May 20, 2011
Tennessee's postgame NCAA Press Conference
By Brian Davis, Assistant Media Relations Director
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - In front of the sixth sell-out crowd (1,649 fans) of the season at the Lee Softball Stadium on Friday evening, No. 5 Tennessee (48-10) utilized more of its offense's vaunted two-out scoring magic to back the third no-hitter of sophomore pitcher Ivy Renfroe's career as UT rolled to an 8-0 (5 inn.) triumph over Liberty (30-29) in its opener at the NCAA Knoxville Regional.
The Lady Vols scored all eight of their runs with two outs in an inning, raising the team's total of two-out season RBIs to a staggering 151 overall.
UT freshman shortstop Madison Shipman (1-for-3, four RBIs) finished off a two-out, seven-tally Big Orange offensive outburst during the bottom of the fifth with a grand slam, the second of her career, as UT secured its 13th walk-off triumph of 2011.
The Lady Vol speed game was at its havoc-producing best against the Flames as sophomore left fielder Raven Chavanne (2-for-3, steal, run), sophomore right fielder Kat Dotson (2-for-3, RBI, two runs, steal) and senior center fielder Kelly Grieve (2-for-3, RBI, run, two steals) combined for six of Tennessee's eight total hits in the contest and four of UT's five total thefts. Sophomore second baseman Lauren Gibson was 1-for-3 and contributed a two-RBI single, while junior first baseman Shelby Burchell walked twice and swiped her first base of the campaign.
In improving to 18-4 overall on the season, Ivy Renfroe walked just one Liberty batter and faced only two above the minimum with six strikeouts in tossing her second no-hitter of 2011 and the third of her career (Western Carolina on April 8, 2010; Mississippi State on April 22, 2011).
"I'm very proud of this team," Lady Vol Co-Head Coach Ralph Weekly said. "We struggled early. Liberty did a great job, they had a good pitching plan and their pitchers really challenged us. The thing about this young Tennessee team--I want to emphasize young team--is that it never quits. We have a little saying, `find a way.' Today we found a way. We were kind of down a little bit and then boom. The key to it all is that Ivy (Renfroe) gave us a chance."
After a dominant one-two-three top of the first for Renfroe, the Lady Vol offense managed a scoring opportunity in the bottom half. Chavanne christened the frame with a bunt single and quickly swiped second to reach scoring position with none retired. Following a UT groundout, Grieve battled Liberty starting pitcher Katrina Johnson over an 11-pitch at-bat before bouncing out as Chavanne quickly moved 60 feet to third. Burchell drew a free pass to place Big Orange occupants at the corners with two outs, but a Tennessee strikeout left the duo stranded in scoring position.
Liberty managed its first base runner of the contest on a bouncer by shortstop Sammi Shivock that was thrown away at first for an error leading off the top of the third. A walk issued to Flame catcher Keely McMillon put a pair aboard as LU registered a full blown scoring chance with no one yet retired. After a sacrifice bunt advanced both occupants into scoring position with one down, Ashley Bensinger chopped a ball to third. Big Orange junior Jessica Spigner nabbed the sphere, checked the runner back to third and fired across the diamond to Burchell for a vital second out. Renfroe caught right fielder Jenny Law looking at strike three to keep Liberty from causing any scoreboard damage.
Having escaped a jam in the top half of the third, Tennessee finally broke in front in the bottom half with a two-out rally. Dotson got things started with an infield single and stolen base. Grieve stepped to the plate and ripped a base knock through the infield to bring across UT's initial tally of the match-up.
With Renfroe cruising from the circle by retiring six straight Flame batters over the fourth and fifth frames, UT exploded for seven runs on five hits in the bottom of the fifth to bring the run-rule into play.
Following a pair of Lady Vol groundouts, Chavanne got the penultimate outburst started with an infield single, advancing to second on a throwing error by third baseman Bensinger. Dotson delivered a RBI single to make it 2-0 and then advanced to third on a base hit off the bat of Grieve. With runners standing at the corners, Grieve swiped second and then Burchell walked to pack the bags full of Lady Vols. Gibson made it 4-0 on a two-RBI single through the infield as Grieve and Dotson sped across the plate. That ended the night in the circle for Johnson as Liberty reliever Tiffani Smith was summoned in from the bullpen. She immediately issued a walk to Spigner to re-load the bases for Shipman. The rookie from Valencia, Calif., blasted a shot on a line drive that just cleared the Lee Stadium wall for a grand slam to bring a sudden end to the proceedings as the contest concluded after five frames, 8-0.
No. 5 Tennessee returns to action on Sat., May 21, in winner's bracket action at the Knoxville Regional by facing #22/25 Oklahoma State (38-17) at 2 p.m. ET. The contest will be shown live via ESPN3.com with Dan Parkhurst and Amanda Freed on the call, while "The Sports Animal" (99.1/99.3 FM or AM 990) will have the radio broadcast with "The Voice of the Lady Vols" Mickey Dearstone on the microphone. Check both http://twitter.com/LadyVol_Sftball and http://twitter.com/LadyVol_Sports for the most up-to-date information on Tennessee softball.
2011 Knoxville Regional
Friday, May 20
4 p.m. ET Georgia Tech vs. Oklahoma State (Oklahoma State, 2-1)
6:30 p.m. ET Liberty vs. Tennessee (Tennessee, 8-0 in 5 inn.)
Saturday, May 21
2 p.m. ET Oklahoma State vs. Tennessee (Game Three)
4:30 p.m. ET Liberty vs. Georgia Tech (Game Four)
7 p.m. ET Loser Game Three/Winner Game Four (Game Five)
Sunday, May 22
2 p.m. ET Winner Game Three/Winner Game Five (Game Six)
4:30 p.m. ET (if necessary) Rematch of Game Six