April 3, 2010
By Brian Davis, Assistant Media Relations Director
COLUMBIA, S.C. - No. 16 Tennessee (28-7, 9-3 Southeastern Conference) picked up its 17th consecutive victory over South Carolina, but it wasn't easy as the Lady Vols posted a 3-1 triumph over the Gamecocks on a hot Saturday afternoon at Beckham Field in Columbia, S.C.
Senior catcher Tiffany Huff (1-for-4), freshman second baseman Lauren Gibson (1-for-4) and senior first baseman Erinn Webb (1-for-3, double) each recorded single RBIs in the match-up. Freshman left fielder Raven Chavanne (2-for-3) led the offense with two of the Big Orange's seven total hits. Tennessee also registered four stolen bases in the contest.
UT sophomore starting pitcher Cat Hosfield improved to 11-4 on the year, permitting no earned runs on four hits with three K's over five innings of work. Freshman hurler Ivy Renfroe picked up her second career save after allowing just two hits and striking out four in two frames of relief.
Following a quiet first inning, sophomore third baseman Jessica Spigner became the contest's first base runner by drawing a one-out walk in the top of the second against Gamecock hurler April Borchardt. After a Lady Vol K, sophomore designated player Shelby Burchell also reached via a free pass. With a pair aboard and two retired, Webb battled to a 2-2 count before lifting a ball just over the first baseman and down the right field line for a two-bagger as Spigner rounded third to score the game's initial run.
In the circle for the Big Orange, Hosfield was cruising early. The Murfreesboro, Tenn., native retired the first six batters she faced during the opening two frames including left fielder Kaitlin Westfall and shortstop Evan Childs on looking strikeouts.
The Tennessee speed game finally got off and running starting the third as Chavanne and junior center fielder Kelly Grieve opened the frame with consecutive singles. With one out Huff stepped to the plate and ripped a base knock back through the middle to plate Chavanne from second for a 2-0 UT lead. Later in the frame Gibson just missed a three-run home run to deep center as her high fly was caught at the base of the wall by South Carolina's Adele Voigt to conclude the inning.
The Garnet and Black managed its first hit and base runner of the match-up on what amounted to a swinging lead-off bunt in the bottom of the third. The ball settled right out in front of the plate on a full swing by right fielder Lauren Lackey. Nothing came of the base runner, however, as a fly out to left, a sac bunt that moved the occupant into scoring position and a liner to Ashley Andrews at short left the S.C. runner stranded.
After the UT offense left the bases juiced with two outs in the top of the fourth, South Carolina managed to cut into its deficit in the bottom half. The Gamecocks got a single up the middle from Borchardt to begin the frame. A slow chopper to second advanced the runner into scoring position with just one down. After catcher P. J. Fulmer grounded out to third, a stolen base on a ball in the dirt and a Tennessee throwing error on the play allowed Borchardt the opportunity to score and cut the gap to 2-1.
Lackey slapped a single just over a leaping Spigner at third and down the left field line with one out in the bottom of the fifth. Another slap hit to virtually the same spot, this one by Voigt, and all of a sudden it was a full-blown Gamecock rally with two on base and one out in a one-run contest. Hosfield settled things down by forcing pinch hitter Briana Hamilton to pop up to Gibson at second and then got third baseman Hannah Milks swinging for a huge inning-ending K.
Chavanne tallied Tennessee's first hit since the third inning on a slap single back through the middle with two down in the sixth. Unfortunately, after a stolen base (Chavanne's team-best 21st of the season), a Lady Vol strikeout left the runner standing out at second as the lead remained just 2-1.
The decision was made to summon Renfroe into the circle for a relief appearance in the bottom of the sixth. After retiring Borchardt with some help from Grieve in center as the outfielder made an outstanding running catch on a sharp liner, the 5-10 right hander permitted back-to-back singles through the right side by S. C. first baseman Laura Mendes and Fulmer. With Gamecock runners occupying the corners and just one retired, Renfroe picked up huge back-to-back strikeouts, catching Westfall looking and then blowing strike three past Childs to leave the tying run standing just 60 feet from paydirt.
With UT really wanting some insurance on the scoreboard in such a tight contest, Dotson started something by christening the top of the seventh by beating out a perfect bunt out in front of the plate. The Savannah, Ga., native immediately took off for second, swiping her 18th base of the campaign. On a high fly out to right, the runner improved to third as Gibson came to the plate with two retired. The Pasadena, Md., product came through in an important spot, driving a Borchardt offering through the left side of the infield for an RBI single as Dotson scored easily to make it 3-1.
Lackey opened the Garnet & Black's last chance in the bottom of the seventh by bouncing out to short as Andrews made a solid play and a strong throw to nail the runner at first. Renfroe sealed the deal on the win and her second save of the season by striking out Voigt and Hamilton back-to-back.
No. 16 Tennessee wraps up its three-game Eastern Division set at South Carolina with the final game of its Saturday, April 3 doubleheader at Beckham Field in Columbia, S.C., at approximately 3:45 p.m. ET. The schedule for the weekend was altered from its usual Saturday-Sunday league set-up because of the Easter holiday. Live stats are available via Gametracker through utladyvols.com and live audio will be available for both ends of 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.