Feb. 24, 2012
By Brian Davis, Assistant Media Relations Director
CLEARWATER, Fla. - Behind a season-high 15-hit offensive assault on Friday night at the NFCA Leadoff Classic in Clearwater, Fla., the #9 Tennessee Lady Vol softball team (7-3) rebounded from a tough defeat to crush the #17 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (7-4), 9-0.
In the circle sophomore starter Ellen Renfroe improved to a perfect 6-0 on the season by striking out eight and allowing just four hits over a complete-game shutout.
Junior third baseman Raven Chavanne was 3-for-4 with an RBI, sophomore center fielder Tory Lewis was a perfect 3-for-3 with a triple, two runs scored and an RBI, junior second baseman Lauren Gibson was 2-for-3 with her fifth HR of 2012 and a pair of RBIs, sophomore shortstop Madison Shipman was 2-for-4 with two RBIs and junior pinch hitter Morgan Fowler delivered a two-RBI double in her lone at-bat to improve to a perfect 2-for-2 in such opportunities this year. Freshman pinch hitter Hannah Trainer added her first collegiate base knock at Rocky Top late in the victory, senior first baseman Cat Hosfield went 1-for-4 with an RBI and senior catcher Ashley Andrews delivered two more hits, improving her season average to .438 overall.
"It's obvious we did not come out with the proper fire earlier today against Winthrop as we did tonight against a very good Georgia Tech team," Lady Vol Co-Head Coach Ralph Weekly said. "Tech had already beaten three ranked teams in #4 Oklahoma, #8 Arizona and #20 Nebraska this season, so it's obvious that they are very good. I told our team between games that they play to represent the University of Tennessee, and I didn't think we represented UT very well in the first game today. Tonight we came out fired up and got the job done, and that's what's important. We have a young team, and it's a continual learning situation."
The Big Orange threatened right off the bat with one retired in the top of the first as Andrews beat out an infield single and Gibson walked. Unfortunately, Shipman grounded out to short and junior designated player Kat Dotson flied out to shallow center as the UT duo was left stranded.
The Yellow Jackets got two-out singles in the first and second frames from catcher Alysha Rudnik and right fielder Katie Johnsky, respectively, but couldn't string together anything else.
Tennessee managed to break in front on the scoreboard in the top of the third inning against Georgia Tech hurler Hope Rush with a starting boost from the Lady Vol speed game. Lewis and Chavanne opened the frame with back-to-back bunt singles. After a perfect sacrifice bunt by sophomore left fielder Melissa Davin, Gibson and Shipman delivered consecutive RBI base knocks as the Big Orange nabbed a 2-0 advantage.
A one-out fielding miscue by the Lady Vols in the bottom of the third failed to result in any problems as an Ellen Renfroe strikeout and a perfect throw on a steal attempt from catcher Andrews to Gibson covering second concluded the inning.
The Big Orange speed game got a two-out scoring chance going in the top of the fourth behind consecutive singles, once again, from Lewis and Chavanne. Andrews laced a blooper into the outfield that dropped in for the Tumwater, Wash., native's second hit of the match-up. Lewis raced around third on the way to the plate but was gunned down via a strike from Georgia Tech center fielder Hayley Downs as UT's lead remained just two tallies.
After Ellen Renfroe blew through the Yellow Jackets in order in the bottom of the fourth with a pair of strikeouts, Gibson boosted Tennessee's advantage to 3-0 by blasting her fifth HR of the season.
Shipman demonstrated her impressive glove work at short to conclude Tech's half of the fifth, ranging to her right and leaping fully extended to nab a liner off the bat of Yellow Jacket left fielder Shannon Bear.
A lead-off walk by junior right fielder Melissa Brown to begin the top of the sixth christened what amounted to a big Lady Vol scoring outburst. A pair of illegal pitches by new Ga. Tech hurler Karly Fullem allowed senior pinch runner Holly Baker to advance to third with no one retired. Hosfield stepped into the batter's box and battled over eight pitches before ripping a 3-2 offering into the outfield to plate Baker for a 4-0 advantage. With the outfield playing in, the slap-hitting Lewis blasted a shot to the wall and easily rolled into third standing up for an RBI triple as the lead expanded to five tallies. Chavanne and Shipman soon continued the onslaught by lacing RBI singles as Tennessee raised its lead to a commanding 7-0.
Georgia Tech designated player Downs broke a streak of nine consecutive Yellow Jackets that had been retired by Renfroe by driving a two-out single back up the middle in the bottom of the sixth. The 6-0 right-hander responded to the base knock by picking up her seventh strikeout of the contest to conclude the inning as Rudnik went down swinging.
The scoreboard count was finalized at 9-0 in the top of the seventh as walks issued to Davin and Baker were cashed in on a one-out double to the wall by Fowler.
Despite allowing a one-out single in the bottom of the seventh, Renfroe finished off the contest with her eighth strikeout as the Big Orange secured the nine-run victory.