May 21, 2010
By Brian Davis, Assistant Media Relations Director
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - A two-run homer from freshman second baseman Lauren Gibson was the big blow, backing a four-hit, complete-game shutout by rookie hurler Ivy Renfroe as No. 16/15 Tennessee (43-13) opened its participation at the NCAA Knoxville Regional on Friday night at the Lee Softball Stadium with a 5-0 victory over Ball State (43-15).
Renfroe was outstanding from the circle for the Big Orange in improving to 27-4 on the season, allowing just four hits while issuing a walk and tallying seven strikeouts.
Gibson blasted her sixth home run of the campaign as part of a 1-for-2, two-RBI effort at the plate, while sophomore third baseman Jessica Spigner (1-for-3, double, RBI), senior catcher Tiffany Huff (1-for-3, RBI) and sophomore shortstop Ashley Andrews (0-for-1, RBI) each knocked in single runs in the contest. Junior center fielder Kelly Grieve recorded her 11th double of the season during her 1-for-2, run scored performance, freshman left fielder Raven Chavanne was a perfect 2-for-2 at the plate with a tally and both freshman right fielder Kat Dotson (1-for-2) and senior first baseman Erinn Webb (1-for-3, run) each contributed a base knock.
"I'll tell you, ever since the draw, we've been scheming for Ball State," Lady Vol co-head coach Ralph Weekly said. "Because, very honestly, they're a really good team. They just didn't get on track today. That's partly due to Ivy Renfroe--probably mostly due to Ivy Renfroe. But they've got a really good team. They had beaten a very good Missouri team, which was in the (Women's College) World Series last year and lost a one-run game to Northwestern. They have a speed game. They have a really good pitcher. We worked all week to prepare our kids, and the kids came through. I thought we had a good game plan, and I thought they executed it really well."
Despite allowing a two-out single to Ball State shortstop Alicia Barkley in the top of the first, Renfroe set an early tone by tallying a pair of strikeouts during the opening frame.
The Big Orange offense wasted no time jumping on Cardinal hurler Elizabeth Milian, putting up a trio of runs in the bottom half of the first on two hits to mark the 27th time in 2010 that UT scored during its initial at-bat. Chavanne got the outburst started with a walk and advanced to second on a passed ball charged to BSU catcher Sadie Robertson. Following a Dotson free pass and a UT pop-up, Spigner drilled a one-out two-bagger into the gap in right center to plate Chavanne for a 1-0 lead. Dotson attempted to score on the play but was cut down on a relay throw to the plate from second baseman Meredith Nash. Gibson stepped up with two retired and crushed a change-up deep to right center to make it 3-0, Tennessee.
With Renfroe cruising from the circle despite getting a 20-pitch battle that resulted in a walk from Robertson in the top half of the third, the Orange & White nearly added to its lead in the bottom of the frame. A Dotson infield single and walks issued to Grieve and Gibson loaded the bases with two outs and Huff coming to bat. The Saugus, Calif., native hammered a towering shot to left center that threatened to leave the park. Unfortunately, the ball was caught about half way up the wall by center fielder Lisa Rozanski as UT just missed a grand slam.
A Webb lead-off base knock back through the middle got a scoring threat started in the fourth for Tennessee. On a sac bunt by sophomore designated player Shelby Burchell, a hustling Webb managed to race all the way into third base safely. That set the stage for a perfect sacrifice bunt towards first by Andrews, and suddenly it was a four-run Big Orange advantage as Webb crossed home plate.
Grieve opened the fifth with a slap double that dropped just inside the chalk down the left field line. After the Asheville, N.C., speedster moved to third on a groundout, she easily scored on a Huff base knock to second as the lead improved to 5-0.
The only real trouble Renfroe got into during the contest came during the Ball State sixth inning. Following a tremendous catch while crashing into the wall in left by sophomore Holly Baker, UT's 5-10 hurler allowed back-to-back doubles by Rozanski and Barkley. With the lead runner for the Cardinals forced to hold at third on the latter of the two-baggers, Amanda Carpenter had a chance to cut into the Tennessee lead but struck out swinging to leave the duo stranded on the base paths.
Despite a two-out single up the middle by BSU designated player Amanda Montalto in the top of the seventh, Renfroe closed the contest out by getting Nash to fly out to the always-reliable Grieve in center field.
Tennessee will now face Virginia in the winner's bracket contest on Sat., May 22nd, at 1 p.m. ET, while Louisville and Ball State are slated for a 3:30 p.m. ET elimination contest.