Feb. 22, 2011
By Brian Davis, Assistant Media Relations Director
LAS VEGAS, Nev. - On a bright and sunny Tuesday afternoon at the Eller Media Stadium in Las Vegas, Nev., the No. 8 Tennessee Lady Vol softball team (9-2) got back into the win column and picked up its ninth run-rule victory of the season by blowing out Southern Utah, 10-1 (5 inn.).
The Big Orange scored in the first inning for the ninth time in 2011, improving to a perfect 9-0 in such tilts, and put up four tallies in both the second and third frames while substituting freely from its bench.
"It was good to get back on track today," Lady Vol Co-Head Coach Ralph Weekly said. "We had a couple of bumps in the road over the weekend, but that happens when you have a young team. I think our freshmen and sophomores are really learning what it's like to play on the road at the beginning of a collegiate career. We'll be a much better team down the road because of this 11-day trip. It seems as if we always perform better later in the year because of the early challenges we face as well as the challenges within the Southeastern Conference. We look forward to competing in this weekend's big tournament in Cathedral City."
UT sophomore designated player Kat Dotson (two steals, two RBIs) and junior catcher Ashley Andrews (RBI) each posted perfect 2-for-2 efforts at the dish to lead Tennessee's 10-hit assault. Junior first baseman Shelby Burchell (1-for-3, .538 season average) continued her impressive start to the 2011 campaign by knocking in a pair of scores to give her a team-best 17 RBIs. Junior third baseman Jessica Spigner (1-for-3) recorded her squad-high fourth double, while senior center fielder Kelly Grieve, freshman Chelsea O'Connor (1-for-1) and sophomore Melissa Brown (1-for-2) each were credited with a single RBI. Rookie right fielder Tory Lewis was 1-for-1 with two runs scored in only her second career start. Sophomore left fielder Raven Chavanne improved her season average to an even .500 overall after going 1-for-1 with two walks, a stolen base and her 18th and 19th runs of the year.
By tossing three innings of two-hit ball from the circle with a pair of walks and four strikeouts, sophomore right hander Ivy Renfroe improved to 3-1 overall. Junior Cat Hosfield permitted a single run on two hits with a K over two frames of relief work.
Renfroe retired Southern Utah in order in the top of the first to bring up the Big Orange looking to get off to a quick start.
Tennessee's offense did just that by putting up a pair of runs on three hits during the bottom half of the opening frame. Chavanne got things going by chopping a high bouncer off the hard-packed dirt out in front of the plate for a lead-off single. Following a steal of second, the Thousand Oaks, Calif., native's seventh of the season, Dotson stepped into the box and ripped a base hit back through the middle of the infield, plating Chavanne for a 1-0 lead. With two retired in the frame Burchell made it 2-0 with a hit into center, marking the Columbia, Tenn., product's team-best 16th RBI of the young season.
The Thunderbirds got a little two-out rally started in the top of the second as first baseman Madison Resley blooped a single into right center, and Ariel Morbeck followed by drawing a walk. With two on left fielder Brittany Henderson had a golden opportunity to get SUU on the scoreboard, but watched strike three go by to end the scoring opportunity with no damage.
The Big Orange blew the game wide open in the bottom of the second, plating four runs on the benefit of two hits, two walks, two wild pitches and an error. A single to left from Andrews kicked the inning off and then Lewis and Chavanne followed by drawing back-to-back walks to pack the bases with no one retired. Following a Southern Utah pitching change, consecutive wild pitches from new hurler Bubba Kearns allowed two runs to cross as the advantage grew to four tallies. RBI groundouts from Grieve and Burchell plated another pair to run the count in favor of the Lady Vols to 6-0.
SUU second baseman Stephanie DeJesus got the top of the third off to a promising start for the `Birds by drawing a lead-off free pass. Center fielder Jenavieve Purcell followed with a blooper to left that dropped just in front on an onrushing Chavanne, and suddenly the Scarlet and White had a pair on with no outs. Renfroe responded immediately by striking out catcher Heather Richardson for a big first out. Shortstop Aly Daniels lined a ball towards first that Burchell caught on the run, managing to tag out Purcell for a vital, inning-ending double play.
A two-bagger to the wall in right center by Spigner christened a four-run Tennessee third. Andrews delivered an RBI base knock, O'Connor knocked in a tally on a single through the left side, Dotson delivered a sacrifice fly to center and Brown laced an RBI hit through the right side of the infield to set the count at 10-0, UT.
A solo home run to center off reliever Hosfield by Southern Utah clean-up hitter Darleen Fernandez leading off the top of the fourth ended the shutout bid and cut the `Birds deficit to 10-1. Designated player Haylee Hoch followed with a double just inside the chalk down the left field line, putting another runner in scoring position. Hosfield settled in from there, however, getting a K looking from Resley before inducing back-to-back groundouts to conclude the inning.
In SUU's last chance in the top of the fifth, Purcell did manage to reach by getting struck by a one-out pitch. Richardson followed with a foul pop-up outside of first, however, and Daniels bounced back to the circle as Hosfield tossed over to the bag to finish off the run-rule triumph.
Tennessee continues its marathon 11-day road trip on Thurs., Feb. 24, with a 3:30 p.m. PT contest against UCSB at the Cathedral City Classic at Big League Dreams Sports Park in Cathedral City, Calif. 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.