Feb. 20, 2011
By Brian Davis, Assistant Media Relations Director
LAS VEGAS, Nev. - A four-run second inning outburst by UNLV proved to be just enough on Saturday afternoon at the Eller Media Stadium in Las Vegas, Nev., as the Rebels held off a late rally by No. 3 Tennessee (7-1), 4-3, to hand the Lady Vol softball team its first defeat of 2011.
The Big Orange had entered the match-up having out-scored its seven previous opponents by a combined score of 88-5 and having recorded a program-best seven consecutive run-rule triumphs.
Lady Vol senior center fielder Kelly Grieve (2-for-4) and junior third baseman Jessica Spigner (2-for-2, double, RBI) each posted two of Tennessee's seven total hits in the match-up. Junior catcher Ashley Andrews was credited with a pair of RBIs via a groundout and a bases-loaded walk.
Sophomore hurler Ivy Renfroe permitted all four UNLV tallies on four hits over 2.2 innings to take the defeat and drop to 2-1 on the young campaign. Freshman Ellen Renfroe (1.1 IP) and junior Cat Hosfield (2.0 IP) each struck out three while allowing just a single hit apiece during relief stints.
Despite getting an one-out single from Grieve in the top of the first and eventually advancing her into scoring position via a sac bunt, the Lady Vols failed to score in its initial at-bat for the first time in 2011 against the Rebels.
Renfroe got into trouble with one down in the bottom of the second after hitting first baseman Korin Cuico with a pitch and allowing a base knock that dropped just inside the left field line by third baseman Rayna Bradshaw. Catcher Heather Harrison hit a ground ball off the end of the bat that just eluded sophomore second baseman Lauren Gibson behind the second base bag for a hit as Cuico raced home for a 1-0 UNLV advantage. Designated player Tayler Van Acker wasted no time improving the lead to 4-0 by blasting a three-run shot to deep right. An infield bunt single by center fielder Paige Emerson brought an end to Ivy Renfroe's day in the circle as her sister Ellen was summoned in for a relief appearance. The 6-0 right hander immediately got second baseman Elena Fata swinging to end the inning, but not before the scoreboard damage had been done.
A lead-off single from Andrews and a one-out base knock just inside the left field line by Grieve put a pair of Lady Vols aboard in the top of the third. Unfortunately a drive the other way to left off the bat of sophomore right fielder Kat Dotson was caught and then freshman shortstop Madison Shipman bounced out to second, upping the UT stranded count to four through three innings.
Looking to get something started for the Lady Vols, Spigner did just that with one out in the top of the fourth by ripping a double past the shortstop that raced all the way to the wall. Junior first baseman Shelby Burchell followed by drawing a walk and then sophomore designated player Melissa Brown was hit by the first offering from pitcher Kylie Wagner, loading the bases full of Lady Vols. UNLV's Amanda Oliveto was summoned on for a relief appearance and induced a routine bouncer to short by Andrews. The play allowed junior pinch runner Holly Baker the opportunity to race across from 60 feet away, however, and cut the UT deficit to 4-1.
With new reliever Hosfield keeping Tennessee in the game from the circle, Gibson christened the top of the sixth by drawing a walk. A wild pitch advanced the Pasadena, Md., native into scoring position, and then Spigner singled to left to put runners at the corners with no one retired. Burchell battled to draw a walk, packing the bases full of Lady Vols once again as UT faced a golden opportunity. Following a K, Andrews managed a bases-loaded free pass to force in Gibson and make it 4-2. Unfortunately, that would be all the Big Orange would get as a fielder's choice that cut down the lead runner at the plate and a K left three more runners stranded.
Shipman demonstrated her impressive range at shortstop in the sixth, ranging over almost completely behind the second base bag to corral a bouncer from Harrison before easily gunning the runner down at first.
Down to a final chance in the top of the seventh, Shipman kept hopes alive with one retired by hustling down the line to beat out a high chopper back to the circle. Gibson delivered a base knock past second base and advanced to second on a futile throw that failed to cut down Shipman as the Valencia, Calif., native rolled into third. A sacrifice fly by Spigner to deep left scored a single tally to cut the deficit to 4-3. Unfortunately, a Big Orange strikeout ended the match-up as UT left the tying run stranded in scoring position.