April 17, 2012
By Brian Davis, Assistant Media Relations Director
KNOXVILLE, Tenn.- On the strength of a two-RBI single by junior first baseman Melissa Brown and a clutch, fifth-inning solo HR from senior left fielder Shelby Burchell, the #8 Tennessee Lady Vol softball team (37-9) picked up its season-best 10th straight win, finishing off a Tuesday doubleheader sweep over Memphis at the Lee Softball Stadium, 3-2.
The pair of victories also improved the Big Orange's winning streak against in-state opposition to a remarkable 74 consecutive wins, dating back to a defeat against Middle Tennessee on March 22, 2000.
Brown was 2-for-3 at the plate with her eighth double of the season and a pair of RBIs, while junior right fielder Kat Dotson was a perfect 3-for-3 with a run scored. Junior third baseman Raven Chavanne was 1-for-3 with a tally and Burchell was 1-for-2 with her second HR of the campaign.
Sophomore pitcher Ellen Renfroe improved to 23-3 overall from the circle, allowing two runs on five hits with a pair of walks and 10 strikeouts in her 20th complete game of 2012.
"It's tough to play an in-state, mid-week doubleheader after playing in front of a national television audience with a sold-out stadium against a top-20 team this past weekend," Lady Vol Co-Head Coach Ralph Weekly said. "It's one of the challenges of our sport, and we didn't play the way we were capable of playing tonight. I'm happy we could get (two wins) done, but all phases of our game were subpar tonight."
Memphis got the lead-off on in the top of the first as shortstop Morgan Mosby walked to begin the contest. A strong throw by freshman catcher Hannah Akamine quickly cleared the base paths as Mosby was caught stealing second for the initial out. Third baseman Laura Curtis struck out swinging and designated player Libby Goranson grounded out to third to conclude the frame.
A one-out base knock by Dotson got the Lady Vol offense started in the bottom half of the first. A long foul out down the line by sophomore shortstop Madison Shipman allowed the UT speedster to advance 60 feet into scoring position. Dotson ended up stationed at third following a two-out wild pitch by UM starter Jordan Richwood, but she would remain right there as a groundout to second left her stranded.
The Tigers managed to take their first lead of the doubleheader in the top of the third against Renfroe. The outburst got started on an infield single by right fielder Ijiah Hargrove. Following a perfect sacrifice bunt and then a weak liner to short by Morgan Mosby, third baseman Laura Curtis ripped a base knock through the left side of the infield, placing UM runners at the corners with two down. Designated player Libby Goranson fell behind 0-2 before battling back to a full count against UT's 6-0 right hander. On the pay-off pitch the Tiger hitter blasted a shot off the left field wall for a two-RBI double as Memphis nabbed a 2-0 advantage.
Tennessee wasted no time answering back on the scoreboard, putting up a pair of runs of its own in the bottom of the third to dead-lock the contest at 2-2. Chavanne got things started with an infield single, and Dotson followed with her own bunt single as the "speed game" gave the Big Orange two on with no outs. After a groundout moved the runners up a base and a harmless popup, Richwood pegged Burchell on a 2-1 pitch to load the bases. Brown came through in the clutch, delivering a two-RBI single to knot the game up at two apiece.
Renfroe struck out the first two batters in the fourth, while Hargrove sent a liner to second that was gloved by Gibson to end the visitor half of the inning. The Orange and White would get a runner to third in the bottom half, but could not grab the lead. A one-out walk to senior Ashley Andrews and a sac bunt from Chavanne advanced Andrews to second. Another single from Dotson placed runners on the corners, but Shipman grounded out to end the inning.
With one retired in the top of the fifth, Memphis registered back-to-back infield singles, trying to reclaim the lead. Renfroe took care of Goranson via a strikeout in a seven-pitch battle, but a wild offering to first baseman Jessica Phillips allowed the two runners to take second and third. It proved all for naught as Renfroe notched her second strikeout of the inning, ending the Tiger threat.
One swing was all Tennessee needed to vault the Tigers on the scoreboard. After a pop out by Gibson to begin the bottom of the fifth, Burchell sent a 2-2 offering from Richwood just over the outfield fence for her second HR of the season, granting UT a 3-2 lead.
From there it was just up to Renfroe to complete the triumph, and the Jackson, Tenn., native did just that. She struck out three of the final six batters she faced, registering two K's during the sixth and one in the seventh. Morgan Mosby ended the game by sending a slow grounder to second, where Gibson corralled the ball before tossing it over to Brown to give Tennessee the doubleheader sweep.