KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – On Tuesday night in front of a Lee Softball Stadium record crowd of 1,650, No. 11 Tennessee (24-5, 2-3 Southeastern Conference) rebounded from a 9-5 doubleheader-opening loss to upset No. 1 Alabama (30-2, 6-1 SEC) in the nightcap, 4-1, and earn a split.
The win marks the first for the Lady Vols against the nation’s top-ranked squad since sweeping a doubleheader from No. 1 Alabama at Tyson Park on May 6, 2007 to earn the program’s only SEC regular season crown.Alabama’s only previous loss this season had been to No. 17 Louisiana-Lafayette 1-0 on March 4.
“Alabama is a true No. 1 team,” Lady Vol co-head coach Ralph Weekly said. “In my opinion, they are the best Alabama squad we’ve played in my 10 years here at Tennessee. Karen (co-head coach Weekly) and I are so proud of our team for bringing the fight to them in game two. These are the types of games that make teams stronger down the road in postseason play.”
In firing her second consecutive complete game (the first was against Iowa on March 18), Big Orange freshman pitcher Ellen Renfroe out-dueled previously unbeaten Crimson Tide freshman Jackie Traina to improve to 14-2 on the season. Renfroe, a Jackson, Tenn. native, allowed two hits and one unearned run while striking out seven and throwing 144 pitches in seven inning. In the process, Renfroe lowered her team-best ERA to 1.39. Opponents are now hitting .167 against her.
Lady Vol freshman shortstop Madison Shipman got the UT offense started with a two-out RBI single in the fourth. Sophomore second baseman Lauren Gibson and junior designated hitter Jessica Spigner each contributed RBIs during a two-run seventh. Sophomore right fielder Kat Dotson was 2-for-3, scored two runs and hit a team-best .600.
In the opener, Senior Kelsi Dunne improved to 14-1 on the season with the win in the circle while at the junior Cassie Reilly-Boccia collected two hits and drove in two runs. Junior Jennifer Fenton also had two hits and drove in three runs.
Dunne allowed five runs on seven hits and struck out eight while walking four. The win gives the right-hander 98 for her career, which moves her into sole possession of second all-time in the Alabama record books.
After a slow start for the Tide, scoring a single run in the third and fifth innings, Alabama erupted for three runs in the sixth and four more in the seventh to secure its 13th consecutive victory.
The Tide got on the board in the third inning when Reilly-Boccia singled to left to bring home junior Kendall Dawson. Alabama increased its lead to 2-0 in the fifth when Reilly-Boccia struck again with a lined shot off the wall in center to plate sophomore Kayla Braud.
Bama broke the game open in the sixth, adding three more runs. Fenton supplied the big hit when she singled up the middle to score freshman Kaila Hunt and sophomore Keima Davis.
Four more runs in the seventh capped off the scoring for Alabama. Sophomore Courtney Conley and Dawson were both hit by pitches with the bases loaded. An RBI single to left by Fenton and a RBI groundout by Braud capped off the game for the Tide.