March 3, 2010
BY GRANT RAMEY
After Tennessee's softball team dropped both games of its double-header on opening day, co-head coach Ralph Weekly did something he's becoming accustomed to.
He handed the ball to a freshman pitcher.
Freshman Ivy Renfroe responded by leading her team to its first victory of the season, a 4-2 win over Oklahoma, and picking up her first collegiate win in the process.
The Humboldt, Tenn., native helped lift her team out of the loss column with a shutout against the Sooners, allowing four hits and a walk in four innings.
"It was added pressure (to pitch after the two losses), but I just had to take it as, `This is nothing, this is a game, you've played softball all your life,' " she said. "And just relax and go out there and do what I know how to do."
Since then, Renfroe has compiled a 4-1 record and a team-best 3.50 ERA in eight appearances.
"I didn't expect (the early success), I would never expect it," she said. "As a freshman I expected to be one of the lowest ones, just a freshman."
Just being a freshman, though, means a lot to Tennessee's softball team.
Last year as freshman, Cat Hosfield made 54 appearances while logging 257 innings and a 28-13 record.
"It's nice to have two pitchers that are both good," coach Ralph Weekly said. "And they are both good, their numbers don't always reflect it right now, but they're young and we've played some really quality opponents."
Renfroe's freshman lumps came in an 8-7 loss to Stanford in the Cathedral City (Calif.) Classic last weekend. In just over five innings of work, Renfroe allowed six earned runs, including the game winner.
"Stanford was a game we could have won. We looked at it later, and some of the pitches that were hit were just down the middle. And that happens with young pitchers in stress situations," Weekly said.
The stress appeared to be relieved two days later when Renfroe responded with another four-inning shutout win, this time over Ohio State.
"It was huge," Renfroe said. "I haven't actually thought about that until now, but it was definitely huge. With a loss like that, you have to move on and forget about it."
The positive response, according to Renfroe, can be attributed to the lessons learned from Hosfield.
"She doesn't really say it verbally, but I can tell. And they've said there are things you have to do to succeed, like keeping the ball down and just hitting your spots," Renfroe said. "I still have to focus on stuff that I've been trying to focus on, keeping the ball down and getting movement in my pitches."
She's right where she needs to be just 12 games into her freshman season.
"I think she is where I want her to be right now," Weekly said. "Sometimes with young pitchers you don't really know what is happening. I think while they're young, it's hard to tell what we're going to get, but she's working hard and trying to get better."