March 18, 2012
By Brian Davis, Assistant Media Relations Director
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - On Sunday afternoon at Bogle Park in Fayetteville, Ark., the #9 Tennessee Lady Vol softball squad (19-6, 3-3 Southeastern Conference) got a solo HR from junior second baseman Lauren Gibson, a RBI triple from junior right fielder Kat Dotson and another three-hit shutout from sophomore pitcher Ellen Renfroe in topping Arkansas (18-9, 2-6 SEC), 2-0.
Junior third baseman Raven Chavanne (2-for-3) and senior catcher Ashley Andrews (2-for-3, run) each recorded two of Tennessee's eight total hits in the match-up. Gibson's HR was her team-leading eighth of the campaign, while Dotson was 1-for-4 with the RBI triple. Sophomore shortstop Madison Shipman was 1-for-2 with two intentional walks while freshman designated player Cheyanne Tarango was 1-for-3.
Renfroe walked two and struck out eight during her 13th complete game effort and 11th solo shutout of the campaign. The 6-0 right hander also improved her season mark to 14-1 overall and 3-1 in SEC action.
Tennessee managed a pair of base runners in the top of the first but left a pair stranded on the bags. Chavanne started off the frame by beating out an infield single and quickly swiped second to reach scoring position. With one retired the Arkansas coaching staff made the decision to intentionally walk Shipman, and the move paid off as an infield pop-up and a fly ball concluded the threat with no damage.
The Razorbacks got off to a promising start of their own in the bottom of the first as third baseman Chloe Oprzedek laced a shot down into the right field corner for a one-out triple. Shortstop Clarisa Navarro bounced a ball to the left of Chavanne at third, but UT's Thousand Oaks, Calif., native managed to corral the sphere on the way by. She pivoted quickly and fired a strike to the plate as catcher Andrews applied the tag to keep UA off the board. Renfroe ended the once promising Arkansas threat by catching designated player Sierra Bronkey looking at strike three.
Singles from both Tarango and Andrews granted the Big Orange another scoring opportunity in the top of the second, but again the big hit just wouldn't materialize. Chavanne blasted a promising shot deep into the outfield, but it was caught near the warning track as the Lady Vols' left stranded count expanded to four over the opening two frames.
Renfroe settled things down from the circle in the bottom of the third. The Jackson, Tenn., product posted back-to-back strikeouts of center fielder Tori Mort and left fielder Devon Wallace before getting a slow roller to second to end the quick half-inning.
The Big Orange finally got on the board in the top of the fourth as Gibson blasted her eighth HR of the campaign via a solo shot out of Bogle Park for a 1-0 lead.
Beginning the top of the fifth, a dropped throw at first base allowed UT's Andrews to reach safely. A perfect bunt off Chavanne's bat placed a pair of speedsters on the base paths with still no one retired. Unfortunately, back-to-back strikeouts and a pop-up back to Arkansas starting pitcher Chelsea Cohen in the circle left the duo where they stood.
A one-out walk by UA catcher Jayme Gee in the bottom of the fifth ended a string of nine consecutive Razorbacks retired by Renfroe. The free pass didn't matter, however, as the Lady Vol pitcher eventually struck out the side, recording K's of first baseman Megan Pearson, second baseman Maddie Reese and Mort to up her total to seven over the initial five frames.
Arkansas left fielder Devon Wallace christened the bottom of the sixth with a promising blooper into right center. Newly entered into the match-up for her defensive prowess, sophomore center fielder Tory Lewis raced over from her defensive position and slid to make a terrific "web gem" basket catch, keeping the Razorback lead-off hitter from reaching. From there Renfroe induced consecutive ground balls from Oprzedek and Navarro to maintain UT's tenuous one-run advantage heading into the final inning.
The Big Orange got some valuable insurance on the scoreboard in the top of the seventh, and it all started with a lead-off base knock from Andrews. A passed ball on Arkansas' catcher Gee and a sac bunt by Chavanne moved Andrews within 60 feet of pay dirt. The Tumwater, Wash., native was soon cashed in on a RBI triple off the bat of Dotson as Tennessee improved its lead to 2-0.
Bronkey kept UA hopes alive in the bottom of the seventh by blooping a lead-off single just in front of Baker in left field. Once Geile followed with a base knock just under Renfroe's glove and through the middle of the infield, the Razorbacks had the potential winning run at the plate with still none retired. Pearson lifted a shot into right center field that was tracked down on the run by junior Whitney Hammond for the first out. Gee grounded to Shipman at short and then Renfroe completed the contest in style by posting her eighth strikeout as Tennessee took the series, two-games-to-one.