to a 4-3 victory from Lee Softball Stadium. Tennessee capped off the sweep with a 7-0 victory in the nightcap.
In game one, ETSU picked up a pair of hits from sophomore Marissa Hardy (Rocklin, Calif.) and Trisha Massenzo (Russellville, Tenn.) in the first, but Tennessee's Megan Rhodes forced Katie Henderson (Jackson, Tenn.) to fly out, leaving the Lady Buccaneer runners stranded in scoring position. Hardy placed one right over the short stop's glove for a single and a Massenzo blooper to left fell in front of Lillian Hammond, putting runners on second and third.
Tennessee - who entered the series outscoring its opponent 32-1 in the second inning - pushed the total to 33-1 in the opener. The Lady Vols scored their run on Erinn Webb's double to left, giving Jennifer Lapicki the opportunity to cross the plate from first. Webb advanced to third on the throw home and Lillian Hammond reached on a fielder's choice after Hardy kept Webb from scoring. However, Hardy did a tremendous job keeping UT to only one run as she struck out pinch hitter Anita Manuma and forced Kelly Grieve to ground out with runners at second and third.
Through the next four innings, ETSU could not get anything going offensively against Rhodes. Rhodes retired 10 straight after she surrendered a two-out single to Massenzo in the first. Fortunately, for the Lady Bucs, Hardy kept Tennessee in check as well. Hardy retired eight of the nine Lady Volunteer batters since Webb's RBI double off the left field wall. Kate Powell's (Johnson City) one-out walk in the fifth snapped Rhodes' streak of not allowing a Lady Buccaneer runner to reach since the first inning, but a fielder's choice by Jessie Hackworth (Clinton, Tenn.) and a Vicki McCoy (Ringgold, Ga.) strikeout ended any threat of tying the game at one.
UT extended its lead to 3-0 as they scored two runs on three hits in the bottom half of the fifth. Kenora Posey lifted one over Cheniece Cason's (Moreno Valley, Calif.) glove at short to lead off the inning and Kelly Grieve reached on the very next at-bat with her single to the left side. Chandra Mogan advanced runners to second and third with a sacrifice bunt, which gave Tonya Callahan the chance to bring the runs home. Callahan looked to have only a sacrifice fly to left-center, but a miscommunication error in the outfield let the ball drop and score the two runs instead. Once again, Hardy did an excellent job working out of a one-out jam. Shannon Doepking reached on a fielder's choice to short, but pinch runner Kelsey Stander was caught in a rundown after Cason went home with the throw and eventually got the runner out when Massenzo hit Hackworth with a laser at third for the tag. Then, Hardy ended the inning on Tiffany Huff's pop out to center.
ETSU finally had an answer for Rhodes in the sixth. Katy Jett (Talbott, Tenn.) - who went yard off Monica Abbott twice a year ago - led off the frame with a single and came around to score on Henderson's double off the center field wall. From there, senior Amanda Haverman (Kirkwood, Mo.) came through with her biggest hit of the season as her single to left drove in Hardy and Henderson to tie the game at 3-3. The two runs scored off Haverman's double marked her first multi-RBI game of the year.
Tennessee put the go-ahead run on in the bottom of the sixth when Lapicki led off with a double to the wall in right-center, but Hardy's dominant pitching continued to give the Lady Vols fits. Pinch runner Natalee Weissinger moved over to third on Hammond's grounder to the circle, but Posey ended the inning with a grounder to short. ETSU also put the go-ahead run on in the top of the seventh, courtesy of Jett's two-out single up the middle, but Cason's fly out to left brought the inning to an end.
The Lady Vols' (Kelly) Grieve led off the seventh with a flare single to left and advanced to second when Mogan walked. Things looked bleak for the Lady Bucs with Tonya Callahan - UT's best hitter stepped in the box - but Hardy forced her to ground into a double play at third. However, Tiffany Huff came up with a two-out, game-winning single to left, which ricocheted off Hackworth's glove and landed in the left field grass, making it 4-3.
Hardy suffered the loss after allowing four runs on nine hits in 6.2 innings and had her record fall to 8-9 on the season. Freshman Ashton Ward earned the win after tossing one inning of one hit ball in relief for her 18th victory.
Tennessee wasted little time getting on the board in the nightcap. The Lady Vols scored five runs on four hits and chased starter Marissa Hardy after only being able to record one out in the first. Tonya Callahan began the scoring with her RBI bunt single and doubles from Jennifer Lapicki and Danielle Pieroni each scored two runs apiece.
Freshman right-hander Ashley Boyd (Chattanooga, Tenn.) entered in relief and did a fine job silencing the Lady Vol batters; however, UT starter and game one winner Ashton Ward brought a no-hitter into the seventh and allowed two Lady Buccaneer runners to reach twice. Boyd tossed 3.1 innings of shutout ball until Tennessee plated two runs in the fourth to extend the lead to 7-0. Mogan drove home (Kelly) Grieve on her two-out RBI single to right and (Tonya) Callahan's double to center scored Mogan.
Katie Henderson reached in the second when she was hit by a pitch and on a fielder's choice in the fourth, while Hardy broke up the no-hit bid with a double to right and earned a walk in the fourth.
Hardy (8-10) lost her fourth straight decision, allowing five runs on three hits, while Ward improved her mark to 19-3 with her one-hit shutout. Boyd allowed two runs on seven hits in 5.2 innings of relief.
After winning seven of their last eight games with a sweep over Presbyterian last week, ETSU has now lost six straight and drop to 16-24 on the campaign. Tennessee snapped its two-game losing skid with the sweep and moved to 33-7 after 40 games.
ETSU returns to action this weekend when they travel to the Music City and face conference rivals Lipscomb and Belmont. The Lady Bucs face off with Lipscomb Friday evening at 6 p.m. EST.
For more information on Lady Buccaneer softball, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.