Junior Jessica Spigner
March 6, 2011
By Brian Davis, Assistant Media Relations Director
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The No. 7 Lady Vol softball team (19-2) improved its official winning streak to 11 straight games, and even added a come-from-behind exhibition victory to its tally, while completing its annual Tennessee Classic unbeaten with triumphs over Georgia Southern (10-2, 5 inn.) and the Dutch National Team (6-5) on a bitterly cold and breezy Sunday at the Lee Softball Stadium.
Big Orange sophomore right fielder Kat Dotson continued her incredible weekend effort at the plate during the victory over GSU by going 1-for-2 with a three-run HR and four total RBIs. Over UT's four official contests at the Tennessee Classic, the Savannah, Ga., native tallied a .667 (8-of-12) batting average with a double, a triple, three HR's and 10 RBIs while slugging 1.667 and OPS-ing 2.381. Dotson now owns a team-best .517 batting average and 34 RBIs in 2011 and with six big flies has already doubled the HR output from her entire All-American rookie campaign.
By going 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs versus the Eagles, junior first baseman Shelby Burchell (team-best seven HR's this year) wrapped up an event during which she hit .417 (5-for-12) with two HR's and five RBIs. Sophomore second baseman Lauren Gibson tallied a .667 (6-for-9) mark with a pair of doubles and four RBIs, while sophomore left fielder Raven Chavanne and senior center fielder Kelly Grieve registered .545 (6-for-11, seven runs scored, four steals) and .455 (5-for-11, four runs scored, two steals) overall averages, respectively.
UT freshman right hander Ellen Renfroe improved to 11-1 on the season, allowing two runs on four hits with three walks and nine strikeouts in the complete-game win over Georgia Southern. Her sister, sophomore Ivy Renfroe, fired nearly 140 pitches while going the whole way in the circle during the comeback win over the powerful Dutch National squad. The Jackson, Tenn., product permitted four earned runs on nine hits while walking two and striking out 11.
"Today was a good day for Lady Vol softball," Tennessee Co-Head Coach Ralph Weekly said. "A lot of different players contributed in the win over Georgia Southern, and the game against the Dutch National Team was a great test for our squad before we enter the rugged Southeastern Conference. The Dutch team was solid in every aspect, had already beaten Michigan (6-1) on their current tour and had saved two terrific pitchers for their match-up with us. Karen (Co-Head Coach Weekly) and I are really proud of the effort from our pitching staff throughout this entire weekend and are especially proud of Kat Dotson and Kelly Grieve. That pair just delivered huge hit after huge hit."
The fireworks began immediately against GSU as the Eagles struck for a pair of scores in the top of the first against Ellen Renfroe. Center fielder Marie Fogle started the match-up by bashing a 1-2 offering to left for a solo HR. With one down in the frame, third baseman Andrea Tarashuk laced a double to left and was replaced by Nicole Benton on the base paths. That move paid dividends as a wild pitch and a UT miscommunication on a double steal attempt allowed the Eagle speedster to scamper home and make it 2-0, Georgia Southern.
As she has done so often during her brief career at Rocky Top, Chavanne effectively manufactured a tally with her speed in the bottom of the first. The Thousand Oaks, Calif., native reached on a lead-off single, swiped a pair of bases and scored on an interference call on GSU's Tarashuk following an errant throw into left from catcher Mackenzie Williams.
After a rocky opening frame, Ellen Renfroe settled down in the circle, striking out the GSU side in the top of the second and adding two more K's in the third. In fact seven of Georgia Southern's first eight outs of the contest were via strikeout.
Tennessee took control in the bottom of the third as a Grieve base knock christened a three-run outburst. Following a stolen base and a bad throw to third from GSU's Fogle on a routine fly out to center, Burchell delivered a run-scoring single to knot the score at 2-2. Lady Vol junior third baseman Jessica Spigner walked to put a pair aboard for freshman right fielder Chelsea O'Connor. With two down the Galeton, Colo., native lifted a pop-up behind first base that was dropped for a crucial error by Breigh Findlay as both UT base occupants managed to roll home to make it 4-2.
