May 27, 2010

By Jeff Arnold
Special to NCAA.com

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Her no-hitter was gone, but the scoreboard cushion Ivy Renfroe had to work with was still very much intact.

The Tennessee freshman faced 22 Michigan hitters before allowing a hit as the 15th-seeded Volunteers shocked the No. 2 Wolverines 5-0 Thursday night in the first game of the best-of-three super regional at Alumni Field. The win snapped Michigan's 36-game home winning streak, which dated back to the 2008 super regionals.

Renfroe, who struck out eight in the complete-game two-hitter, coasted into the seventh inning before Michigan's Dorian Shaw ended her no-hit bid with a one-out single.

It didn't come close to fazing Renfroe, who had already thrown a no-hitter this year against Western Carolina and who hasn't allowed a run in 20 1/3 innings.

"I talked to God and I said, 'I don't deserve a no-hitter,' " Renfroe said. "It worked out, but I was like, 'It's OK if they get a hit in the seventh inning. I just said, 'Keep pitching and finish the game.'"

Despite giving up two straight hits in the seventh, Renfroe overpowered Michigan (49-7), which hadn't been shut out since last year's College World Series.

Tennessee (46-13) jumped to a 3-0 lead in the third inning, capitalizing on a Michigan error before Kelly Grieve delivered a two-out, two-run single.

Grieve came through again in the fifth with another two-out RBI single that extended Tennessee's lead to 4-0. The Volunteers' fifth run came on an illegal pitch by Michigan starter Jordan Taylor, who struck out 10.

Between uncharacteristic errors and an offense that couldn't figure out Renfroe, the Wolverines never made a serious push. Michigan had only five base runners all night and didn't advance a runner into scoring position until the seventh inning.

"Our offense was down, and therefore our team got down," Michigan coach Carol Hutchins said. "That's the last thing you want to have happen. So we're going to have to be in better battle mode come tomorrow."

Renfroe kept Michigan off balance all night, hitting her spots while topping out her fastball in the upper 60s. As solid as she was, though, Renfroe remained focused. She admitted thinking about the no-hitter into the fifth inning but did not let herself think about all of the experienced offensive weapons in Michigan's lineup.

"I just went out there and played like I know I can play," she said. "Anything can happen, especially against Michigan, and so I never thought, 'Oh, I've got it' at all because they could come back at any time.

"You can't think about them being Michigan and the No. 2 team in the country. I just went out and pitched like I knew I could."

As big as the upset was for the Volunteers, coach Ralph Weekly wouldn't allow his team to put too much stock in shutting down Michigan. Though they faced a team that has hit 81 home runs and possesses an offense able to break out anytime, the Volunteers realize they can't stamp their ticket to Oklahoma City just yet.

"We just won a game against a really good team," Weekly said. "We haven't won anything else. There's still one or two games before this thing's decided."

And for Michigan, which now needs to win two straight Friday against Tennessee, the challenge is clearly laid out if the Wolverines hope to advance to another College World Series.

"I thought we were ready to go," Hutchins said. "This team is very experienced, and they know what's at stake. When we fell behind, we just didn't battle, and that's just not acceptable."