Feb. 11, 2012
By Brian Davis, Assistant Media Relations Director
TEMPE, Ariz.- On Saturday night in Kajikawa Classic action at the Farrington Stadium in Tempe, Ariz., sophomore shortstop Madison Shipman doubled in two runs, junior second baseman Lauren Gibson blasted a solo home run and sophomore pitcher Ellen Renfroe scattered seven total hits in her third consecutive shutout as the #9 Tennessee softball team (4-1) knocked off #1 and defending national champion Arizona State (4-2), 3-0.
This marks the second straight season that the Big Orange have downed a #1 squad after defeating top-ranked Alabama, 4-1, back on March 22, 2011, in Knoxville, and the program's fourth victory over a #1 or #2-ranked team over the last two seasons.
Renfroe (4-0) still hasn't allowed a run over four appearances, posting a perfect 0.00 ERA in 24 innings of work with 36 strikeouts. Against the Sun Devils, the Jackson, Tenn., native walked only one and struck out six in the complete-game effort.
For Gibson the big fly was her second of the campaign and provided valuable seventh inning insurance off Arizona State All-American pitcher Dallas Escobedo (37-3 overall in 2011).
"Our team played great tonight against a very strong Arizona State team with All-American Dallas Escobedo in the circle," Lady Vol Co-Head Coach Ralph Weekly said. "I was especially pleased with the players who stepped into roles normally covered by Raven Chavanne and Kat Dotson. Tory Lewis gave us a big boost right from the start, and Ashley Andrews was fantastic.
"This was a great atmosphere tonight with over 1,300 fans in attendance. Our team responded to what adversity the crowd provided, especially our defense, which turned a big 6-4-3 double play and provided two incredible catches in the outfield. I told the team before the game that a wounded animal is often the most dangerous animal, and we've been wounded so far this season.
"I also want to say how much I appreciated the brief ceremony ASU held prior to the game, honoring me for the Hall of Fame and for being an Arizona State grad. It meant a lot to me."
Back-to-back walks to open the contest by sophomore center fielder Tory Lewis and senior third baseman Ashley Andrews got the Lady Vols off to a great start against ASU All-American pitcher Escobedo in the top of the first. In fact, Andrews' at-bat was incredible as the Tumwater, Wash., native battled over 14 pitches, fouling off nine offerings, before drawing the free pass. Following a perfect sacrifice bunt by Gibson, Shipman blasted a double into the gap for a pair of RBI's as Tennessee nabbed a quick 2-0 advantage.
The Sun Devil offense attempted to get right back on level terms in the bottom half of the first as shortstop Katelyn Boyd and first baseman Christina Zambrana opened the frame with back-to-back singles. Renfroe bore down, however, getting Annie Lockwood to fly out to center, striking out U.S. Junior National Team member Amber Freeman and getting center fielder Elizabeth Caporuscio to ground out to one of UT's very own U.S. Junior National Team members freshman first baseman Cheyanne Tarango.
Tennessee missed a big two-out scoring opportunity in the top of the third as a walk by Tarango, a single that rolled to the wall off the bat of senior right fielder Shelby Burchell and junior third baseman Melissa Brown getting hit by a pitch loaded the bases full of Lady Vols. Unfortunately, a strikeout left the bags packed and kept ASU trailing by just a 2-0 count.
With one down in the bottom of the third, Boyd drove a ball to deep center that just eluded a leaping Tory Lewis at the wall. The ASU shortstop rolled easily into third on the play for a stand-up triple. Amazingly, and a credit to Renfroe, she never moved an inch as Zambrana struck out swinging, and right fielder Annie Lockwood flew out to mid-right to end the threat.
UT again had a prime scoring chance in the top of the fourth go awry after consecutive one-out singles by Lewis and Andrews as a foul out and fly ball to right left led the duo stranded at first and second.
Freeman, the initial Sun Devil batter of the bottom of the fourth, crushed a pitch to deep left that looked as if it might leave Farrington Stadium. Newly entered defensive sub Holly Baker tracked the towering fly back to the fence, jumped up and caught the ball at the very top of the wall to record her own personal "web gem." Just three batters later with Sam Parlich stationed at first after a walk, Burchell contributed her own "web gem" grab with a basket catch on the run in short right center to end the frame.
ASU designated player Bailey Wigness christened the bottom of the fifth with a perfect slap single out in front of the plate. Left fielder Taylor Haro lifted a short pop behind second that was tracked down on a great back-handed catch by second baseman Gibson for the initial out of the frame. From there Boyd hit into a fielder's choice to third as Andrews tossed to Gibson covering second to retire the lead runner, and then Zambrana chopped back to the circle for the third out.
A base knock up the middle by Lockwood in the bottom of the sixth marked the second consecutive frame that the Sun Devils had gotten their lead-off batter on base. Freeman got ahead of Renfroe in the count 3-1 before bouncing a ball to short. Shipman handled the sphere, tossed to Gibson at second and she fired on to Tarango at first for a huge 6-4-3 double play. That de-railed the ASU threat as Caporuscio grounded harmlessly to second, retiring the side.
After helping on the decisive defensive play of the sixth frame, Gibson blasted a pitch out of Farrington Stadium with one out in the top of the seventh, improving Tennessee's advantage to 3-0.
A full-swinging cue ball off the end of the bat from ASU third baseman Haley Steele checked up just out in front of the plate for a lead-off base hit in the bottom of the seventh. The runner failed to faze Renfroe as she coerced a pop-up behind the dish that was caught by freshman catcher Hannah Akamine and then struck out Wigness and pinch hitter Nikole Afusia to end the huge Lady Vol victory.