The speed game tandem of Chavanne and Grieve was at it again in the bottom of the fourth, christening the frame with back-to-back infield singles to set the stage for some long ball fireworks. Dotson came to the plate and launched a towering drive that literally landed on the very top of the Lee Stadium wall before continuing over to raise the UT advantage to 7-2.
The Eagles threatened to climb back into the contest during the top of the fifth as Ellen Renfroe walked left fielder Alexa Lewis and Fogle to start the inning. Following a sacrifice bunt that advanced each GSU runner up 60 feet into scoring position, UT's 6-0 hurler managed to strikeout Tarashuk and handled an inning-ending bouncer back to the circle off the bat of pitcher Megen Smith to end the threat.
Faced with the opportunity to end a contest via the run-rule for the 12th time in 2011, Tennessee wouldn't disappoint by putting up a crooked letter on the scoreboard during the bottom of the fifth. Pinch hitters Whitney Hammond and Tory Lewis took advantage of their opportunities by providing consecutive base knocks and stolen bases to get the assault underway. Grieve and Dotson managed back-to-back free passes to force in a tally as the lead expanded to 8-2. From there Burchell and Gibson added run-scoring singles to account for the final margin.
Dutch National Team
In the nightcap facing the powerful Dutch National Team, UT's Grieve proved the heroine offensively as her 2-for-4, double, four-RBI effort led a nine-hit offensive attack for the Orange & White. Junior third baseman Jessica Spigner (1-for-3) and Dotson (2-for-4) were each credited with an RBI in the unofficial exhibition match-up.
Neither squad could get much going offensively early on as Ivy Renfroe and Rebecca Soumeru put up matching blanks on the scoreboard over the initial two frames. For Soumeru, the action marked her first for the Dutch National Team at the Tennessee Classic.
Dutch third baseman Virginie Anneveld managed the initial breakthrough by either team leading off the top of the third by ripping a single just inside the third base bag. Left fielder Merel Oosterveld attempted a sacrifice but ended up with a hit instead as her bunt found the perfect spot up the first base line. Following a successful sac bunt that advanced the duo into scoring position, designated player Nathalie Gosewehr knocked in a tally via a hit back through the middle for a 1-0 advantage. Center fielder Saskia Kosterink followed soon after with a two-RBI single through the left side as the lead expanded to three runs.
Tennessee wasted no time climbing right back into the contest by putting up a three-spot of its own during the bottom of the third inning. Hammond got things started with a two-bagger that just escaped a diving attempt by Oosterveld. With two retired in the frame, Chavanne managed an infield hit and swiped second to join Hammond in scoring position. The advancement wasn't really necessary as Grieve came to the dish and crushed a three-run home run well over the Lee Stadium wall to knot the score at 3-3.
The Dutch National team managed single tallies in the fifth and sixth innings via a bases-loaded walk by right fielder Areke Spel and a Gosewehr RBI single to nab a 5-3 advantage.
Down to one final chance in the bottom of the seventh, the Lady Vol offense mounted a spirited comeback. Lewis christened the frame by battling reliever Lindsey Meadows for a walk and quickly scampered to second on a wild pitch. Chavanne drew a free pass and Grieve followed with an RBI two-bagger just over first baseman Nadine Marinus' glove and down the right field line. Trailing by only a single run, Dotson came through in the clutch once again with another RBI base knock as Chavanne crossed the plate and dead-locked the match-up at 5-5. With runners standing at the corners and still no one retired, Burchell bounced back to the pitcher and then Gibson was intentionally walked to pack the bags full of Orange & White. Spigner stepped into the batter's box and hit a tough spinning grounder just past Meadows in the circle to score Grieve and complete UT's walk-off victory.
Tennessee softball returns to action on Tues., March 8, by hosting Liberty for a single 6 p.m. contest. 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 the most up-to-date information on Lady Vol softball.