March 26, 2011
By Brian Davis, Assistant Media Relations Director
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - On a chilly and overcast Saturday afternoon in front of 688 fans at the Lee Softball Stadium and with a live television audience watching via SportSouth, the No. 11 Tennessee Lady Vol softball team (26-5, 4-3 Southeastern Conference) banged out 13 hits to secure a series victory over South Carolina (17-14, 3-9 SEC) by downing the Gamecocks, 10-3.
Lauren Gibson talks about going 4-for-4 in a 10-3 win over South Carolina
The televised match-up marked the 60th overall for the Tennessee softball program since venturing out to its first Women's College World Series to conclude the 2005 campaign.
Big Orange sophomore second baseman Lauren Gibson led the UT offensive assault by registering a career-high four hits in four at-bats with her eighth double of the season and a pair of RBIs. Sophomore third baseman Raven Chavanne was 2-for-4 with three RBI and her team-best 20th stolen base, while junior first baseman Shelby Burchell posted a 2-for-3 effort with a pair of RBIs. Freshman left fielder Chelsea O'Connor (1-for-4, run) and junior catcher Ashley Andrews (1-for-2, run) each delivered RBI singles in the victory. Senior center fielder Kelly Grieve doubled, scored a pair of tallies and swiped her 13th base of the season.
Sophomore starter Ivy Renfroe improved to 8-2 overall by allowing two earned runs on six hits with a pair of walks and six strikeouts over 5.2 innings of work. Freshman Ellen Renfroe walked one, allowed a single hit and K'ed a batter over 1.1 frames of relief.
"Our kids played well today," Lady Vol Co-Head Coach Ralph Weekly said. "They came out with a game plan and executed it to pick up an important win. I'm pleased with both of our pitchers' effort. Ivy had a really good start for us, and Ellen was solid in a relief appearance. Lauren Gibson was truly on fire at the plate today, going 4-for-4 overall with a double and a couple of RBIs."
After Ivy Renfroe struck out a pair of Gamecocks during a quick top of the first, the Lady Vols wasted no time in taking firm control of the contest in the bottom half of the opening frame.
Grieve kicked things off in the first by lacing a one-out double, while sophomore right fielder Kat Dotson and junior designated player Jessica Spigner immediately followed with walks to load the bases. Gibson stepped to the plate and ripped an RBI single through the infield to plate Grieve from 60 feet away for a 1-0 advantage. A two-RBI base knock off the bat of Burchell and an RBI single from O'Connor quickly expanded the lead to 4-0 Tennessee. Freshman shortstop Madison Shipman then drew a free pass to end Sarratt's first stay in the circle as April Borchardt was summoned in for relief duty. With runners at first and second, Borchardt managed a K for the second retirement of the frame, but watched as Chavanne recorded a two-RBI hit to push the UT lead to a half dozen.
Tennessee threatened again in the bottom of the second as Dotson started the frame with an infield single, eventually moving to third on a one-out double by Gibson. Unfortunately for the Big Orange, a pair of groundouts left the duo stranded on the base paths.
Despite allowing single base runners during each of the first four innings, Ivy Renfroe kept things under control by striking out a combined five Gamecock hitters during that stretch. Included was a 10-pitch battle against S.C. second baseman Dana Hathorn to conclude the top of the third as the batter ended up grounding out routinely to Chavanne at third on a 3-2 offering.
A fielding miscue on South Carolina third baseman Evan Childs allowed Grieve to reach to christen the bottom of the fourth. That play came back to hurt the Gamecocks with two down, as Gibson delivered an RBI single to score Grieve and make it 7-0.
After the Lady Vols left the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth, S.C. finally managed to get on the scoreboard in the top of the sixth, plating three runs via a trio of hits and a UT error.
With one retired in the sixth, South Carolina right fielder Hannah Milks got something started by ripping a double just inside the first base bag and down the right field line. Third baseman Evan Childs was struck by a pitch with two outs to put runners at the corners. Gamecock catcher P.J. Fulmer followed immediately with an RBI double down the left field line as Milks crossed to cut the deficit to 7-1. Following a Lady Vol pitching change as Ellen Renfroe replaced her sister in the circle, an infield single off the bat of S.C. center fielder Lauren Lackey plated a tally. An error on a dropped throw during the play permitted the third run of the frame to cross as UT's lead was cut to 7-3.
Back-to-back singles by Gibson and Burchell opening the bottom of the sixth set the tone as Tennessee's offense answered back with three scores of its own. Despite a groundball double play that threatened to derail the assault, a wild pitch by South Carolina reliever Kierstyn White allowed Gibson to race home from third with UT's eighth tally. A Shipman two-bagger and consecutive RBI singles from Andrews and Chavanne finalized the Big Orange scoreboard total at 10 runs.
Despite issuing a two-out walk to Westfall in the top of the seventh, Ellen Renfroe struck out one, got a magnificent diving play by Shipman on a liner to short and coerced a Milks groundout to third to complete Tennessee's triumph.
The Big Orange wraps up its weekend series against South Carolina on Sun., March 27th, at 1 p.m. ET at Lee Softball Stadium. The match-up is slated to be broadcast live on "The Sports Animal" (99.1 or 99.3 FM and AM 990) while free live web video as well as the radio feed will be provided through UTLadyVols.com/allaccess. Check both http://twitter.com/LadyVol_Sftball and http://twitter.com/LadyVol_Sports for the most up-to-date information on Tennessee softball.