Lady Vols win first game of SEC series
Renfroe strikes out seven in complete-game effort to top Georgia
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- On a hot Saturday afternoon in front of 1,822 Orange-clad fans at the sold out Lee Softball Stadium, seventh-seeded Tennessee climbed closer to a berth in the Women's College World Series by taking the opener of the Knoxville Super Regional from No. 10 seed Georgia 3-2.
Senior designated player Shelby Burchell continued her hot hitting, going 2 for 2 with a walk and a two-RBI single during the bottom of the third. She is hitting .556 (10 for 18) with five doubles and six RBI during UT's six NCAA tournament games.
Junior third baseman Raven Chavanne went 1 for 2 with a RBI, improving her streak of reaching base safely to 41 consecutive games and moving her hitting streak to 14 consecutive contests.
In the circle, junior Ivy Renfroe (24-8) continued her roll, picking up the 19th win in her last 21 decisions since March 21. She allowed two runs on six hits, walked one and struck out seven while tossing her 10th complete game of the season.
"Crazy game," Lady Vol co-head coach Ralph Weekly said. "That's what you expect from super regionals. I'm proud of our girls, and proud of how they fought. I'm especially proud of Ivy [Renfroe] and how she toughed it out. The Bulldogs gave us everything they had. Erin Arevalo is a very good pitcher, and she is a challenge, just like Ivy Renfroe is a very good pitcher. It's amazing that our two teams have to compete with so much at stake. Georgia has so many great players, and everyone is fighting. I expect the same [Sunday]."
Renfroe wasted no time exerting her influence from the circle in the top of the first, getting first baseman Tess Sito via a routine groundout to second before posting consecutive strikeouts of second baseman Ashley Pauly and shortstop Paige Wilson.
Arevalo held up her end of the early pitchers' duel in the bottom half of the first, getting a pair of Lady Vol Ks and a pop-up for a 1-2-3 inning.
Lewis managed to get a vital Orange & White scoring outburst started in the bottom of the third by opening the frame with a free pass. Following a sac bunt, Shipman picked up the contest's initial hit on a swinging bunt back to the circle and then swiped her 20th base of the season, reaching scoring position with two down. That set the stage for a clutch bloop single by Burchell that dropped just on the grass, plating a pair of Lady Vols for a 2-0 advantage.
The Bulldogs (44-16) loaded the bases with one out via singles from Sito and shortstop Paige Wilson and a hit by pitch for catcher Kristyn Sandberg. Renfroe rose to the challenge, posting consecutive strikeouts of designated player Ashley Razey and right fielder Christine Olney as UGA left the bases packed.
A lead-off single by Brown was eventually cashed in for what proved to be a vital insurance tally by the Lady Vols. With two down in the bottom of the fourth, Chavanne ripped a single into the outfield, plating freshman pinch runner Hannah Trainer from second for a 3-0 lead.
Georgia loaded the bases again in the top of the fifth via a double by Griffin, a walk from third baseman Gracie Goulder and a one-out hit-by-pitch for Sito. Renfroe again escaped the jam, registering her sixth strikeout of the contest and inducing a routine bouncer to first.
A single to begin the top of the sixth by Sandberg and a double that eluded a leaping Whitney Hammond at the wall in left gave the Dawgs another scoring threat. This time the Red & Black cashed in as an RBI single by Olney and RBI groundout by Griffin quickly cut the Big Orange lead to 3-2. Attempting to get the potential tying run in scoring position, Goulder was cut down via a caught stealing as Andrews fired a strike to Shipman covering the second base bag to end the outburst.
UGA had one final offensive chance in the top of the seventh but Renfroe struck out Brittney Hubbard and got both Sito and Pauly to ground out to end the game.