May 19, 2012
By Brian Rice
Knoxville, Tenn. -- It could have been her last day as a Lady Vol. Instead, Shelby Burchell made Saturday into one of her best days wearing the Orange and White in a pair of 8-0 wins over UAB (5 inn.) and Miami University (6 inn.).
The senior from Columbia, Tenn., represented her home state by going 3-for-3 in the win over UAB, and followed it up by picking up another hit in the day's second elimination game against Miami. Burchell totaled two RBIs on the day and reached base a total of five times in seven plate appearances.
"We came together with Ralph and Karen (Weekly) and talked about the game plan we would go with and some small changes we wanted to make in batting practice," Burchell said. "I feel like that made the difference and brought a fresh look at my at bats, kind of going a new route."
In the opener with UAB, Burchell's three hits all proved to be crucial. Her two-out single in the second inning advanced Melissa Brown into scoring position to set up fellow senior Ashley Andrews' RBI single that scored the first Lady Vol run in the 2012 NCAA Tournament. Burchell then led off the fourth inning with a double and came around to score on Kat Dotson's two-RBI single, also with two outs. An inning later, Burchell's third hit of the game drove in Brown, and Burchell later came around to score on Raven Chavanne's two-RBI single that gave UT the 8-0 lead.
"I worked out a little bit with Shelby this morning," Tennessee Co-Head Coach Ralph Weekly said. "To be very honest with you, I thought it would motivate Shelby a little to drop her down a couple spots in the batting order. I didn't think it would motivate her that much," he said with a chuckle. "But I was happy to see what she did."
In the nightcap against Miami, Burchell's only hit drove in Tennessee's second run after Lauren Gibson has reached on a three-base error by Redhawk left fielder Shanyn McIntyre. In the sixth inning, Burchell took a 1-0 pitch off the helmet to extend the inning and load the bases for Brown, whose two-RBI single provided the winning margin.
"I can't really put it into words," Burchell said reflecting back on the performance. "It's excitement, it's fire, it's being able to pay back my teammates that came before me that got that big hit, walk, whatever it was, and knowing that I'm doing my job. My role is to come in and hit, that's what I'm called in to do, so just to know that I've done that for my team and they have my back and I have theirs, there's no better feeling."
Weekly said the offensive effort the team put up was a result of getting back to what the team does best, and having the confidence to execute it.
"We said last night we weren't done yet," Weekly said. "These girls have a lot of resolve, and a lot of ability, and a lot of talent, and they came out today determined. I thought both of our opponents played well and deserve a lot of credit, but I think you saw Tennessee Softball today."