KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (April 14, 2009) - The ETSU softball team hung in with nationally-ranked Tennessee on Tuesday night, but the No. 12 Lady Vols scored two unearned runs on a Marissa Hardy (Rocklin, Calif.) fielding error in the third and picked up three insurance runs in the sixth to come away with the 5-0 victory at Lee Softball Stadium.
With the loss ETSU dropped to 23-19 on the year, while Tennessee improved its mark to 34-9-1 and have now won 62 straight against in-state non-conference foes.
Hardy suffered the loss and her record fell to 13-10 on the season. The Rocklin, Calif. native allowed five runs on eight hits and struck out six. Cat Hosfield tossed her fifth shutout in 2009 and improved to 25-8. Hosfield allowed four hits, struck out four and issued no walks.
Hardy kept the Lady Vols in check early on after tossing two scoreless innings of one-hit ball. The Tennessee hitters worked some deep counts in that stretch, but Hardy did an outstanding job keeping her composure and getting out of the first two frames without any damage - until she issued a third-inning walk to Nicole Kajitani and had trouble fielding a Kelly Grieve bunt - which led to runners on first and second with one out for Tennessee. Tiffany Huff then came to the plate and drove in the game's first run with an RBI single to left. The Lady Vols tacked on one more run when Jessica Spigner's squeeze bunt plated Grieve to make it a 2-0 contest.
Junior Cheniece Cason (Moreno Valley, Calif.) extended her hitting streak to five straight games and posted ETSU's first hit with her leadoff single to center in the fourth. Unfortunately, Hosfield wasn't rattled and retired the next three Lady Buccaneer hitters she faced to work out of the frame unscathed.
The Lady Bucs had their first and only scoring threat in the fifth, but couldn't manage to push a run home after placing runners on second and third with one out. Freshman third baseman Amy Campbell (Hixson, Tenn.) led off with a single to left and Jessie Hackworth (Clinton, Tenn.) reached on a fielder's choice. Hackworth hit a grounder to third - and when Kajitani fired one to Erinn Webb at second - Campbell was called safe after Webb bobbled the ball on the force play. However, after senior designated player Cat Zyskowski (Grand Rapids, Mich.) laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt, Hosfield worked out of the jam by striking out pinch hitter Katie Henderson (Jackson, Tenn.) and inducing Chelsea O'Connor (Knoxville) into an inning-ending grounder to third.
Hardy did a solid job working out of jam in the bottom half of the inning when Grieve led off with a bunt single and stole two bases to get to third with no outs. However, Hardy settled in and kept her stranded at third by retiring the next three Lady Volunteer hitters to end the threat.
Tennessee broke the game open and tacked on three insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth and extended its lead to 5-0. Kajitani drove in a pair of Lady Volunteer runners on her two-out double to right-center and Grieve plated a run on her infield single to third.
Cason, Campbell and Kate Powell (Johnson City) recorded all four of ETSU's hits with Campbell going 2-for-3, marking her 10th multi-hit game of the season.
Kajitani finished 1-for-3 with two runs scored and two RBIs, while Grieve went 2-for-3 with a run scored, RBI and three stolen bases.
The Lady Bucs will have little time to regroup as they get set to play a doubleheader with Presbyterian on Wednesday afternoon. First pitch is set for 3 p.m. at the PC Softball Complex. .
For more information on Lady Buccaneer softball, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.