Freshman Ivy Renfroe
March 10, 2010
By Brian Davis, Assistant Media Relations Director
STARKVILLE, Miss. - No. 19 Tennessee (15-5, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) wasted little time on Wednesday in securing a series victory over Mississippi State (14-8, 1-2 SEC), jumping on the Bulldogs for 10 runs over the opening three innings on the way to a commanding 10-4 victory in the "rubber match" of a league set at the MSU Softball Field in Starkville, Miss.
By going 4-for-5 at the plate with a double, four RBIs and three runs scored, junior Kelly Grieve led a 12-hit UT offensive assault while also making an outstanding catch while running into the wall in center. Senior Tiffany Huff went 2-for-3 at the dish with two RBIs and a double, freshman right fielder Kat Dotson knocked in two runs as part of a 1-for 3 contest, senior first baseman Erinn Webb doubled twice in a 2-for-4 effort and sophomore third baseman Jessica Spigner (1-for-4, run) also doubled in a tally.
Freshman right hander Ivy Renfroe improved to 8-1 in the circle by allowing two earned runs on five hits with three walks and eight strikeouts during a complete-game performance.
"We are very happy with the way our team responded to last night's late-inning loss by fighting back to take the series today," Lady Vol co-head coach Ralph Weekly said. "We came out firing on all cylinders and scored 10 runs in the first three innings off their two best pitchers. We continue to have a lot of people contributing offensively, but today was Kelly Grieve's day since she went 4-for-5 with four RBIs. We are especially proud of Ivy Renfroe in getting a complete-game victory over a tough MSU offensive lineup."
Freshman left fielder Raven Chavanne got the Lady Vols started in the first by coercing a lead-off walk from Mississippi State starter Kylie Vry. The Thousand Oaks, Calif., native advanced into scoring position on a wild pitch. Grieve bunted a perfect ball right between the pitcher and first baseman for a single as Chavanne quickly rolled around third to score the game's first run. A stolen base and a groundout advanced Grieve to third with Huff at the plate. The 5-7 catcher chopped a base knock right back through the middle for an RBI as Tennessee's lead grew to 2-0.
Bulldog lead-off hitter Chelsea Bramlett opened MSU's half of the first with a slap single inside the chalk down the left field line and then stole second to quickly reach scoring position. A botched run down allowed designated player Allie Heon to reach, and suddenly the Maroon & White had a pair on base with none retired. Third baseman Jessie Bailey dropped a sacrifice bunt to move the runners up to second and third for clean-up hitter Ka'ili Smith. She bounced a ball up the first base line that was slow enough to allow Bramlett to cross and cut the deficit to 2-1. With a runner occupying third, Renfroe managed to strikeout second baseman Ali Bainbridge to maintain Tennessee's one-run advantage.
An aggressive Tennessee offense continued to attack Vry in the top of the second. Consecutive singles from sophomore shortstop Ashley Andrews and Chavanne put a pair on with one retired. Grieve stepped up and slapped a double to the wall in left center, scoring Andrews as the UT lead expanded to 3-1. The Lady Vols continued to do their job as Dotson drove a sacrifice fly to mid-range left center, bringing Chavanne home with the Big Orange's fourth tally. Spigner ripped a 1-1 offering just inside the third base line and down into the corner for an RBI double as the scoreboard read 5-1. That forced a pitching change as Misty Flesher was summoned into the contest in relief for Mississippi State. Huff greeted her rudely and made it three two-baggers for UT in the frame with an RBI double into the left center gap, plating Spigner as the lead grew to five runs. A Flesher wild pitch and then an illegal offering brought Huff across to finalize the offensive damage at five runs on five hits in the inning as Tennessee raced in front by a commanding 7-1 count.
With one out in the bottom of the second and a runner standing on first, Grieve made a tremendous defensive play in center. Shortstop Erin Nesbit drove a ball to deep center that Grieve managed to catch on the run over her shoulder before crashing into the wall. That play proved pretty big as an infield single by pinch hitter Courtney Nesbit and a Bramlett intentional walk later loaded the bases full of Bulldogs with two outs. Renfroe escaped the jam by catching Heon looking at strike three on the outside corner.
Looking for even more on the scoreboard, senior Nicole Kajitani christened the third with a walk. She was quickly joined by Andrews via a bunt single as a tag was missed up the base line by MSU first baseman Shelby Fisher. Following a sac bunt off the bat of Chavanne, Grieve laced a single up the middle that allowed both runners to score for a 9-1 lead and her to end up occupying third base with just one out. Dotson followed with a hard bouncer that ricocheted off Flesher's glove, was corralled at second and tossed on for a putout as Grieve scored to improve the count to a staggering 10-1.
MSU right fielder Brittany Bell managed to draw a walk starting the Bulldogs half of the fourth and quickly advanced to second on a wild pitch. Then on a fly ball to the outfield, the ball hit off the edge of a glove for an error. That set in motion full-blown chaos on the defensive side of the action. On the same play during a throw to third attempting to get the advancing runner, the sphere was thrown away for the second miscue, allowing two to score as MSU cut the UT advantage to 10-3.
With two outs in the top of the fifth, Grieve improved her effort at the plate to a perfect 4-for-4 on a slap single back through the middle. Dotson followed with a base knock off relief pitcher Stephanie Becker as that put two on with Spigner stepping to the dish. Unfortunately, the clean-up hitter hit the ball off the end of the bat, popping up to shortstop to leave the duo stranded.
After a quick one-two-three by Renfroe from the circle in the fifth, Huff started the Lady Vol sixth by drawing a walk. Unfortunately freshman pinch runner Leah Taylor was quickly wiped off the base paths on a tailor-made 4-3 double play. That likely prevented a run from scoring as senior first baseman Erinn Webb absolutely crushed one off the leg of Fisher at first and down the line for a double. Freshman Melissa Brown made solid contact on a ball the other way but her liner traveled right to Smith in left to end the inning.
With one final chance for State to get back into the contest, Bramlett opened the bottom of the seventh by beating out an infield single to short. After MSU swiped a base, pinch hitter Jessica Cooley reached on a single as the infield checked Bramlett back to second, but waited too long to get the runner at first. Consecutive groundouts brought Bramlett home as State cut the lead to 10-4. That was all the Bulldogs would get, however, as Bainbridge finished out a personal three-strikeout night by becoming Renfroe's eight K victim.
No. 19 UT steps out of conference action briefly to host the Tennessee Invitational over March 12-14 at Lee Softball Stadium. The Lady Vols will welcome in Liberty, Tennessee Tech and Campbell for the nine-contest event. Check out Tennessee Invitational Tournament Central through utladyvols.com at http://www.utladyvols.com/sports/w-softbl/spec-rel/tennw-invite.html for Gametracker live stats of every game.