March 23, 2012
By Brian Davis, Assistant Media Relations Director
STARKVILLE, Miss. - On Friday evening in the series opener at the MSU Softball Stadium, junior third baseman Raven Chavanne barely missed hitting for the cycle, sophomore shortstop Madison Shipman and sophomore leftfielder Melissa Davin each knocked in two runs and junior first baseman Melissa Brown homered as the #11 Tennessee Lady Vol softball team (21-7, 5-4 Southeastern Conference) raced past Mississippi State (18-13, 3-8 SEC), 8-0 (5 inn.).
Chavanne led UT's eight-hit offensive attack by going 3-for-4 at the plate with a double and a triple. Shipman was a perfect 1-for-1 with a walk and two RBIs and Davin was 1-for-3 with a pair of RBIs. For Brown the solo shot marked her career-best fifth HR of the campaign. Senior Cat Hosfield was also credited with her fifth RBI of the year via a pinch-hit bloop single during the top of the fifth.
In the circle sophomore pitcher Ellen Renfroe improved to 16-1 overall and 5-1 in SEC action, allowing just three hits, walking three and striking out eight over her 12th solo shutout of 2012.
"I was proud of our kids with the way they came out tonight and played tough in a difficult environment against a very good Mississippi State team," Lady Vol Co-Head Coach Ralph Weekly said. "I think we got some timely hits, and that proved to be the difference in the game."
The Big Orange wasted no time getting to a quick lead on the scoreboard, putting up a two-spot in the top of the first. Chavanne got the outburst started with a lead-off triple over a drawn-in outfield, rolling into third standing up with her second three-bagger of the year. With one retired junior right fielder Kat Dotson was struck by a pitch, placing Lady Vol speedsters at the corners and setting the stage for a RBI single off the bat of Shipman as Tennessee nabbed a 1-0 lead. The advantage soon improved to a pair of runs as the lead runner Dotson swiped home against the battery of MSU pitcher Stephanie Becker and catcher Ka'ili Smith.
Smith christened Mississippi State's half of the initial frame by drawing a walk off Renfroe. With center fielder Jessica Offutt stationed at first following a fielder's choice that retired the lead occupant, the MSU runner swiped second and also moved to third as an errant throw rolled into center. The Bulldog located 60 feet from pay dirt didn't seem to bother UT's 6-0 right-hander as Renfroe struck out third baseman Sam Lenahan. Designated player Brittany Bell attempted a quick bunt but popped the ball up to her right towards the Lady Vol dugout. Brown raced over quickly from her defensive position at first and made a terrific running basket catch to end the frame with the MSU runner left stranded at third.
The `Dogs placed two more on the base paths during the bottom of the second via a one-out single through the left side by left fielder Jessica Cooley and a two-out catcher's interference call with shortstop Erin Nesbit batting. Following a MSU double steal, Renfroe again fought off a threat by catching Brittany Gates swinging for the third Big Orange K of the match-up.
Chavanne again got Tennessee's offense started in the top of the third, beginning the frame by lacing a 0-1 pitch into the gap for a double. With one down and Dotson standing at first after getting struck for the second time in the match-up by Becker, Shipman hammered a drive to the wall that proved plenty deep enough for a sacrifice fly as Chavanne easily trotted home to improve the Big Orange advantage to 3-0.
After Mississippi State left a pair stranded on the bags in the bottom of the third, UT's Brown added to the Lady Vol lead with two retired in the top of the fourth. The Valencia, Calif., native blasted a 3-2 pitch from Becker out of the MSU Softball Stadium to make it 4-0. A walk issued to senior catcher Ashley Andrews, a Becker wild pitch and Chavanne's third hit of the evening via a perfect infield slap single, stationed runners at the corners with two down. The Tennessee speed game again manufactured another tally as Andrews recorded UT's second swipe of home during the match-up as the scoreboard showed a 5-0 advantage.
With Renfroe keeping the Bulldog offense off the board through four frames of effort, the Lady Vols continued adding to their advantage in the top of the fifth. A lead-off bunt single from Dotson and walks by both Shipman and senior pinch hitter Shelby Burchell packed the bases full for Davin. The Fresno., Calif., product laced a drive into the gap that was missed on dual diving attempts by both Offutt and Gates. With Burchell forced to hold up briefly between first and second on the fly ball, Davin accidentally ran past her teammate on the base paths for an automatic out, but received credit for a single and two RBI to make it 7-0. A fielding miscue on a bouncer by Brown set the stage for an RBI bloop single off the bat of Hosfield as the advantage expanded to eight tallies.
With Mississippi State suddenly down to its final offensive chance to avoid the run-rule, Offutt granted the Maroon and White some brief life via a one-out walk. That proved all they would get against Renfroe, however, as Lenahan hit into a fielder's choice and Bell struck out looking to end the five-inning match-up.