Renfroe blanks No. 9 Gators 1-0
Sophomore yields three hits, Ks 15 in seven-inning gem
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- In front of a sold-out crowd of 1,613 Orange-clad fans on a chilly Friday night at the Lee Softball Stadium, the No. 9 Tennessee Lady Vols (15-3, 1-0 Southeastern Conference) rode a three-hit, season-high 15-strikeout effort from sophomore pitcher Ellen Renfroe in posting a 1-0 victory against third-ranked Florida (21-2, 2-1 SEC) during the opener of a three-game league series.
In topping the Gators on Friday night for UT's ninth consecutive victory, Renfroe (7.0 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 15 Ks) registered her fifth career win against a team ranked Nos. 1, 2 or 3 in the polls and her second such triumph of the 2012 campaign after already shutting out top-ranked and defending national champion Arizona State in Tempe, Ariz., on Feb. 11. Renfroe also reached the 10-strikeout plateau for the sixth time this season, topping her previous high of 14 in a 1-0 victory against Texas Tech on Feb. 10.
At the plate, senior left fielder Shelby Burchell (1-for-3, run) started the decisive rally by leading off the bottom of the seventh with a base knock. Occupying third with two down, a ball off the bat of UT freshman pinch-hitter Hannah Akamine bounced just over the glove of UF pitcher Hannah Rogers before being dropped on a throw from second baseman Katie Medina to first as Burchell raced home with the winning run.
"I thought both teams fought," Lady Vols co-head coach Ralph Weekly said. "What you saw [Friday night] was a great pitching achievement by both Ellen Renfroe and UF's Hannah Rogers, and they were fantastic. I thought Rogers was throwing really well, and I thought Ellen pitched really well. When you get in a game like that where the pitchers are red hot, they're going to shut down the offenses on both teams. I was just proud we came out on top. Florida is a great team that will make adjustments before [Saturday] and Sunday."
Renfroe opened the top of the opening frame by retiring third baseman Sami Fagan via strikeout and center fielder Michelle Moultrie on a bouncer that junior Melissa Brown handled routinely at first. That's when things took a quick Gator turn as designated player Lauren Haeger battled out of a 1-2 hole to reach by a walk. A fielding error on the Big Orange infield and a single to deep short from Cheyenne Coyle loaded the bases full of Gators with two down. Renfroe responded by inducing a routine ground ball to third from first baseman Ensley Gammel. Junior third baseman Raven Chavanne corralled the sphere and made the strong throw to first as Florida left three base runners stranded.