June 3, 2010
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – In front of a massive crowd on a muggy Thursday night at the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, Okla., No. 15 Tennessee (48-13) continued its amazing perfect run through the NCAA Tournament by opening the program’s fourth trip to the Women’s College World Series with a staggering 9-0 (5 inn.) run-rule victory over No. 3 Arizona (48-12).
The Big Orange will play the winner of tonight’s Washington-Georgia contest on Friday night at 9:30 p.m. ET live on ESPN HD or ESPN3.com with Beth Mowins and Jessica Mendoza on the call.
UT has never lost its opening contest at the annual WCWS (now 4-0), having previously defeated No. 3 Arizona (1-0 in 2005), No. 1 UCLA (4-3 in 2006) and No. 7 Texas A&M (2-0 in 2007). The Big Orange is 11-6 all-time at the WCWS and now owns a 5-3 advantage in its series versus the Wildcats at collegiate softball’s premier event.
Freshman starting pitcher Ivy Renfroe kept on rolling for Tennessee in the postseason, firing a complete-game, three-hitter with six strikeouts in improving to 30-4 on the season. She joins former Lady Vol Monica Abbott as the only UT pitchers to ever post 30 wins in a single campaign and also to register a pitching win in the WCWS.
Senior first baseman Erinn Webb and sophomore third baseman Jessica Spigner each went 1-for-2 at the plate with a double and two RBIs to lead the Lady Vol offense. Freshman second baseman Lauren Gibson and senior designated player Nicole Kajitani also knocked in single runs as part of 1-for-3 efforts. Freshman right fielder Kat Dotson, senior catcher Tiffany Huff and junior center fielder Kelly Grieve all scored twice in the contest, while rookie left fielder Raven Chavanne reached three different times, twice by walk and once via a hit by pitch, from her lead-off spot in the order.
With the assistance of three illegal pitches by Arizona starter Kenzie Fowler, Chavanne opened the WCWS contest with a walk. The speedster from Thousand Oaks, Calif., swiped her team-best 36th base of the season to reach scoring position, but got thrown out at third via a fielder’s choice on a bouncer back to the circle from Grieve. With two down in the first, Grieve stole second and was joined on the base paths by Spigner via a hit by pitch. A looking strikeout ended the inning with no damage, but Tennessee did make Fowler work during the opening frame as the hurler tossed 26 pitches and allowed three base runners.
UA lead-off hitter Brittany Lastrapes wasted no time getting the Wildcat offense going in the bottom half of the first, driving a two-strike pitch into the gap in right center for a double. An 11-pitch battle between Renfroe and center fielder Lauren Schutzler resulted in a liner right to sophomore Ashley Andrews at short for the first out. From there UT’s 5-10 righthander handled a sharp bouncer back to the circle by shortstop K’Lee Arredondo and got catcher Stacie Chambers to fly out to deep left to waste the lead-off two-bagger.
The left stranded count grew to five through two frames for the Lady Vols as Tennessee loaded the bases during the top of the second on walks issued to Webb, Andrews and Chavanne. Unfortunately with two retired, Dotson flew out to mid-range left to end the inning with no damage on the scoreboard.
Thankfully, Renfroe was seriously dealing from the circle, striking out the Arizona side in the bottom of the second. The Jackson, Tenn., native got UA third baseman Bridgette Del Ponte and designated player Lini Koria swinging and then caught second baseman Kristen Arriola looking at a pitch down the middle to send the scoreless contest on to the third.
Tennessee finally broke out in front on the scoreboard in the top of the third on the benefit of four walks, numerous Fowler illegal pitches and a two-RBI double by Webb. After Grieve walked to open the frame and advanced to second on a Spigner sac bunt, an illegal pitch and free passes issued to Huff and Gibson loaded the bases with one down. Another illegal offering brought in Grieve with the game’s initial tally as UT nabbed a 1-0 lead. Webb stepped to the dish and drilled a double into the right center field gap, scoring two more, as the Lady Vols made it 3-0. A wild offering and another illegal pitch, the eighth called to that point in the contest, allowed Webb to eventually make her way to the plate from second as the lead expanded to four runs.
After four consecutive strikeouts by Renfroe, Arizona right fielder Karissa Buchanan managed an infield hit in the bottom of the third as her short pop dropped just in front of a charging Andrews at short. A sac bunt improved the runner to scoring position with two retired, but Renfroe K’ed Schutzler to keep the Wildcats off the board through three complete.
The UT speed game was off and running starting the top of the fourth as Dotson and Grieve managed back-to-back singles to the circle. Spigner bounced to short and the ball managed to get under Arredondo’s glove for an error and into left center as Dotson raced across to make it 5-0, Big Orange. Run-scoring singles from Gibson and Kajitani pushed the advantage to a staggering 7-0 heading into the bottom of the fourth.
In the top of the fifth, Chavanne was struck by a pitch leading off the frame and Dotson walked. That set the stage for a one-out double from Spigner to the wall in left center as Tennessee’s lead expanded to an incredible, 9-0.
From there it was up to Renfroe to see if she could finish off her complete-game shutout. She did just that by getting Arriola, first baseman Baillie Kirker and Buchanan in order to wrap up a stunning, opening-game blanking of Arizona.