Feb. 13, 2011
By Brian Davis, Assistant Media Relations Director
DELAND, Fla. - Behind a season-high 14-hit assault, No. 4 Tennessee (4-0) completed its perfect opening weekend at the Stetson Leadoff Classic in DeLand, Fla., on Sunday afternoon with a dominating 14-0 (5 inn.) rout of Michigan State.
The Lady Vols hit .475 as a team over the weekend and out-scored their four opponents by a combined 44-2 while the pitching staff held the opposition to a meager .169 batting average and recorded three solo shutouts.
Tennessee sophomore designated player Raven Chavanne wrapped up a perfect day at the plate by going 3-for-3 with a double, three runs scored, a stolen base and two RBIs. The Thousand Oaks, Calif., native posted a perfect 6-for-6 effort on Sunday combined against Boston College and MSU and is now hitting .692 (9-for-13) with a team-high nine runs, two homers and 10 RBIs through the initial four games of 2011.
By also registering a perfect 3-for-3 effort at the dish with four RBI, sophomore second baseman Lauren Gibson improved her season mark to .545 (6-for-11) with nine total runs batted in. Junior first baseman Shelby Burchell had a hit against Michigan State during the finale and currently leads the squad at a staggering .700 (7-for-10) clip for the weekend. Sophomore right fielder Kat Dotson hit .700 (7-for-10) overall with nine RBIs at the Stetson Leadoff Classic. In her initial weekend in the Orange & White, freshman shortstop Madison Shipman hit .500 (5-for-10) overall with a HR and four RBIs.
Freshman hurler Ellen Renfroe improved to 2-0 by tossing her second career shutout, allowing three hits, walking two and tallying six strikeouts over five frames of work.
"Karen (Co-Head Coach Weekly) and I could not be prouder of our team," Lady Vol Co-Head Coach Ralph Weekly said. "We are especially proud of our freshmen, who performed exceptionally well in their first weekend at Tennessee. We were impressed with how well all three of our pitchers threw here at Stetson. We know this is just one weekend out of a long season. A big key was that our offense scored early and often in all four games. That makes things easier on everyone."
Tennessee followed its early-season script by pouncing on Michigan State from the very start. Chavanne opened her second straight game with a lead-off base knock by hustling down the line to beat out an infield single to second. After a stolen base and a throwing error on Spartan catcher Brett Williams, the floodgates opened for the Big Orange as Dotson knocked in a run via a single to right. Shipman walked and both she and Dotson advanced into scoring position on a wild pitch from MSU's Lauren Kramer. That set the stage for a two-RBI base hit through the right side of the infield from Gibson as UT's advantage expanded to 3-0. A Burchell single to right and junior third baseman Jessica Spigner getting struck by a pitch packed the bags full of Lady Vols with still just one retired. O'Connor delivered an RBI single through the left side, and Andrews coerced a bases-loaded free pass to force in a run as the count improved to 5-0. Chavanne doubled in a pair on a drive back through the middle of the infield, while Dotson soon followed with a two-RBI two-bagger off the wall in left center to make it 9-0. Before the first inning had concluded, Tennessee had sent 13 batters to the plate in scoring nine runs on seven hits.
Andrews christened the top of the third with a base knock through the right side. Chavanne followed with a free pass, and then Grieve laced a single into short left center to juice the bases again for the Orange & White. A one-out walk by Shipman brought home UT's 10th run of the contest as Andrews scored from third to make it 10-0. That forced Michigan State Head Coach Jacquie Joseph to her bullpen to bring on relief pitcher Shelby Wise. Gibson greeted her rudely by driving a single back up the middle on a 3-2 count to force across another pair of Lady Vols as the advantage expanded to 12-0.
Renfroe faced a little trouble in the bottom of the third as Michigan State left fielder Lori Padilla led off the frame with a single. The Jackson, Tenn., native quickly rebounded to strike out the next two batters she faced before walking shortstop Lindsey Hansen. Any threat dissolved quickly as UT's 6-0 pitcher coerced a fly ball to center by Kramer.
During the bottom of the fourth freshman Tory Lewis managed her first collegiate hit on a swinging bunt out in front of the plate.
Sophomore third baseman Melissa Brown contributed to the Lady Vol offensive onslaught in the fifth by blasting her first collegiate homer, a two-run shot, to right center to make it 14-0.
From there Renfroe retired the Spartans in order in the bottom of the fifth to wrap up the commanding victory.
Tennessee now heads back to Knoxville to open its home schedule on Tues., Feb. 15, at 5 p.m. versus in-state foe ETSU. Live stats will be available through Gametracker and periodical updates will be posted on Twitter. Check both http://twitter.com/LadyVol_Sftball and http://twitter.com/UTLadyVols for more information on Tennessee Lady Vol softball.