KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Propelled by a four-run fifth inning, the fifth-ranked Tennessee Lady Vol softball team (10-1) opened the new Sherri Parker Lee Stadium in style, defeating Brigham Young University (7-4) by the score of 8-2, in the opening contest of the Tennessee Classic in Knoxville, Tenn.
UT got a pair of two-RBI hits to break open a 2-2 tie in the fifth inning with a double by sophomore designated player Tiffany Huff and a clutch, two-out single through the right-side by sophomore center fielder Anita Manuma. Huff finished the day with three RBI’s and a run, while senior third baseman Tonya Callahan and sophomore second baseman Nicole Kajitani each scored a pair of runs to lead the squad. Sophomore right fielder Erinn Webb blasted her second HR of the campaign in the fourth inning.
Freshman hurler Ashton Ward improved to 7-1 on the season after giving up two runs on six hits over five frames. Senior Megan Rhodes entered in relief in the sixth inning with the bases loaded and pitched out of the jam to record her first save of the year.
“I think BYU is a tremendous hitting team,” co-head coach Ralph Weekly said. “Trice (BYU starting pitcher) had 46 K’s in 26 innings coming into this game. It was a challenge, but our young players responded. I’m really happy that Erinn Webb and Tiffany Huff had key hits and that Megan Rhodes came in and pitched us out of a bases loaded jam in the sixth inning.”
After Ward retired the Cougars in order in the top of the first, the Lady Vols wasted no time getting on the scoreboard in their own half of the first frame. Junior left fielder Lillian Hammond led off the inning with a walk against BYU hurler Christina Trice. Unfortunately for the Big Orange, freshman second baseman Chandra Mogan popped up a potential sacrifice bunt to third, and Hammond was doubled off first on a bouncing throw that was dug out at first base by Daniela Snow. With two retired, Callahan drew a free pass and then immediately came around to score on a ringing double into the gap and off the wall in left center to make it 1-0.
Tennessee threatened again in the bottom of the second as freshman first baseman Jen Lapicki drew the third walk of game allowed by BYU. A long fly out to the base of the wall in left by sophomore left fielder Anita Manuma served as the second out of the frame. Senior shortstop Kenora Posey dropped a perfect bunt just toward third base and beat the throw to first to place two aboard for the Orange & White. Unfortunately, Hammond’s ground ball to the right side of the infield went straight to Cougar second baseman Kristin Delahoussaye, and she took care of the scoring threat.
BYU got the run back in the top of the third as shortstop Amanda Vance drew a one out walk against Ward. After a pop-up by left fielder Stephanie Hopkins made it two outs, an infield single by center fielder Monica Gonzales put runners at first and second. Delahoussaye blasted a shot up the middle into center field to put both runners in motion. Manuma fielded the ball and came up throwing, but an attempt was made to cut off the throw near the circle. The ball got away for an error as Vance crossed to tie the score at one.
The Blue, White & Tan grabbed their initial lead of the day in the top of the fourth. Third baseman Angeline Quiocho hammered the first home run in Lee Stadium history, a solo shot with two down, over the left center field wall for a 2-1 advantage. Designated player Caschjen Davis followed immediately with a bloop double into short right center field as a full-speed Manuma couldn’t run down the ball before the orb fell to the ground. Ward got out of the inning by catching Vance looking at strike three.
Webb helped the Lady Vols escape the hole on the scoreboard in the bottom of the fourth. The Hemet, Calif., native registered the first Tennessee home run at the new Lee Stadium, and her second big fly of the season, by blasting a solo shot down the right field line that passed just on the good side of the fair pole.
The contest settled down in the top of the fifth as Ward induced three consecutive ground outs off the bat of Hopkins, Gonzales and Delahoussaye to maintain the 2-2 tie.
In the bottom half of the fifth, Tennessee raced back in front with four runs on two hits, two walks, a hit batter and an error as UT sent nine batters to the plate. Kajitani drew a one out walk. A ground ball from Callahan went right between the legs of BYU third baseman Quiocho for an error allowing the runners to end up at first and second. Another walk, this one issued to Doepking, loaded the bases for Huff. The Saugus, Calif., native fouled off several pitches before drilling a lazer right over the top of the first base bag and down the line for a two-RBI double and a 4-2 lead. Following a strikeout and a hit batter, Manuma came through with a hard single through the right side to plate two more and up the count to 6-2.
An error on the Lady Vol infield to lead-off the top of the sixth opened the door for another BYU scoring threat. The fielding miscue was followed immediately by consecutive singles up the middle from right fielder Emi Willing and Snow to load the bases with no outs and signal the end of the day in the circle for Ward. Rhodes entered and went to a full count against Quiocho before catching her looking at strike three on the inside corner for a big first out. Tennessee’s senior hurler struck out Davis, but allowed Vance to drive a shot to deep left. Hammond turned and drifted back just in front of the left field wall and made the catch to strand three on the basepaths.
BYU brought in a new pitcher to begin the bottom of the sixth and the Big Orange took advantage of four consecutive walks issued by the new hurler to force in a run and nab a 7-2 advantage. Webb drove a shot down the left field line for a sacrifice fly as Davis made a sliding grab to prevent more damage. Up 8-2 in the match-up, two more runs would have ended the contest early via run-rule, but pinch hitter Caitlin Ryan popped out in foul territory outside of first to end the frame.
Down to their last opportunity, the Cougars sent Hopkins, Gonzales and Delahoussaye to the plate. Rhodes K’ed the first batter and induced a pop-up to third base off the bat of Gonzales. Pinch hitter Erin Olander became Rhodes’ fourth strikeout victim in two frames to complete the contest and earn her first save of the campaign.
No. 4 Tennessee will continue the Tennessee Classic with a full slate of games at Lee Softball Stadium on Friday, Feb. 22. UT Live stats will be available through utladyvols.com and, as always, periodic updates will be recorded on the Lady Vol Hotline (865-974-8700, box #6).
SHERRI PARKER LEE STADIUM "FIRSTS"
First Pitch: 5:08 p.m. by UT's Ashton Ward
First Hit: Double by Shannon Doepking
First Double: Shannon Doepking
First Home Run: Angeline Quiocho (Solo)
First Lady Vol Home Run: Erinn Webb
First Putout: Shannon Doepking on Runner's Interference
First Strikeout: Ashton Ward struck out Kristen Delahoussaye
First Double Play: Chandra Mogan (5-4)
First Walk: Lillian Hammond
First Hit By Pitch: Jen Lapicki hit by Christina Trice
First RBI: Shannon Doepking double scored Tanya Callahan
First Run: Tonya Callahan scored on double by Shannon Doepking
First Stolen Base: Nicole Kajitani
First Error: Jen Lapicki (E-3)
First Sac Fly: Erinn Webb
First Bunt Single: Kenora Posey
First Pinch Runner: Nicole Kajitani pinch-ran for Chandra Mogan
First Pinch Hitter: Allison Fulmer pinch-hit for Kenora Posey
First to Strike Out the Side: Christina Trice (Bottom of 4th inning)
First Wild Pitch: Paige Affleck
First Passed Ball: Jessica Purcell
First Mound Visit: BYU Head Coach Gordon Eakin (Bottom of 1st inning)
First Pitching Change: Megan Rhodes replaced Ashton Ward (5th inning)
Game-Winning Pitcher in First Game: Ashton Ward
First Save: Megan Rhodes
Attendance for First Game: 495