CLEARWATER, Fla. — A three-run homer off the bat of sophomore shortstop Madison Shipman provided the necessary pop to back a two-hit, 10-strikeout, complete-game effort from sophomore pitcher Ellen Renfroe as No. 10 Tennessee (8-3) powered past Illinois State (7-5) in a 6-0 win at the NFCA Leadoff Classic.
Shipman’s blast marked her third of the season and came as part of a 1 for 3 effort with three RBI, giving her a team-leading 14 RBI on the year. Junior third baseman Raven Chavanne was 3 for 4 at the dish with an RBI, improving her weekend average to .667 (8 for 12), while junior second baseman Lauren Gibson was 1 for 4 with a run scored and her 13th RBI of 2012.
Sophomore center fielder Tory Lewis doubled as part of a 1 for 3 performance, junior designated player Kat Dotson was 1 for 3 with a run and sophomore left fielder Melissa Davin (0 for 1) was credited with an RBI via a second-inning, bases-loaded walk.
Renfroe improved to 7-0 overall, reaching the 10-strikeout mark for the fourth time in 2012 while allowing just two hits and a single walk during a complete-game shutout.
After a three-pitch strikeout christened the contest, Illinois State designated player Jhavon Hamilton became the game’s initial base runner by drawing a one-out walk in the top of the first. Renfroe fell behind center fielder Lizzie Andrews in the count 3-1 but battled back to record her second K of the frame. Third baseman Elizabeth Kay lifted a pop-up to short that Shipman squeezed routinely to conclude the opening inning.
A few grounds crew adjustments to the circle that resulted in a three-minute delay which seemed to agree with UT’s 6-0 hurler, as Renfroe struck out the Illinois State side in the top of the second. It gave her five K’s out of the first seven Redbird batters she faced.
Dotson got a scoring threat started by managing Tennessee’s initial hit of the contest with a one-out single in the bottom of the second and soon swiped second to reach scoring position. Junior right fielder Melissa Brown and freshman first baseman Cheyanne Tarango soon joined their teammate on the base paths via walks against ISU pitcher Megan Warner. With the bases loaded Davin stepped to the dish and managed the third consecutive free pass as Dotson crossed for a 1-0 lead.
After a Lady Vol K, Chavanne bounced a ball into a hole in the infield for a single as Brown raced home from 60 feet away for a 2-0 advantage.
Renfroe continued her roll through the top of the third, despite a one-out single from second baseman Kara Repp, finishing off the frame with her sixth strikeout of the match-up.
The Redbirds got the lead-off batter on for the first time in the contest during the top of the fourth as Lizzie Andrews laced a single into right field. A one-out sacrifice bunt advanced the runner up 60 feet into scoring position with catcher Caiti Kopp coming to the plate. The ISU hitter got ahead 3-0 before Renfroe fought back to a full count at 3-2. She then induced a routine bouncer to third to leave the base occupant stranded.
The Lady Vol speed game got the offense going in a major way during the bottom of the fifth as Lewis led off the frame with a double into the gap. Chavanne followed with a perfect bunt single and quickly swiped second, placing a pair of Tennessee base runners in scoring position with still no one retired. Following a groundout, Gibson ripped a shot that eluded the dive of Repp at second for an RBI single as the UT lead grew to 3-0. Shipman followed with a towering three-run shot, her third of the campaign, boosting the advantage to a much more comfortable 6-0.
From there it was to Ellen Renfroe to finish the contest off, and she did just that, completing a streak of 12 consecutive Redbird batters retired by registering one-two-three innings from the fifth through the seventh innings.