May 19, 2012
By Brian Davis, Assistant Media Relations Director
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - With its back against the wall for the second time on Saturday in front of 1,627 fans at the Lee Softball Stadium, the #5 University of Tennessee Lady Vol softball team (48-11) again staved off elimination in dominating fashion, downing Miami (Ohio), 8-0 in six innings, to advance to Sunday's championship round against Virginia Tech.
The Big Orange will begin its Sunday at 1:30 p.m. ET against the Hokies, needing to beat VT twice in order to advance to next weekend's NCAA Super Regional against the winner of the Athens (Ga.) Regional.
Junior right fielder Kat Dotson (2-for-4, two runs, steal), sophomore shortstop Madison Shipman (2-for-4, triple, two RBIs) and junior second baseman Lauren Gibson (2-for-4, two runs, double, RBI) each posted two of Tennessee's 13 total hits off RedHawk pitcher Jessica Simpson, Friday night's victor over UT. Junior first baseman Melissa Brown was 1-for-3 with two RBIs, junior third baseman Raven Chavanne was 1-for-3 with a run, a RBI and her team-best 32nd stolen base and sophomore center fielder Tory Lewis doubled as part of a 1-for-3 effort.
In the circle junior Ivy Renfroe improved to 21-8 overall, picking up her second win of the day by scattering five hits and striking out seven over 4.2 scoreless innings of relief. Sophomore starter Ellen Renfroe walked a pair and posted a K in 1.1 frames of work.
"Well we said last night we weren't done yet," Lady Vol Co-Head Coach Ralph Weekly said. "These girls have a lot of resolve, and a lot of ability, and a lot of talent. They came out today determined. We had a plan to go against both pitchers, and they stayed within that plan, which is the key to winning at this juncture of a season. I thought both of our opponents played well and deserve a lot of credit, but I think you saw Tennessee Softball today."
After Tennessee left Shipman stranded at third following a two-out triple in the bottom of the first, the Lady Vols watched as Miami threatened by getting a pair on in the top of the second. Ellen Renfroe issued consecutive walks to catcher Kayla Ledbetter and first baseman Allie Larrabee with just one down, forcing a move to the bullpen to summon in sister Ivy for another relief appearance. Much as in the UAB victory earlier on Saturday, the change in the circle paid immediate dividends as the elder Renfroe struck out designated player Megan Mattera and second baseman Kristy Arbour back-to-back to conclude the half-frame with no damage,
The Big Orange offense finally got something started against Simpson starting the top of the third as senior catcher Ashley Andrews (1-for-1) got things going by beating out an infield single. Lewis followed immediately with a double into the gap, placing a pair in scoring position with the top of the UT order coming up. A high chopper off the bat of Chavanne looked as if it might be enough to get the Lady Vols on the scoreboard, but a quick charging grab and toss to the plate by Miami shortstop Kylie McChesney cut down Andrews to preserve the 0-0 dead-lock. With two outs and Shipman facing a two-strike count, Simpson uncorked a wild offering that allowed Lewis the chance to race across from third, granting Tennessee a one-run lead.
Looking for an immediately offensive answer, MU right fielder Kirstie Fehrenbach singled on the infield and center fielder Jordan McElroy hit a blooper into left center as the RedHawks boasted a pair on base with just one down in the bottom of the third. Left fielder Shanyn McIntyre hit a liner to second that Gibson raced over to nab near her shoe tops. The Pasadena, Md., native quickly back-handed a toss to Shipman covering the second base bag for a huge, inning-ending double play.
Gibson christened the top of the fourth by blasting a routine drive to deep left that was dropped by Miami's McIntyre for a three-base error. With still no one retired, Burchell lifted a blooper just onto the outfield grass that fell in for a RBI as Tennessee's lead expanded to two tallies.
Ivy Renfroe exerted her control on the proceedings in a major way in the bottom of the fourth, striking out third baseman Daniela Torres, catcher Kayla Ledbetter and first baseman Allie Larrabee in order to lift her total to six over 2.2 frames of work.
The Big Orange speed game manufactured another run in the top of the fifth as Dotson reached via a one-out single. The Savannah, Ga., native quickly took off for second, swiping her 13th base of the year and moving to third on a throwing miscue on the play. Shipman followed by chopping a base knock through the infield for an RBI as Dotson raced home from 60 feet away to grant UT a 3-0 advantage.
Miami wasn't done yet, registering a two-out scoring threat in the bottom of the fifth as McChesney singled on the infield and stole second to reach scoring position. Fehrenbach slapped a base knock to right that Dotson corralled on a bounce. She came up firing to the plate, forcing MU's lead runner to halt 60 feet from pay dirt. That proved a big play as McElory followed with a routine fly ball to left, leaving occupants stranded at the corners.
Tennessee's offense blew the contest wide open in the top of the sixth as Davin started off a five-run outburst with a clean single. With two down the fireworks truly began as Chavanne singled through the infield to plate junior pinch runner Whitney Hammond for a 4-0 lead. Shipman picked up her 61st RBI of the campaign via a fielder's choice, Gibson knocked in her 44th RBI of the year on a base knock and Brown ripped a shot into the gap for a two-RBI single as the Lady Vols rolled to a commanding 8-0 lead.
Ivy Renfroe did allow a one-out base knock to Torres in the RedHawk half of the sixth, but Miami couldn't string anything together as Ledbetter grounded into a fielder's choice and Larrabee bounced out to third to conclude the contest.