Feb. 24, 2012
By Brian Davis, Assistant Media Relations Director
CLEARWATER, Fla. - On a bright and sunny Friday afternoon at the NFCA Leadoff Classic in Clearwater, Fla., the #9 Tennessee Lady Vol softball team (6-3) managed to out-hit Winthrop by a 10-4 count, but watched as the Eagles rallied for a pair of runs during the seventh inning on the way to a 2-1 upset victory.
Sophomore shortstop Madison Shipman (1-for-3) granted the Big Orange a quick 1-0 advantage in the bottom of the first on an RBI single. Junior third baseman Raven Chavanne was 2-for-4 in her initial action of the 2012 campaign, while senior center fielder Ashley Andrews (2-for-4, run) and junior designated player Kat Dotson (2-for-4) each registered two of UT's 10 total hits.
Junior pitcher Ivy Renfroe (1-3) suffered the difficult loss in the circle, working 6.1 frames while allowing just one earned run on four hits with two walks and two strikeouts. In a relief appearance sophomore Ellen Renfroe struck out two over one inning of work, but uncorked two costly wild pitches that allowed the Eagles to plate both tallies.
"You absolutely can't walk the lead-off batter in the seventh inning, have two balls get past the catcher or leave 10 base runners stranded and expect to win a game," Lady Vol Co-Head Coach Ralph Weekly said.
After a quick one-two-three inning by Ivy Renfroe in the top of the first, Andrews granted the Big Orange the game's first base runner in the bottom half with a one-out single. Shipman stepped to the plate and ripped a shot through the infield off Winthrop hurler Chelsey Schoenfeldt as Andrews raced around from second to grant Tennessee a 1-0 advantage. Dotson followed with a base knock, wisely advancing all the way to second on an unsuccessful play to catch the lead runner at third. Unfortunately, a first-pitch ground ball to second left the duo stranded, but not before the Big Orange jumped to a quick lead.
Winthrop third baseman Alex White broke up an early string of five-straight Eagles retired by UT's 6-0 right-hander with a first-pitch shot to short center with two down in the top of the second. Ivy Renfroe didn't let the hit affect her, coercing a bouncer to short by second baseman Kristy Noble as Shipman made the play to retire the side.
The Lady Vols managed base runners in both the second (two-out single by sophomore left fielder Melissa Davin) and third (one-out base knock by junior second baseman Lauren Gibson) innings, but couldn't string together a full-scale rally as UT maintained its one-run lead.
For the second time in the contest Ivy Renfroe had managed to retire five straight Eagle hitters but first baseman Taylor Wright recorded a one-out free pass in the top of the fourth. Schoenfeldt ripped a shot to center for a single as Winthrop managed its first big offensive threat of the contest. Following a perfectly executed sacrifice bunt that advanced both base runners into scoring position, White bounced to short as Shipman made the play and a strong throw to first to leave the Eagle duo stranded.
Winthrop catcher Kelly Blea granted the Eagles a one-out base occupant during the top of the fifth via a bloop single that dropped in just over Shipman into left center. UT's defense wasted zero time in wiping out any potential scoring chance as Shipman, Gibson and Tarango pulled off a perfect 6-4-3 double play to end the frame.
A perfect bunt and a lot of hustle from Lady Vol sophomore pinch hitter Tory Lewis put the lead-off on for the Big Orange via an infield single in the bottom of the fifth. Junior pinch hitter Whitney Hammond slapped a shot to third that advanced Lewis up 60 feet into scoring position with one down and the top of the order coming up. Chavanne stepped to the dish, and despite falling behind 0-2 in the count, blooped her first hit of the 2012 campaign into the outfield, advancing to second on a throw to the plate. With Lewis at third and Chavanne stationed at second, Gibson was walked intentionally, loading the bags for Shipman. The Valencia, Calif., native ripped a liner on a 1-0 pitch that was caught on a tremendous diving snag by Noble as UT barely missed adding some valuable insurance to the scoreboard.
With Ivy Renfroe controlling Winthrop from the circle, Dotson got the Big Orange offense off to a great start in the bottom of the sixth via a lead-off infield base hit. After a sac bunt, senior right fielder Shelby Burchell absolutely ripped a liner that was somehow nabbed in the circle on a great stab by Schoenfeldt for the second out. A bouncer to second off the bat of freshman first baseman Cheyanne Tarango ended a once promising Lady Vol frame with the score still reading 1-0, UT.
Down to their final chance, the Eagles showed they wouldn't go quietly as Schoenfeldt opened the top of the seventh with a walk and was soon joined on the base paths via a bloop single down the right field line by center fielder Melanie Andrea. That ended Ivy Renfroe's time in the circle as her sister Ellen was summoned in for a relief appearance, attempting to get her second save of 2012. The new pitcher got White to hit into a fielder's choice that cut down the runner at second for the initial retirement of the frame. Unfortunately for the Lady Vols, a wild pitch allowed Schoenfeldt to race home from third and dead-lock the contest at 1-1. Ellen Renfroe got a strikeout of Noble for the second out, but uncorked another offering in the dirt that eluded her battery mate as White scored easily from third to grant Winthrop its first lead of the game at 2-1.
Chavanne became the potential tying run with one down in the top of the seventh as the Thousand Oaks, Calif., native singled through the infield and immediately swiped her first base of the year to reach scoring position. Andrews followed with an infield hit, putting a pair aboard and ending Schoenfeldt's stint in the circle as Natalie Becker entered in relief. After a fielder's choice cut down the lead UT runner at third, Shipman walked to pack the bags full with two outs. Dotson stepped into the batter's box facing a huge opportunity but lifted a routine pop-up to second as Winthrop pulled off the big upset.