Jen Lapicki hits grand slam

On a cloudy and cold Saturday afternoon at Lee Softball Stadium, a dominant No. 5 Tennessee squad (12-1) posted its most runs in a single contest since March 14, 2006, (15-1, five inning win over Belmont) with a 14-0 five inning rout of Wagner at the Tennessee Classic.

Freshman catcher Jen Lapicki scored twice and accounted for five RBI, four coming on her first career grand slam during a six-run first inning. Sophomore outfielder Erinn Webb was 2-for-2 at the dish with a pair of RBI, while five additional Lady Vols each knocked in one run in the match-up.

Senior pitcher Megan Rhodes improved to 5-0 on the season after contributing three perfect innings of work and five Ks against the Seahawks. Big Orange junior Danielle Pieroni allowed one hit and no earned runs with a pair of strikeouts in two frames of relief.

Rhodes got off to a solid start in the circle against the Seahawks in the top of the first as center fielder Emily Pierce popped up to senior third baseman Tonya Callahan in foul territory outside of third for out number one. Both third baseman Kate Eshelman and shortstop Katie Stevens struck out against the Nashville, Tenn., hurler to conclude the frame.

Tennessee senior shortstop Kenora Posey led off the bottom half of the first frame by beating out an infield single to first. After Posey swiped her 12th bag of the season, freshman second baseman Chandra Mogan advanced the runner up 60 feet to third by grounding out to the right side of the infield. Callahan followed with a double off the wall down the right field line to bring Posey across for a quick 1-0 lead.

Senior designated player Shannon Doepking delivered a base knock up the middle to advance Callahan to third as the offensive assault continued. Freshman Natalee Weissinger was brought in to pinch run at first and immediately swiped second to join Callahan in scoring position. Sophomore first baseman Tiffany Huff was struck by an offering from Wagner hurler Danielle Wagoner to load the bags for the hot-hitting Webb. The sophomore right fielder came through in the clutch once again with a bouncing RBI single through the left side of the infield to up the count to 2-0.

Following a lineout to short off the bat of sophomore center fielder Anita Manuma for out number two, Lapicki stepped into the batter's box with the bags packed. The Oldwick, N.J., native hammered a deep drive to left field for a grand slam, the first for a Lady Vol since Doepking blasted one against Auburn on April 22, 2007.

A strikeout ended the inning, but not before six Big Orange runs had crossed the plate on five hits as UT batted around.

With UT hurler Rhodes on cruise control with four strikeouts through two innings, the Lady Vol offense re-ignited against Wagoner and eventual reliever Heather Ochoa. In the bottom of the second, 13 Lady Vol hitters came to the plate while scoring eight more tallies to grab a 14-0 lead.

Posey led-off the frame by being hit by a pitch and swiped second to reach scoring position. Junior pinch hitter Danielle Pieroni delivered a single up the middle to bring Posey across for a seven-run lead. Callahan drove a base knock to left, and pinch hitter Allison Fulmer walked to load the bases. A free pass to Webb that forced in a run signaled the end of the day for Wagoner as the Seahawks went to the bullpen to summon in Ochoa. She immediately walked Manuma and Lapicki to force in two more scores as UT went up 10-0.

Freshman left fielder Kelly Grieve and rookie pinch hitter Kelsey Stander posted RBI singles on the infield, and Wagner also committed a pair of throwing errors on those base knocks, eventually settling the count at 14-0 through two frames.

Despite leaving four base runners total combining both the third and fourth innings, the Tennessee offense wasn't really on the search for any more support on the scoreboard. That left the main action to the Big Orange pitching staff to close out the potential shutout. Rhodes rolled through the third to complete her three perfect innings of work to qualify for the victory. Pieroni permitted a two-out double to Wagner second baseman Andrea Lazzari in the top of the fifth, but induced a groundout to first base off the bat of designated player Margaret Gallia to complete the blanking.

After a contest versus Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday afternoon at 5 p.m., No. 5 UT will conclude the Tennessee Classic on Sunday at Lee Softball Stadium with a match-up against Virginia at noon.

Action will begin at 10 a.m. with Louisiana-Monroe taking on Wagner.

Live stats will be available through for all contests and, as always, periodic updates of the UT games will be recorded on the Lady Vol Hotline (865-974-8700, box #6).

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