Softballers split twinbill

Stephanie Humphrey pitched her third complete game of the season as the Lady Vol softball team salvaged a split of Thursday's doubleheader with Princeton by taking an 11-5 triumph in the nightcap at Tyson Park. Humphrey (Knoxville, Tenn.) threw a season-high 132 pitches and picked up her sixth straight win to move her mark to 6-2.

Freshman Erin Snyder carried a perfect game into the fifth inning and finished with a one-hitter as Princeton took the opener 6-0. Snyder (1-1) notched her first collegiate win by striking out a career-high 14 batters.

Trailing 2-0 in the nightcap, Tennessee plated four runs in the bottom of the first and exploded for six more runs in the third en route to its 10th home win, one more than all of last spring. Ralph and Karen Weeklyís club is now 23-11 overall, while the Tigers are 2-4.

''It was important for us to come back and get a win after the first game,'' said Humphrey. ''We didnít play our best today but were able to come up with enough timely hits to pull out one victory.''

The Tigers struck for a pair of runs on a Lady Vol error with two out in the bottom of the first. Freshman Lindsay Motel, senior Kristin Del Calvo and sophomore Melissa Finley each singled with one down to fill the bases for Princeton. Humphrey caught freshman Erin Snyder looking at strike three for the second out but rookie Cristina Cobb-Adams' fly ball into right field was dropped, allowing the visitors to take a 2-0 advantage.

The Lady Vols roared back with four runs in the bottom of the inning, highlighted by a three-run homer from junior Lauren Mattox (Charlotte, N.C.). Senior Blaine Teasley (Tucson, Ariz) ripped a leadoff double and would advance to third on freshman Mandie Fishbackís (Banks, Ore.) pop out. Freshman Kristi Durant (Placentia, Calif.) then singled up the middle to plate Teasley with Tennesseeís first run of the twinbill. Sophomore Amber Rhinehart (Citrus Heights, Calif.) deposited her team-high eighth double of the campaign into center field before Mattox slugged her fourth homer of 2003 to move the Lady Vols in front, 4-2.

The hosts would tack on six more runs in the third, aided by three hits and two Tiger throwing mistakes, to assume a commanding 10-2 lead. Fishback and Durant opened the stanza with consecutive singles, chasing Finley from the circle in favor of junior Wendy Bingham. After Rhinehart flew out to right, moving Fishback to third, Mattox drew a walk to load the sacks full of Lady Vols. Junior Angela Brewer (East Ridge, Tenn.) earned a base on balls to give UT a three-run cushion and then freshman Chemil Washingtonís (Vancouver, Wash.) grounder, which would have forced Durant at the dish, was thrown wide of the catcher, allowing both Durant and Mattox to score.

Junior Ellisha Humphrey (Knoxville, Tenn.) was struck by a pitch to fill up the bases and a wild relay throw on freshman Sarah Feketeís (Maryville, Tenn.) slap single enabled Brewer and Washington to bring the margin to 9-2. Snyder, who had fired a one-hitter in game one, moved into the circle and uncorked a wild pitch, allowing Humphrey to race home with another run for the Orange and White.

Senior Erin Valocik started Princeton's fourth turn at the plate with a double and sophomore Ty Ries followed with another two-bagger to help the Tigers cut into the deficit. The visitors later pulled to within 10-4 the following inning on Finley's second homer of the day, a solo shot over the right field fence. Ellisha Humphrey countered with her second dinger of the year in the bottom of the stanza to boost the score to 11-4 before a double by Cobb-Adams with two down in the seventh brought home Finley to secure the final margin.

Durant led the way for Tennessee with a 2-for-4 performance in which she scored twice, while Fekete was 2-for-3 out of the ninth spot. Humphrey earned her first victory since March 1 by scattering eight hits and five runs (three earned) with seven strikeouts.

The Lady Vols return to Southeastern Conference play Saturday, hosting Mississippi State (22-10/2-4 SEC) in a 1 p.m. doubleheader.

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