Freshman Lauren Gibson
April 2, 2010
By Brian Davis, Assistant Media Relations Director
COLUMBIA, S.C. - On Friday evening at Beckham Field in Columbia, S.C., No. 16 Tennessee improved to 27-7 overall and 8-3 in Southeastern Conference action by banging out 10 hits during a 9-1 (5 inn.), series-opening victory over Eastern Division foe South Carolina. The win marked the Lady Vols' 16th straight in the all-time series between the two teams.
Big Orange freshman second baseman Lauren Gibson doubled and knocked in a team-high three runs as part of a 2-for-3 effort at the dish. Rookie left fielder Raven Chavanne (2-for-4) and junior center fielder Kelly Grieve (2-for-3) each delivered a pair of base hits and knocked in a tally, while senior catcher Tiffany Huff recorded two RBIs via a sac bunt and a single. Reigning USA Softball National Collegiate Player and SEC Player of the Week Kat Dotson just missed a home run to straight-away center and recorded an RBI on a sac fly.
Current SEC Pitcher of the Week Ivy Renfroe tossed a complete-game, three-hitter to improve to 16-2 on the campaign, allowing one run to go along with three walks and four strikeouts.
"This was just the first of three games in this Eastern Division series," Lady Vol co-head coach Ralph Weekly said. "South Carolina is a tough team and fought hard while we got some timely hits tonight. Lauren Gibson, Raven Chavanne and Kelly Grieve each posted two hits and were just three of several players who delivered in the clutch for us tonight. Ivy Renfroe gets better in the circle every time out."
After a quick one-two-three inning for the Lady Vols in the top of the first, South Carolina third baseman Hannah Milks opened the Gamecocks half of the first by reaching on a lead-off walk. Right fielder Lauren Lackey attempted to drop the sacrifice bunt, but popped it up behind the plate as catcher Huff made the grab. First baseman Laura Mendes ripped a ball up the middle that second baseman Gibson dove for and knocked down, but it bounced away for a single to put a pair aboard for S.C. with one out. Catcher P.J. Fulmer stepped into the box and dropped a roller toward third. Sophomore Jessica Spigner corralled the sphere, stepped on the third base bag and tossed across the diamond for an inning-ending double play.
An error on a grounder to second off the bat of Huff granted the Big Orange a lead-off base runner in the top of the second. Following a fly out to center from Spigner, sophomore designated player Shelby Burchell ripped a 1-2 pitch back through the middle, placing a pair of Lady Vols on with one down. Gibson stepped into the box and, with the S.C. shortstop having been shifted to her right, blasted the ball right where the fielder should have been standing for a single as Huff rolled around to score for a 1-0 lead. Senior first baseman Erinn Webb followed with a base knock between first and second, packing the bags full of Orange & White. After an UT infield pop-up, Chavanne chopped a single up the middle into center, plating Burchell from third to make it 2-0. A strong throw to the plate by South Carolina center fielder Adele Voigt nailed Gibson to conclude the inning with no further Big Orange scoring.
Grieve christened the top of the third with a bouncing base hit through the right side of the infield. Dotson blasted a shot to deep center, but came up just short of a home run as Voigt made the grab at the base of the wall. With Huff at the plate, Grieve swiped second for her 14th steal of the season, advancing on to third as the ball got away from the shortstop on a Gamecock error. That set the stage for a bouncer from Huff as Grieve rolled across from 60 feet away with Tennessee's third tally of the match-up. Consecutive walks issued by S.C. hurler Ashley Chastain to both Spigner and Burchell brought Gibson up with two down and a chance to blow the game wide open. The Pasadena, Md., product did just that by driving a two-bagger the other way into the left center field gap for two RBIs as the Lady Vols took a commanding 5-0 advantage.
Starting the bottom of the third, Renfroe battled to a 3-2 count before walking second baseman and No. 9 hitter Kandyce Redondo. Milks hit into a fielder's choice, cutting down the lead runner at second and then Lackey struck out to get Tennessee within one out of getting out of the inning. Unfortunately for the Orange & White, the lead-off walk came back to bite them as Mendes ripped a double past Gibson at second and into right center field for a double as Milks scored all the way from first to cut the deficit to 5-1.
Consecutive infield singles by sophomore shortstop Ashley Andrews and Chavanne starting the top of the fourth chased Chastain from the circle as Kelsey Goodwin entered in relief. She promptly walked Grieve, loading the bases heading into the meat of Tennessee's order. Dotson just missed a pitch but hit it deep enough to right for a sacrifice fly as Andrews scored. Chavanne swiped home for her team-best 20th theft of the season, and then Huff singled through the right side for an RBI as the lead expanded to 8-1.
A two-out single in the fourth by South Carolina designated player April Borchardt amounted to nothing as Renfroe caught Voigt staring at strike three right across the plate.
Back-to-back one-out walks issued to Webb and pinch hitter Nicole Kajitani set the stage for more UT scoring in the top of the fifth. Grieve stepped in with two retired and blooped a 2-2 offering into short right center for an RBI single as Webb scored for a 9-1 lead. Dotson walked to load the bases with clean-up hitter Huff coming to the plate. The Saugus, Calif., native ripped a promising shot to deep center but Voigt made the catch on the run near the warning track to leave the UT runners stranded.
With the run rule potentially in play heading into the bottom of the fifth, Renfroe opened the inning by coercing a 3-2 pop-up to second by South Carolina's Sam Arbaugh. Andrews handled a little blooper off the bat of Milks and then Lackey went down swinging to seal Tennessee's series-opening victory.
No. 16 Tennessee wraps up its three-game Eastern Division set at South Carolina with a Saturday, April 3 doubleheader at Beckham Field in Columbia, S.C. The schedule for the weekend was altered from its usual Saturday-Sunday league set-up because of the Easter holiday. Live stats will be available via Gametracker through utladyvols.com and live audio is expected to be available for Saturday's doubleheader with the "Voice of the Lady Vols" Mickey Dearstone on either 99.1 or 99.3 FM or 990 AM depending on baseball coverage.