March 16, 2012
By Brian Davis, Assistant Media Relations Director
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - On Friday night at Bogle Park in Fayetteville, Ark., two RBI's from both sophomore shortstop Madison Shipman and senior utility player Shelby Burchell helped back a two-hit shutout from sophomore pitcher Ellen Renfroe as the #9 Tennessee Lady Vol softball team (18-5, 2-2 Southeastern Conference) nabbed the series opener from the Arkansas Razorbacks (17-8, 1-5 SEC), 8-0 (5 inn.)
Shipman was 1-for-2 at the plate with her team-best sixth double of the season, two runs scored and a pair of RBI's, while Burchell was a perfect 1-for-1 during a pinch-hit appearance with a two-bagger and two RBI's. Junior first baseman Melissa Brown (2-for-3, RBI) and junior third baseman Raven Chavanne (2-for-4, run, RBI) each posted two of the UT offense's seven total hits.
In the circle Ellen Renfroe improved to 13-1 overall, allowing just two hits, walking two and striking out eight Razorbacks over 5.0 innings of effort.
"I thought Ellen started off a little slow tonight, but she really picked it up as the game went along," Lady Vol Assistant/Pitching Coach Marty McDaniel said. "You know she made a couple of mistakes, and Arkansas really hit the ball well, but she definitely threw some nice pitches back-to-back tonight. Obviously, Arkansas will come out tomorrow really fired up. The SEC is so tough that you always have to take things one game at a time. Tomorrow's a different day, and you've got to have short term memory about what happened tonight. They'll be a different team tomorrow, and so will we."
Tennessee's offense wasted zero time getting started in the top of the first, getting ignited via the speed game. Chavanne started things off with one of her patented bunt singles and then swiped her team-leading eighth base of the season. Junior right fielder Kat Dotson joined her teammate on the base paths via a walk against Arkansas starter Ciara Clampett. The speed duo moved up 60 feet each on a bouncer to first from junior second baseman Lauren Gibson, setting the stage for a long sacrifice fly off the bat of Shipman as Chavanne crossed from third for a 1-0 advantage.
From the circle for the Big Orange, Renfroe exerted her dominance immediately with back-to-back strikeouts of third baseman Chloe Oprzedek and shortstop Clarisa Navarro. Despite issuing a two-out walk to left fielder Devon Wallace, the 6-0 right-hander rebounded immediately to strikeout the side by K'ing right fielder Sierra Bronkey.
After the Lady Vols left a duo in scoring position during the top of the second, Arkansas managed a base runner in the bottom of the second via a UT infield throwing error. With UA designated player Ashley Martindale at second following the miscue, Renfroe responded by striking out catcher Jayme Gee and inducing a fly ball to left from first baseman Megan Pearson to leave the occupant in scoring position.
The advantage expanded to 3-0 during the top of the third as a one-out walk by Gibson was cashed in on a lined RBI double to the wall off the bat of Shipman. With the Valencia, Calif., native within 60 feet of pay dirt after an unsuccessful play at the plate, freshman designated player Cheyanne Tarango hit a bouncer to short that was fielded by Arkansas' Navarro. Her throw home appeared as if would have been in time to get the Big Orange runner, but was airmailed over the catcher and to the backstop as Shipman slid in with UT's third tally.
The Razorbacks registered their initial hit of the contest with two down in the bottom of the third as Navarro drove a double over junior Whitney Hammond's head in center and off the wall. As is often the case, Renfroe didn't let the hit phase her, catching Wallace swinging for her fifth strikeout of the night.
A lead-off single from Gibson in the top of the fifth christened what proved to be the decisive Big Orange scoring outburst. Shipman followed with a high fly ball to right that was dropped for an error, putting runners at second and third. With one retired Brown laced a shot through the infield for an RBI as Tennessee improved its lead to 4-0. Burchell soon stepped into the batter's box in a pinch-hit opportunity and blasted a two-RBI double to the wall as the advantage expanded to six tallies. Re-entered into the contest to run, Andrews soon pulled off a swipe of home and then Chavanne added an RBI base knock, setting the final offensive count at 8-0.
On a deep drive to left from UA's Pearson beginning the bottom of the fifth, Lady Vol senior defensive substitute Holly Baker made a terrific "web gem" catch near the wall to prevent extra bases. Following a one-out walk by Reese and a steal of second, Renfroe finished the run-rule contest off in style with back-to-back K's of Oprzedek and Navarro as Tennessee took the series opener.
The #9 Tennessee softball squad returns to action in its series against Arkansas at Bogle Park in Fayetteville, Ark., on Sat., March 17, at 1 p.m. CT. The time for Sunday's series finale has been altered because of UT travel issues with first pitch now slated for Noon CT.