April 16, 2011
By Brian Davis, Assistant Media Relations Director
BATON ROUGE, La. - Another pitching gem by freshman Ellen Renfroe and a tone-setting, fourth-inning grand slam from rookie shortstop Madison Shipman helped #6 Tennessee (36-6, 13-4 Southeastern Conference) end #19 LSU's (26-13, 8-7 SEC) 11-game winning streak with a 6-0 victory on Friday night in front of 1,326 fans at Tiger Park in Baton Rouge, La.
The contest's start (7:23 p.m. CT) was delayed approximately one hour and 23 minutes after a severe storm moved through the local area during the scheduled team warm-up period.
In the process UT improved its winning skein to eight games, dating back to an 8-0 (6 inn.) victory over #22 Auburn on April 3.
"This was a great pitcher's duel between a pair of outstanding young pitchers in Ellen Renfroe and Brittany Mack," Lady Vol Co-Head Coach Ralph Weekly said. "We got some clutch hits from Madison Shipman and Shelby Burchell, and that proved to be the difference in the game. This is going to be a really tough series."
Shipman's grand slam, the first of her career and UT's fifth of the season, marked her only hit in three at-bats but the shot on a 0-1 pitch from Mack granted the Big Orange a huge 4-0 lead in the top of the fourth. The Valencia, Calif., native's contribution at the plate came despite her constant battle with an injured left shoulder and fractured left hand/wrist that occurred back in February.
Junior left fielder Shelby Burchell delivered a 1-for-3 effort with a big two-RBI single during the top of the fifth to expand UT's advantage to 6-0. Sophomore third baseman Raven Chavanne (3-for-4, run scored) posted three of Tennessee's six total hits in the contest.
Renfroe continued her amazing rookie campaign in the circle, improving to 20-2 overall with a 1.19 ERA by tossing a three-hit, complete-game shutout with 12 strikeouts. The Jackson, Tenn., native is now 7-1 in league action and hit the 200-strikeout mark for the season in the triumph.
The match-up started out as a pitcher's duel between Renfroe and Mack as both teams managed several base runners but couldn't string anything together to break the scoreless dead lock. Included during the opening three frames were a pair of singles from Chavanne and yet another caught stealing by junior catcher Ashley Andrews. By gunning down center fielder Simone Heyward on a steal attempt during the bottom of the second, it marked the ninth caught stealing over the last 13 steal attempts from the arm of UT's back stop.
A dropped throw at first by LSU's Heidi Pizer on a Burchell bouncer back to the circle with one out in the top of the fourth opened the door for Tennessee's fireworks. With two retired and Burchell standing at first, junior designated player Jessica Spigner walked and freshman first baseman Melissa Davin was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Shipman stepped to the plate and crushed a 0-1 pitch well over the Tiger Park wall for her first career grand slam as the Lady Vols nabbed a vital 4-0 lead.
Attempting to claw back into the match-up, LSU managed a one-out base runner in the bottom of the fourth as third baseman Anissa Young was hit by a Renfroe offering. Left fielder Ashley Langoni lifted a pop-up behind the plate as Andrews fought past the home plate ump and managed to make the catch for the second out. On the play, however, pinch runner Alex Boulet managed to advance and become the first Tiger runner in scoring position against UT's 6-0 right hander. Renfroe responded immediately by striking out shortstop Tammy Wray to conclude the frame.
Back-to-back singles from Chavanne and senior center fielder Kelly Grieve and a Mack wild pitch put Lady Vol speedsters on second and third with no one out in the top of the fifth. After a Tennessee pop-up, Burchell drove a clutch, two-RBI single through the infield to expand the UT advantage to 6-0.
With a big lead on the scoreboard it was left to Renfroe to see about finishing off the Bayou Bengals. She struck out a pair during the bottom of the fifth, and despite allowing a lead-off bunt single to right fielder Tiffany Shaw, K'ed the LSU side in the sixth to give her 11 strikeouts to that point.
The Tiger offense finally got a little something going in the bottom of the seventh as Langoni christened the frame with a single to left and then pinch hitter Jacee Blades drew a two-out walk. With LSU runners occupying first and second, Renfroe coerced a routine bouncer to second by designated player Morgan Russell to wrap up Tennessee's series-opening victory.
#6 Tennessee continues its three-game series against #19 LSU at Tiger Park on Saturday at Noon ET with the live television broadcast slated for ESPN2 with Beth Mowins and Jessica Mendoza on the call. All three match-ups during the weekend are scheduled for radio broadcast via "The Sports Animal" (either 99.1/99.3 FM or AM 990) with Jeff Jacoby and are available for free 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.