May 20, 2012
By Brian Rice
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- As they had a day earlier, Kat Dotson and the Lady Volunteers faced elimination twice on Sunday afternoon at Lee Stadium, but a key hit from Dotson's bat helped UT stave off elimination in game one, then was a part of an offensive explosion in game two that powered the Big Orange to a NCAA super regional berth.
The junior hit at a .421 clip on the weekend, collected a team-high eight hits and drove in four runs.
"I made a lot of changes from last night and Friday," Dotson said. "I just came out with an aggressive mindset, and it paid off."
Dotson started off 0-2 in the opener Sunday when she stepped to the plate with runners at first and third after two-out hits from Tory Lewis and Raven Chavanne in the fifth inning. Dotson laced a single up the middle to plate Lewis and give Tennessee a 2-0 lead. That insurance run off Dotson's bat turned out to be vitally important for the Lady Vols' season when Virginia Tech's Logan Spaw singled in Kat Banks in the top of the seventh. Ivy Renfroe shut the door from there for a 2-1 win to force a deciding second game.
Earlier in the VT seventh, Dotson made a running grab on a flare by Betty Rose for the first out in the inning, one of several impressive grabs on the day by the right fielder.
"I didn't get a lot of plays (in the field)," Dotson said. "On the ones I did, I made sure I did what I was supposed to and made the plays I was supposed to."
In the second game, Dotson had her most impressive offense effort of the tournament thus far, going 3-5 with three singles as part of a season-high 16 hits for Tennessee. She picked up the first of those 16 hits with a first-inning bunt that died just feet from home plate. Dotson was running past first base before a Hokie defender could even reach the ball. Later, Dotson led off the fourth with a single and drove in the game's final run with her third base knock through the right side.
"I said Friday night that we weren't done." Tennessee co-head coach Ralph Weekly said. "It's all about players, and I know that is what coaches always say, but it's the truth. It's all about players. These kids refused to lose. They wanted to advance, they wanted to play in the Super Regional and they did everything they needed to do to do it."
Playing five games in three days, including facing elimination in four of those, took a physical and mental toll on the team, but Dotson said after it was over, the test can only help the team going forward.
"I don't remember the last time we played this many games in this many days," she said. "But it will really prepare us for the weeks to come and mentally make us stronger. We've done things other teams haven't, so I think it'll help us in the long run. We're ready for a challenge any day."