April 29, 2012
By Brian Davis, Assistant Media Relations Director
KNOXVILLE, Tenn.- On Sunday afternoon in front of the second-largest crowd in Lee Softball Stadium history (1,843), the #6 Tennessee Lady Vol softball team (44-9, 22-6 Southeastern Conference) wrapped up its 2012 league campaign with its 13th-straight SEC win and 17th-consecutive triumph overall, sweeping its series over Ole Miss, 2-1.
Junior pitcher Ivy Renfroe picked up her 13th-straight decision victory and improved to 18-6 overall, allowing a single run on three hits with a walk and three strikeouts over 5.1 innings of relief. Sophomore Ellen Renfroe started the contest in the circle, permitting just one hit, walking three and K'ing one in 1.2 frames.
At the plate sophomore left fielder Melissa Davin continued her incredible weekend at the plate, going 2-for-3 with a RBI, improving her series totals to a .833 batting average with two HR's and six RBIs. Junior third baseman Raven Chavanne was a perfect 3-for-3 at the dish, reaching safely in her 33rd-consecutive match-up while raising her SEC-best batting average to .439. Junior right fielder Kat Dotson (1-for-3), senior designated player Shelby Burchell (1-for-3) and sophomore center fielder Tory Lewis (1-for-3) each contributed one of the Tennessee offense's eight total hits.
"Every win's a good win, no question about it," Lady Vol Co-Head Coach Ralph Weekly said. "In that one we struggled a little bit, and like I told you last night I knew we would. Ole Miss' Kendall Bruning threw a really good game today. We seemed to hit a dozen ground balls with runners in scoring position. I'm sure there are no worms left on this infield because we beat them up, but you know those things happen. Pretty good pitching, but our defense played great. Tory Lewis' catch to end the fifth inning was phenomenal."
Ole Miss wasted no time in getting a threat started immediately in the top of the first inning against Ellen Renfroe. Left fielder Brittany Broome walked with one down and was soon joined on the base paths via a single from Allison Brown that just eluded a leaping sophomore Madison Shipman at short. First baseman Londen Ladner hit a ball to third that Chavanne corralled routinely on one hop. The Thousand Oaks, Calif., native turned and stepped on the third base bag before firing a strike to junior Melissa Brown at first to conclude the threat via double play.
As she has done so often during her career in the Orange & White, Chavanne got the Lady Vol offense started christening UT's initial at-bat by beating out an infield single. Following a sacrifice bunt from Dotson, Shipman drew a walk off Ole Miss starter Kendall Bruning and then junior second baseman Lauren Gibson reached on a fielding error by second baseman Corrine Doornberg, packing the bases. Davin stepped into the batter's box with two retired in the frame and managed a RBI single on the infield as Shipman crossed easily from 60 feet away for a 1-0 advantage.
After each team left a pair of base runners stranded during the second, Ole Miss managed to dead-lock the contest at 1-1 in the top of the third off two base hits against Lady Vol reliever Ivy Renfroe. Broome got things going with a one-out walk and a steal of second, moving to third on a base knock to center off the bat of Brown. Ladner hit a ball to second that was nabbed on the short hop by UT's Gibson. The Pasadena, Md., native fired a strike to the plate as senior catcher Ashley Andrews apllied the tag to preserve Tennessee's one-run advantage. Unfortunately for the Big Orange, third baseman Cali Overbeck hit the very next pitch up the middle for a RBI as Brown scooted home to tie the count at 1-1.
Consecutive singles from Burchell and Davin got a scoring chance going for the Lady Vols with one out in the bottom of the third. Junior first baseman Brown stepped to the plate and ripped an unfortunate liner to short that was caught on the fly and then turned into a twin-killing, as Burchell was doubled off at second to end the threat.
Hardin christened Ole Miss' half of the fourth with a lead-off single through the left side of the infield and quickly moved into scoring position via a perfect sacrifice bunt by catcher Marina Parra. Following a fly out to center for the second retirement, Parra swiped third to move within 60 feet of pay dirt. She would remain right there, however, as Ivy Renfroe struck out Broome to leave the runner stranded.
A miscue on Ole Miss shortstop Allison Brown on a grounder by Andrews got what proved to be the decisive rally started for the Big Orange in the bottom of the fourth. Following a perfect bunt single off the bat of Lewis, Chavanne advanced the base runners into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. That effort paid dividends with two retired as the Rebel coaching staff decided to walk Shipman intentionally with a bag open. On the first offering of the intentional walk, the ball got away from Parra behind the plate, escaping to the backstop as Andrews scored easily from third to give the Orange & White a 2-1 advantage.
The nation's top-rated defense made itself visible with an Ole Miss runner aboard and two down in the top of the fifth. Designated player Erinn Jayjohn blasted a drive to deep left field as Davin attempted to track the ball back towards the Lee Stadium fence. Out of nowhere, UT center fielder Lewis raced into the picture, helping out her outfield cohort with a back-handed running catch against the wall for an impressive third out.
That proved the last gasp for the UM offense against Ivy Renfroe as the 6-0 right-hander retired all six batters she faced over the sixth and seventh innings as Tennessee concluded its league campaign at 22-6 overall.