Feb. 20, 2011
By Brian Davis, Assistant Media Relations Director
LAS VEGAS, Nev. - The No. 3 Tennessee Lady Vol softball team (8-1) got back on track after suffering its first loss of the season by hammering Southern Illinois-Edwardsville, 12-2 (5 inn.), on Saturday evening at the Eller Media Stadium In Las Vegas, Nev.
The run-rule victory marked the Big Orange's eighth in its nine total contests this season. UT is currently averaging a robust 11.4 runs-per-game and has outscored its foes by a combined total of 103-11.
Lady Vol freshman hurler Ellen Renfroe (5.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R) made personal history by striking out a career-high eight during a complete-game two-hitter.
Senior center fielder Kelly Grieve (3-for-4, two runs, stolen base, triple), junior third baseman Jessica Spigner (2-for-3, double, HR, two runs), sophomore second baseman Lauren Gibson (2-for-3, run, steal) and junior first baseman Shelby Burchell (2-for-3, run) were each credited with two RBIs. Sophomore designated player Raven Chavanne posted a 2-for-4 effort at the dish with a pair of tallies, while freshman shortstop Madison Shipman registered a 1-for-3, two-run, RBI performance.
Tennessee wasted no time in its nightcap, jumping on SIUE for four runs in the top of the first inning. Grieve got it started with a single to center and moved to second via a stolen base. With two retired a wild pitch by SIUE's Erika Taylor allowed UT's Grieve to race into third. From there Spigner launched an RBI two-bagger into the gap in left center to make it 1-0 Lady Vols. Gibson and Shipman each laced RBI singles through the infield and advanced to second on futile throws to the plate as the lead expanded to 3-0. UT wasn't done, however, as junior first baseman Shelby Burchell delivered a high bouncer past SIUE shortstop Chelsea Yankolovich and into left center as Shipman rolled home to improve the count to 4-0.
The Cougars cut into their deficit immediately during the bottom of the first. Lead-off hitter Yankolovich singled right back through the middle into center to get the frame started. She came around to score with one retired on a two-run homer to left center by catcher Rachel Coonrod as the scoreboard read 4-2, Tennessee.
The Orange & White speed game got a one-out rally started in the top of the second as Chavanne slapped a single into short left center. Grieve followed with a base knock to center, putting a pair of Lady Vols aboard venturing into the heart of the line-up. Dotson was struck by the first pitch she faced, loading the bags for Spigner. The Santa Clarita, Calif., native lined a sharp shot right at SIUE shortstop Yankolovich, but she dropped it for an error, allowing a tally to cross to make it 5-2. A fielder's choice off the bat of Gibson and an errant throw on a steal attempt by Cougar catcher Coonrod each brought home single Lady Vol runs to set the count at 7-2.
Renfroe settled in after a rough opening to the initial frame by striking out four consecutive batters from the last out of the opening inning through the entire second.
With two outs in the top of the third, Tennessee added to its lead. Andrews singled to right and then Chavanne followed with a chopper over third base that rolled down the left field line. Grieve stepped into the batter's box and crushed a pitch to deep left center that rattled off the wall for a two-RBI triple as the lead expanded to 9-2.
The consecutive K streak grew to five opening the bottom of the third as Renfroe punched out SIUE center fielder Megan Murphy. Yankolovich followed with a sharp bouncer back to the circle that ricocheted off the 6-0 right hander and caromed away. Renfroe recovered and made the throw in time to first, remaining in the contest after getting hit hard on the leg. Gibson then completed the inning by making a solid unassisted run to first with a bouncer from left fielder Lindsey Barron.
Spigner made it 10-2 Big Orange in the top of the fourth by crushing a solo bomb to left center that cleared not only the primary fencing but another secondary fence standing about 40 feet beyond. A one-out free pass issued to Shipman was cashed in on a two-bagger from Burchell that raced past SIUE's second baseman and rolled all the way to the wall in right center. Freshman Chelsea O'Connor followed with a double into the left center field gap as another tally crossed to make it 12-2.
Two more K's for Renfroe in the bottom of the fourth pushed the Jackson, Tenn., native's strikeout total to a career-high seven against the Cougars.
Down to its final chance, SIUE could get nothing going against UT's pitcher, going down in order as Renfroe finished off a complete-game effort with a career-high eight strikeouts.
Tennessee's final day at the Louisville Slugger Desert Classic begins bright and early as the Lady Vols play on Sunday at 11:15 a.m. PT versus No. 19/18 Stanford. Live stats will be available for the contest 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.