Head coach Jim Beitia's Lady Vol softball team capped a successful weekend at the Triangle Classic by turning back Virginia, 4-1, in the event's championship game on Sunday afternoon. Rookie southpaw Leigh Ann Ellis limited the Cavaliers to just three hits to earn her first collegiate win and the Lady Vols first tournament crown of 2001.
The Lady Vols claimed five of six contests over the three-day event, including a thrilling 1-0 decision over North Carolina in the semifinal and notched other blankings of Illinois (4-0), Rhode Island (12-0) and Liberty (2-0). Beitia's squad is now just shy of the .500 mark at 7-8, while the Wahoos suffered their first loss after five straight victories.
With a perfect 2-0 mark that featured a pair of one-hit shutouts and 15 strikeouts, junior right-hander Nicole Borg was tabbed as the Most Valuable Player of the 24-team event.
Other All-Tourney selections for Tennessee included sophomore pitcher Stephanie Humphrey (2-0, 0.00 ERA, 15 strikeouts in 14 innings) and senior shortstop Annie Fletcher (.375 batting average, three runs, two stolen bases). On the weekend, the Lady Vol pitching staff registered a scant 0.54 ERA and limited its foes to a .175 batting average.
I've felt this year's team has a chance to be a very special team, and this weekend they certainly played like it, said Beitia. On the days that we all pull together, we can beat any team in the country.
I sense that we are now beginning to fully understand the power of the team concept, and even though we will be playing eight tough games in California, I foresee great things ahead for the Lady Vols.
Against the Cavaliers, UT broke into the scoring column on senior Melissa Radley's first-inning single that plated classmate Janette Koshell.
The Lady Vols then pushed across two more runs on a pair of hits in the second to seize a 3-0 lead.
Ellis had surrendered only one hit entering the fifth, but the Cavaliers were able to break the shutout when Heather Field was able to narrow the gap to 3-1 when she scored on Jill Bumler's fielder's choice.
UT tacked on an additional insurance run in the home half of the sixth off reliever Erin Allinder to forge ahead, 4-1 after Low scored on an error.
Ellis (1-2) recorded her second complete-game effort by scattering three hits, striking out three and giving up two walks. Paced by Low's 2-for-3 effort, UT collected six hits off the duo of Edwards (5.0 IP, eight walks, six strikeouts, five hits, three runs) and Allinder (1.0 IP, one run, one hit).