KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – On Tuesday night in front of 794 fans at the Lee Softball Stadium, junior pitcher Ellen Renfroe hurled her first collegiate no-hitter and the #9 Tennessee Lady Vol softball squad (25-7) banged out 10 hits, completing a doubleheader sweep of Furman, 8-0 (6 inn.).
Renfroe followed up her sister Ivy’s one-hit effort in the DH opener by firing the no-no, walking four and striking out eight while registering her NCAA Division I-leading 13th shutout of 2012. The Jackson, Tenn., native has allowed just two total runs over her last 47.2 innings of work in the circle dating back to the third frame of a match-up against #3/4 Florida on March 11.
Junior left fielder Melissa Brown led the Big Orange charge at the plate, going 2-for-4 with a double, two runs scored and a pair of RBIs. The Valencia, Calif., product has been on fire as of late, hitting an impressive .357 over her last 13 contests with three HRs and 11 RBIs. Senior first baseman Cat Hosfield was 2-for-3 with a double and a RBI, while junior center fielder Kat Dotson was 2-for-3 with a pair of runs scored and two steals. Junior second baseman Lauren Gibson knocked in a run via a double as part of 1-for-3, two-tally effort and freshman designated player Cheyanne Tarango was credited with a RBI on a sacrifice fly.
“I thought Furman played really well tonight,” Lady Vol Co-Head Coach Ralph Weekly said. “I know our kids were tired. We were on the road for nine days last week, so I guess we came out tonight and didn’t really answer the bell. We managed to play well enough to win, and I guess that’s what matters at this time of year. We challenged the team a little bit between games, and in the second game we picked up 10 hits.”
With Tennessee leaving sophomore shortstop Madison Shipman stranded in the bottom of the first following a two-out infield single, Furman posted the first big offensive threat in the top of the second. Third baseman Natalie Clemmons and second baseman Emily Boyer recorded consecutive walks against Renfroe, but the 6-0 right hander responded with her third strikeout of the contest, getting catcher Hannah Pace swinging.
A lead-off walk by Furman left fielder Ambree Muller in the top of the third was quickly wiped off via a runner left early call. Back-to-back strikeouts of right fielder Sarah Eidt and center fielder Nikki Legg marked the fourth and fifth K’s of the contest for Renfroe.
Dotson got the Lady Vol offense untracked in the bottom of the third via a one-out base knock through the infield. With two down in the frame and the Lady Vol runner in scoring position after a stolen base, Gibson blasted a two-bagger into the gap, plating Dotson for a 1-0 advantage. Brown followed immediately after with a RBI single off the Lee Stadium wall, improving the UT lead to a pair of tallies.
The lead expanded to 3-0 in the bottom of the fourth as Hosfield started the frame with a double into the gap. A passed ball on Furman catcher Hannah Pace moved the runner within 60 feet of pay dirt where she was cashed in via a sacrifice fly off the bat of Tarango. The Big Orange threatened to extend the lead with two outs after junior third baseman Raven Chavanne singled up the middle and swiped second. After a five-pitch walk that put Dotson on first, Shipman grounded to third baseman Natalie Clemmons, who stepped on the bag for the force.
The Paladins christened the fifth with a walk, Furman’s fourth of the game, but Clemmons would get no farther. Pinch hitter Alexis Galinski sent a grounder to Chavanne, who threw it to second for the force. Renfroe would account for the final two outs of the frame, striking out Hope Smith and catching a comebacker off the bat of pinch hitter Alex Bimonte.
UT saw two more runs come across home plate in the bottom of the fifth, pushing the advantage out to five. Gibson walked to begin the inning and recorded her eighth steal of the season to advance to second. The Pasadena, Md., native scored after Brown hit a laser into the outfield for a double. Following a fly out from Burchell, Hosfield singled through the infield to plate Brown. Junior Whitney Hammond beat out a grounder on the infield to reach first and give the Lady Vols two on with just one out. A grounder to third cleared Hosfield off the base paths with the inning concluding on a fly out to left fielder Ambree Muller.
Two grounders to Shipman and Renfroe’s eighth strikeout of the game quickly closed the door on any chance of a Furman rally, bringing Tennessee up for what would be its last at-bats of the contest.
Dotson’s second hit to begin the bottom of the sixth inning and a stolen base quickly granted UT a RBI opportunity. A four-pitch walk to Shipman and a groundout by Gibson to short placed Lady Vols on second and third. The Paladins allowed Brown to reach base after Clemmons throw from third sailed over the head of first baseman Jessie Homesley. Both Dotson and Shipman scored on the miscue, while Brown advanced to second, bringing Tennessee within a run of ending the game early. Furman recorded the second out as a result of a groundout to short. Hosfield reached base for the third time after a two-out walk, as she and Brown moved up a base following a wild pitch from Lakyn Shull. Hammond walked to pack the bases, leaving it up to senior catcher Ashley Andrews. The final run wouldn’t come off a hit or a walk, but instead a passed ball, as catcher Hope Smith allowed a Shull pitch to sneak by and Brown to score.
Behind the strong pitching of Ellen's sister Ivy, the Lady Vols won Tuesday's opener at Lee Stadium, 1-0. Tennessee resumes conference play this weekend with a three game series against Kentucky. Friday’s contest begins at 6 p.m. ET.