KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Game 1 of the Tennessee-Texas A&M series was a slugfest as the teams combined for six home runs. Raven Chavanne hit a three-run jack in the bottom of the sixth and Madison Shipman had three hits and a two-run bomb in the first to lift the No. 8 Lady Vols to a thrilling 8-6 win against the No. 5 Aggies on Friday at Lee Stadium.
Tennessee (25-6, 4-3 SEC) scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth off Chavanne’s bat to become just the second team this season to put eight runs on the scoreboard against power-swinging Texas A&M (26-3, 4-2 SEC).
March Madness made its way to Lee Stadium late in the game as Texas A&M pulled ahead 5-4 in the top of the fifth with three consecutive home runs. UT evened the game with one run in the bottom of the fifth on an RBI fielder’s choice, but the Aggies responded with a run on a throwing error in the top of the sixth to re-take the lead. Chavanne’s moon shot with two on in the bottom of the sixth ignited the home crowd and capped one of this season’s most exciting two-inning stretches of UT softball.
Chavanne went 2-for-3 with the homer, three RBIs, two runs and one walk. Shipman was 3-for-4 with a two-run homer. Kat Dotson was 2-for-3 with a two-RBI single and one walk. Melissa Davin was 2-for-3 with a double and Lauren Gibson was 1-for-2 with two runs scored and a stolen base.
Ivy Renfroe (10-3) earned the win after tossing two strong relief frames with four strikeouts and one unearned run allowed. Ellen Renfroe started the game and tallied two strikeouts and four earned runs allowed in 4.1 innings. Cheyanne Tarango gave up one run in two-thirds of an inning in relief.
Texas A&M ace Mel Dumezich (18-2) took the loss after allowing eight earned runs in five innings. Lauren Ainsley tossed one scoreless inning of relief.
The Aggies got off to a hot start in the first inning when Meagan May hit a one out homer to center field to give A&M a 1-0 lead.
Tennessee responded in the bottom of the first to take a 2-1 lead. With one out, Gibson was hit by a pitch and Shipman followed with a monster two-run homer over the wall in left on a 1-0 pitch.
Davin led off the bottom of the third with a single up the middle and Chavanne hit a slapper to first base for an infield single. Three batters later, with Davin on third and Gibson on second, Cheyanne Tarango was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Dotson followed with hard-hit two-RBI single up the middle to build UT’s lead to 4-1.
In the top of the fifth, the Texas A&M offense woke up in a big way. Emily Albus hit a one-out double to left field and May drove her in with a two-run homer to left field. Nicole Morgan hit a solo blast over the scoreboard to even the game at 4-4. After a pitching change with Tarango entering the circle, Dumezich sent a 1-0 pitch over the wall in center field to give the Aggies a 5-4 lead.
The Lady Vols tied the game at 5-5 in the bottom of the fifth. With one out and runners on the corners, Tarango reached on a fielder’s choice with Chavanne beating out the throw at home.
Texas A&M pulled back in front 6-5 in the top of the sixth. Ivy Renfroe started the inning in relief. With runners on first and second and two outs, Clopton scored from second base after an errant throw at second base on a fielder’s choice.
Rainey Gaffin drew a pinch-hit walk to open the sixth and Davin followed with double to left. Chavanne stepped in the box, took two strikes looking and then sent a towering shot over the wall in center field before an erupting Lady Vol fanbase.