March 22, 2012
By Brian Davis, Assistant Media Relations Director
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - In front of 3,135 fans at Rhoads Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala., the #11 Tennessee Lady Vol softball team (20-7, 4-4 Southeastern Conference) knocked off #1 for the second time in 2012 as the Big Orange utilized a pair of long balls while holding the Crimson Tide to its lowest hit total of the season (three) in ending #1 Alabama's (26-1, 7-1 SEC) 26-game winning streak, 5-2.
Tennessee sophomore pitcher Ellen Renfroe allowed two runs on just three hits, walked one and struck out seven during a complete-game effort in improving to 15-1 overall and 4-1 in league action.
Big Orange first baseman Melissa Brown (1-for-4, HR, three RBIs) blasted her fourth HR of the year, a tone setting, three-run blast off the left field fair pole during the top of the second. Junior shortstop Madison Shipman was 2-for-4 with her fourth big fly of the campaign and a pair of RBIs. Junior third baseman Raven Chavanne (2-for-3) and junior right fielder Kat Dotson (2-for-4) each posted two of UT's 10 total hits in the match-up.
"Tonight was a great evening and victory for our team," Lady Vol Co-Head Coach Ralph Weekly said. "Alabama is an amazing team, very strong. Both Karen (Co-Head Coach Weekly) and I are so proud of the way our team competed and how our pitchers threw in both games."
The Big Orange missed a golden opportunity in the top of the first following back-to-back infield singles by Chavanne and sophomore center fielder Tory Lewis to start the contest. Junior second baseman Lauren Gibson put a charge in a ball but her drive was tracked down in the outfield. A Lady Vol fielder's choice and a foul out down the left field line left a pair stranded, continuing the unfortunate UT theme from the doubleheader lid-lifter.
Tennessee got on the scoreboard first in the top of the second inning, nabbing a stunning 3-0 advantage via the long ball. Sophomore left fielder Melissa Davin got the outburst started with a lead-off single and soon moved to second as Burchell was struck by a pitch from Alabama starter Leslie Jury. Brown battled out of a 0-2 hole in the count over a 12-pitch at-bat before blasting a three-run HR that rattled off the left field fair pole to make it 3-0.
The Crimson Tide managed one-out base runners during both the second (Kaila Hunt single) and third innings (Jazlyn Lunceford walk), but couldn't string together anything against Renfroe. The Jackson, Tenn., pitcher even registered consecutive strikeouts of third baseman Courtney Conley and second baseman Jackey Branham to retire the side during the second frame.
A lead-off base knock from `Bama first baseman Cassie Reilly-Boccia christened a `Bama scoring outburst in the bottom of the fourth. With one retired in the inning, shortstop Kaila Hunt blasted her own two-run HR to left field on a 2-1 pitch from Renfroe, cutting Tennessee's advantage to 3-2.
The advantage quickly expanded back to a pair of runs on the first pitch of the top of the fifth as Shipman crushed a solo shot well out of Rhoads Stadium to make it 4-2. That ended Jury's stint in the circle as Amanda Locke came into the contest for a relief appearance. The new pitcher immediately settled things down with consecutive strikeouts before walking senior designated player Shelby Burchell with two retired. Brown lifted a towering fly to right but it proved a "can of corn" for Lunceford to end the frame.
Renfroe made it five straight Crimson Tide batters retired by racing through UA in order in the bottom of the fifth. `Bama's Dawson flew out to center, Lunceford became strikeout victim number four of the match-up and Renfroe then handled a high chopper from left fielder Kayla Braud before firing to first to conclude the frame.
Andrews began Tennessee's half of the sixth with an infield single and moved to second as Chavanne reached successfully on a throwing error by third baseman Conley. With one retired Gibson hit into a fielder's choice that cut down Chavanne at second, but stationed Lady Vols at the corners. Following a Tennessee stolen base, Shipman stepped into the batter's box and blasted a RBI base knock into the outfield, improving UT's lead to 5-2. Unfortunately, a strong throw to the plate from Jennifer Fenton cut down Gibson at the plate, preventing any further damage by the Big Orange.
With the Tide down to its last opportunity in the bottom of the seventh, Renfroe struck out both Hunt and Conley before inducing a foul pop-up from pinch hitter Danae Hays to conclude the UT triumph.