Sophomore Raven Chavanne
April 23, 2011
By Brian Davis, Assistant Media Relations Director
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - In front of the third sellout crowd of the season (1,649) on Saturday afternoon at the Lee Softball Stadium, a three-run top of the second inning proved just enough as Mississippi State put an end to #4 Tennessee's (41-7, 17-5 Southeastern Conference) season-long, 13-game winning streak by posting a 3-2 victory.
Prior to the contest the Big Orange celebrated the "Senior Day" of center fielder Kelly Grieve, honoring the Asheville, N.C., native for her outstanding contributions to the Lady Vol program.
UT freshman starter Ellen Renfroe suffered her first defeat in the circle since March 13, allowing three tallies on four hits with three walks and a K over two innings of work. The Jackson, Tenn., native had been 11-0 over 18 previous appearances, since a 5-4, 10-inning loss at #23 Kentucky, with a 0.71 ERA and 126 K's in 89.1 innings prior to Saturday's loss to the Bulldogs. She had also fired complete games during each of her 10 previous starts in the circle.
Sophomore Ivy Renfroe tossed five frames of scoreless two-hit relief while issuing a pair of walks and striking out seven. In the process, the 6-0 right hander improved her consecutive streak of allowing no earned runs to 30.2.
At the plate sophomore left fielder Raven Chavanne was 3-for-4 on the day with a run scored and her squad-high 28th stolen base of the season. Over the weekend, the Thousand Oaks, Calif., product led the Lady Vols by hitting .800 (8-of-10) overall with a triple and four thefts. Junior third baseman Jessica Spigner posted a 1-for-2 effort with her 40th RBI of the year. Grieve knocked in a tally on her "Senior Day" via a second inning sacrifice fly.
"Today was all about Mississippi State," Lady Vol Co-Head Coach Ralph Weekly said. "They wanted this game more than we did. They came out and threw some punches at us early, and we didn't answer. I think since we're so young, our 13-game win streak sort of went to our heads a little. I'm really very proud of our team, but when they are young like this, you have to learn the hard way sometimes."
Right from the start you got the idea today might be different for the Bulldog offense as shortstop Ali Bainbridge christened the top of the first with a double to right center. Right fielder Briana Bell managed a free pass to put a pair on with still no one retired in the frame. Ellen Renfroe responded to the threat, however, handling a bouncer back to the circle and nailing the lead runner at third for a big initial out. From there first baseman Courtney Nesbit popped up into foul ground outside of third and catcher Sam Lenahan went down swinging to leave the duo stranded.
For the second consecutive day Tennessee quickly got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the first. An infield single from Chavanne, a stolen base and a fly ball to right by Grieve proved plenty to station the UT occupant at third with one retired. Sophomore second baseman Lauren Gibson walked and junior first baseman Shelby Burchell was struck by a pitch from MSU starter Stephanie Becker to load the bags. Spigner stepped to the plate and ripped an RBI single through the infield as Chavanne scored from 60 feet away to make it 1-0. Unfortunately, a fielder's choice that cut down the lead runner at the plate and a strikeout left the bases juiced.
The crucial inning proved to be the second as Mississippi State managed three runs on three hits in the top of the frame. Second baseman Heidi Shape opened the attack with a slow rolling grounder to short that she managed to beat out for a hit. Third baseman Chelsea Raines lifted a short pop-up towards second that was nabbed on a bounce by Gibson. The Pasadena, Md., product threw to first for the out as Shape advanced into scoring position. A walk by designated player Shelby Fisher, a fly out to left by pinch hitter Jessica Cooley and a free pass issued to Bainbridge loaded the bases with two outs. That's when Bell contributed the biggest hit of the day, driving a two-RBI double to left as MSU plated its initial runs of the series. Left fielder Ka'ili Smith kept the pressure on with an RBI single through the left side of the infield. Bainbridge scored on the hit to make it 3-1, but Chavanne gunned out Bell at the plate on a strong throw to conclude the scoring.
Tennessee's offense answered right back in the bottom of the second with a tally on two hits. Sophomore right fielder Kat Dotson christened the threat with a perfect bunt single. The Savannah, Ga., native easily advanced to third on a base knock from Chavanne as the trailing UT speedster smartly rolled into second on a fruitless attempt to get Dotson. Grieve drilled a shot to the outfield that proved deep enough to score Dotson and cut the deficit to 3-2. Unfortunately, Chavanne was cut down attempting to advance up 60 feet on the original throw home as the inning came to a sudden conclusion.
After Ivy Renfroe was summoned in to start the top of the third and retired the Bulldogs in order to settle the contest down, the Lady Vols began working to find the equalizer in the bottom half. In perhaps a sign of the day it would eventually prove to be, Gibson, Burchell and Spigner each blasted consecutive shots deep into the outfield that were caught on or near the Lee Stadium warning track.
Another lead-off single from UT's Chavanne, a sac bunt by Grieve, a walk to Gibson and an intentional free pass issued to Spigner loaded the bases with two retired in the bottom of the fifth. Unfortunately, a first-pitch swing by a Lady Vol resulted in a harmless fly ball that left the bags packed for the second time in the contest.
In the top of the seventh the Bulldogs nearly managed some insurance on the scoreboard as a UT fielding error on a Bainbridge bouncer and back-to-back singles from Bell and Smith packed the bases full with just one out. Ivy Renfroe refused to budge, however, keeping her team within a single run by recording consecutive strikeouts of Nesbit and Lenahan.
With one final chance to tie the match-up or perhaps rescue a win, Chavanne and Grieve flew out consecutively to deep right for two quick outs. Gibson extended the contest with a base knock through the infield, but a Lady Vol K granted Mississippi State its hard-earned victory.
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