Sophomore Kat Dotson
May 7, 2011
By Brian Davis, Assistant Media Relations Director
GAINESVILLE, Fla. - On Saturday afternoon in front of 1,359 fans at Pressly Stadium in Gainesville, Fla., No. 4 Florida (46-8, 20-7 Southeastern Conference) utilized a two-run, first-inning HR from left fielder Kelsey Bruder to top No. 3 Tennessee (44-9, 20-7 SEC), 2-0.
As a result of UF's victories in each of the first two games in its series against UT, Sunday's finale will now be a battle for the 2011 SEC Eastern Division title. Both teams would also need a loss by Alabama to Ole Miss to have any chance to nab the league's regular season crown.
Sophomore pitcher Ivy Renfroe threw well for the Lady Vols from the circle, allowing two runs on just five hits with four walks and five strikeouts in taking a tough defeat to fall to 17-4 overall and 9-3 in league action.
With a 2-for-3 performance at the dish, sophomore right fielder Kat Dotson led the Big Orange offense, while junior first baseman Shelby Burchell and junior third baseman Jessica Spigner each went 1-for-3 with a double. Senior center fielder Kelly Grieve and sophomore second baseman Lauren Gibson both posted one of UT's five total hits in the match-up. Sophomore Raven Chavanne failed to reach in the contest, ending her career-best hitting streak at 15 games.
Tennessee managed a one-out base runner in the top of the first as Dotson ripped a single back up the middle past UF second baseman Aja Paculba. Unfortunately, the Savannah, Ga., native was promptly thrown out on a steal attempt by Florida catcher Tiffany DeFelice, clearing the base paths of Lady Vols. A pop-up to second by Grieve ended the inning with no damage.
The Gators wasted no time getting on the scoreboard in the bottom of the first as a one-out single down the left field line by Paculba was cashed via a two-run HR to left center by UF's Bruder as Florida nabbed a quick 2-0 advantage. Renfroe responded to the adversity by catching right fielder Brittany Schutte swinging at strike three. UT's 6-0 right hander then coerced an inning-ending pop-up to second by UF career home run leader and first baseman Megan Bush.
With the Orange looking to respond immediately during the top of the second, Gibson did her best to get something started for Tennessee by lacing a lead-off single through the right side of the infield. The Pasadena, Md., native swiped her 11th base of the season to reach scoring position with one down. She was left stranded right there, however, as an infield pop-up by the first-pitch swinging Burchell and a fly ball to center by freshman designated player Melissa Davin retired the Big Orange.
A lead-off bloop single to short left by UF's DeFelice and a walk to shortstop Cheyenne Coyle once again got the Gators in business christening the bottom of the second. Third baseman Kasey Fagan dropped a sac bunt into a tough spot as Spigner was forced to charge in from her defensive position. The UT third baseman managed to make a reaching grab and tossed on to Burchell for the first retirement of the frame as the runners advanced up 60 feet. Renfroe got a big strikeout of designated player Ensley Gammel, but then walked center fielder Michelle Moultrie to pack the bags full of Gators. Undaunted, the hurler coerced a "can of corn" to right off the bat of Paculba that was corralled by Dotson as UF missed a golden opportunity to add to its advantage.
Tennessee's defense got into the act during the bottom of the third after Renfroe had walked Schutte with one down in the frame. Bush laced a grounder to short that Shipman corralled. The Valencia, Calif., product fired to Gibson at second, who quickly pivoted and completed an inning-ending, 6-4-3 double play via a strong toss to Burchell at first.
With one retired in the top of the fourth, Grieve delivered a one-out base knock on the infield to get an offensive chance started for the Lady Vols. Following a fielder's choice to short off the bat of Gibson that retired the lead runner, Spigner ripped a shot just inside the first base bag that rolled down the right field line for a double. Gibson raced around third with her eye set on scoring but was gunned out via a perfect relay from Schutte to Paculba to DeFelice as UT was kept off the scoreboard.
Paculba ripped a shot back to the circle for a one-out single in the bottom of the fifth. Following a fielder's choice that cut down the lead Gator runner, Schutte managed a walk to put a pair aboard with two retired. A wild pitch advanced both runners up 60 feet into scoring position, but UT's Shipman was positioned perfectly at short to conclude the inning by handling a liner off the bat of Bush.
Following an infield base knock off the bat of Dotson with two outs in the top of the sixth, Grieve nearly delivered the game-tying HR. Unfortunately, the Asheville, N.C., native's two-out drive to right center was caught at the base of the wall by Moultrie.
After UF left a potential insurance tally standing at second in the sixth, UT came to the plate with one final chance to extend the contest or perhaps get a late lead in the top of the seventh. With two retired Burchell granted the Lady Vols hope by driving a shot just over the glove of leaping shortstop Coyle that rolled to the wall in left center for a double. A strikeout would end the contest, though, as Gator freshman pitcher Hannah Rogers finished off the contest with her fourth K.
No. 3 Tennessee concludes its series at No. 4 Florida on Sun., May 8, at 3 p.m. ET live on ESPNU with Beth Mowins, Michele Smith and Charlotte Morgan on the call. Radio will be available with the "Voice of the Lady Vols" Mickey Dearstone via "The Sports Animal" (99.1/99.3 FM or AM 990) as well as 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.