May 20, 2012
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - In front of a sold out Lee Stadium crowd of 1,718 on Sunday afternoon, the #5 Tennessee Lady Vol softball squad (49-11) forced the "if necessary"' game at the Knoxville Regional by topping Virginia Tech (42-20), 2-1.
Sophomore shortstop Madison Shipman blasted her 10th HR of the year as part of a 1-for-2, walk, RBI effort, while junior right fielder Kat Dotson went 1-for-3 with a RBI. Senior designated player Shelby Burchell registered her 10th double of the campaign while going 1-for-3 at the dish. Junior third baseman Raven Chavanne recorded two of Tennessee's seven total base knocks and made several outstanding defensive plays.
Junior pitcher Ivy Renfroe improved to 22-8 overall and picked up her third win in the last two days, allowing just a single run on four hits with a walk and three strikeouts in a complete-game effort.
UT's nation-leading defense exerted its influence on the proceedings right from the start in the top of the first. Tennessee's third baseman Chavanne dove into foul ground to catch a liner from center fielder Lauren Gaskill for an impressive first out. After sophomore shortstop Madison Shipman handled a sharp bouncer off the bat of second baseman Kylie McGoldrick, Chavanne leapt to her left for a diving stab of first baseman Courtney Liddle's line drive to end the inning.
The long ball got the Big Orange on the scoreboard with two down in the bottom of the first as Shipman hammered a drive that bounced off the very top of the wall for a 1-0 Lady Vol advantage.
With Renfroe cruising in the circle, Burchell attempted to get another scoring threat started in the bottom of the second, blasting her 10th double off the Lee Stadium wall. Unfortunately for Tennessee, Virginia Tech hurler Harrell retired the next three Lady Vols she faced as the lead-off two-bagger went for naught.
The Hokies finally managed their initial base runner of the contest in the top of the fourth as a walk issued to McGoldrick broke a streak of 10 straight retired by Renfroe. Liddle was struck on a 3-2 pitch and suddenly VT had a pair of runners aboard with still only one down. Third baseman Kelsey Mericka came to the plate and hit a sharp grounder right to Chavanne. The Thousand Oaks, Calif., native corralled the ball, turned quickly to step on third and fired across the diamond for a huge, inning-ending double play to end the threat.
Having gotten out of the previous half-inning's jam, Shipman got UT off to a good start in the bottom of the fourth by drawing a lead-off walk against Harrell. Once again the lead-off base runner was wasted as a fielder's choice, a long fly ball off the bat of Burchell and a bouncer back to the circle left the occupant stranded at first.
For the first time all day, Virginia Tech got its lead-off on base during the top of the fifth as catcher Betty Rose registered Tech's initial hit of the contest on a base knock to center. With one out in the frame, a Lady Vol throw on a grounder from VT's Dani Anderson, proved wide of second for an error as the Hokies suddenly boasted occupants at the corners and just one down. Renfroe got out of the jam, however, inducing a routine pop-up by designated player Logan Spaw and handling a sharp grounder back to the circle by pinch hitter Katey Smith as Tech left a pair stranded.
Looking some vital insurance, the Lady Vol speed game got a scoring rally started with two down in the bottom of the fifth. Lewis christened the outburst with an infield single and moved to second on a base knock through the infield. With runners at first and second, Dotson ripped a base hit to the outfield, proving enough to score Lewis from second. The Chattanooga, Tenn., native crossed the plate perhaps a second before Chavanne was caught trying to advance to third to end the inning as Tennessee moved in front 2-0.
That proved a huge run in the contest as Tech refused to go quietly in the top of the seventh. Right fielder Kat Banks managed a one-out single back through the middle of the UT infield. Following a groundout by Anderson that advanced the runner into scoring position, Spaw drove a shot into center fielder as Banks scored, cutting the Big Orange advantage to 2-1. Kristen Froechlich stepped to the dish in a huge pinch hitting spot, but struck out swinging for Renfroe's third K of the contest as UT forced the "if necessary" game for a berth in NCAA Super Regionals.