Cougars take down 7th ranked Tennessee in softball 3-1
MT. PLEASANT, S.C. - The College of Charleston softball team knocked off No. 7 Tennessee, 3-1, at Patriots Point behind a complete game from sophomore pitcher Hope Klicker and late RBIs by freshmen Chandler Frisbie and Rebecca Mueller.
CofC (7-3) battled from behind with fifth and sixth-inning rallies to win its seventh straight contest. After surrendering a first-inning run, Klicker (Walla Walla, Wash.) would hold the Lady Vols to just three hits and no runs the rest of the way. She would end the game with six strikeouts.
"This is a great win for our team, for our program and for our athletic department," said head coach Shelly Hoerner. "To beat a top ranked team in the Lady Vols is incredible and the emotions are very high.
"Hope [Klicker] was feeling really good today and stayed composed. She believed in her teammates behind her and that was important for her to be able to keep us in the game.
"It was great to see our freshmen coming through in the clutch and getting those big RBIs in big spots late in the game. Our composure as a team helped us get this win, from the people on the field to our bench. Every play, every at bat that really drove us and helped us stay in the game. Anybody can beat anyone on any given day and that's the reason you play the game."
The Cougars were kept off the basepaths until a third-inning Kristy Giragosian (Charlotte, N.C.) single, but they triggered a comeback rally in the fifth and then seized the lead in the sixth inning.
Five different Cougars combined for CofC's five hits on the day.
Tennessee (14-3) got on the board in the first after Kat Dotson drew a walk and stole second before scoring on an RBI single sprayed back up the middle by Lauren Gibson.
The Lady Vols came into the game batting .363 as a unit and were limited to four-or-less hits for only the third time this season.
Giragosian was stranded after her third-inning single but drew a one-out walk to trigger a fifth-inning rally for the Cougars. Lizzy Vaughn (Placerville, Calif.) drove a single back up the middle and Mueller laced a double over the right fielder's head and into the corner to bring Giragosian to the plate and tie the game.
The Cougars picked up where they left off in the sixth and Hodgson nearly put them in front herself with a one-out drive to right which cleared the fence but hooked just outside of the foul pole. She followed up with a shot down the third base line which UT third baseman Raven Chavanne did everything she could to knock down but had no chance to get Hodgson at first. Frisbie then lined a double into the gap in right center which allowed Hodgson to score from first and put the Cougars up 2-1.
Chloe Fletcher (Land O'Lakes, Fla.) came into the game to pinch run for Frisbie on second base and immediately stole third base. The throw attempt from UT catcher Hannah Akamine sailed into left field and Fletcher scrambled to her feet and scurried home to provide an insurance run heading into the seventh.
The Lady Vols would put the tying run on base in the seventh but Klicker overcame the pressure and Hodgson fielded a sharp-hit grounder and stepped on third to end the threat and seal the victory.
"With Tennessee coming in ranked we knew it was going to be a tough game," said Klicker. "There were some first-inning jitters but after that I settled down and found my groove. Pitching from behind, I knew had nothing to lose and had faith in my teammates to come back. When we did, I knew we could do this and I trusted myself and I trusted my team."
The road ahead doesn't get a lot easier for the Cougars who will look to carry the big-win momentum into an arduous weekend at the Citrus Classic in Kissimmee, Fla. The Cougars are slated to see James Madison which is receiving votes in the USA Today / NFCA Top 25 poll as well as No. 9 Texas A&M, No. 13 Louisiana-Lafayette, Georgetown and Hofstra.
The Cougars kick off the weekend on Friday evening against James Madison at 5:45 p.m.