KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (UT release) -- Perfection was achieved on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in front of 1,762 fans at the Lee Softball Stadium as junior pitcher Ivy Renfroe fired her first-career perfect game and fifth no-hitter as the #6 Tennessee Lady Vol softball team (43-9, 21-6 Southeastern Conference) won its 16th-straight game by rolling past Ole Miss, 9-0 (5 inn.).
Certainly not to be overshadowed was the offensive effort of sophomore left fielder Melissa Davin. The Fresno, Calif., native blasted two HR’s in a single game for the third time in 2012 as part of a perfect 2-for-2, five-RBI performance, keeping her series average against Ole Miss at a flawless 1.000 (3-for-3, three walks, 2 HR’s, five RBIs).
Junior second baseman Lauren Gibson knocked in her 40th and 41st runs of the season while going 1-for-2 with a run scored, sophomore shortstop Madison Shipman delivered her SEC-leading 57th RBI via a sacrifice fly, and junior right fielder Kat Dotson went 2-for-2 at the dish with two runs scored. Junior third baseman Raven Chavanne was also 2-for-2 with a pair of tallies, improving her league-leading batting average to .428 as the Thousand Oaks, Calif., native also reached successfully for the 32nd-consecutive contest.
Renfroe faced the minimum of 15 Rebel hitters, striking out six while securing her 12th-straight decision victory and improving her overall record to an impressive 17-6.
“Today was a good effort by everybody, although it was a little slow getting started,” Lady Vol Co-Head Coach Ralph Weekly said. “We went three innings before we got it started, but I’m really pleased with what happened in the fourth and fifth innings and definitely happy with Ivy’s (Renfroe) pitching performance. Melissa (Davin) has worked so hard these last few weeks, and is really looking good on every pitch right now. She’s an amazing athlete who is strong, can run, can throw people out at the plate and hit the ball out of the ballpark.”
Renfroe was dealing early on from the circle, opening the contest with consecutive strikeouts of Ole Miss second baseman Corrine Doornberg and left fielder Brittany Broome. Shortstop Allison Brown ripped a shot to third that Chavanne dove to her left to catch right off the ground to end a one-two-three inning.
The Lady Vol speed game tried to get the UT offense going right off the bat in the bottom of the first as Chavanne laced a single to the outfield to christen the frame. Unfortunately in a rare occurrence, the Thousand Oaks, Calif., native was caught stealing second on a strong throw from Ole Miss catcher Marina Parra for the initial out. Dotson followed with an infield hit, and then Shipman hit into a fielder’s choice. Tennessee’s 6-1 shortstop swiped her 17th bag of the season to reach scoring position with two down, but a routine grounder to second ended the frame with no scoring.
The Big Orange threatened again in the bottom of the second as walks by Davin and senior catcher Ashley Andrews placed a pair on with two retired. Sophomore center fielder Tory Lewis lifted a blooper into the outfield that looked as if it might drop in, but UM’s Brittany Broome made a great sliding catch to leave two Lady Vols stranded.
Thwarted in the opening frame, the Big Orange speed game successfully got a scoring outburst started in the bottom of the third. Chavanne and Dotson each recorded singles and stolen bases to place the duo at second and third with none out. That set the stage for consecutive sacrifice flies off the bats of Shipman and Gibson as Tennessee nabbed a 2-0 advantage. Following a long double off the wall by senior designated player Shelby Burchell, Davin crushed an Erinn Jayjohn pitch over the wall for her sixth HR of the season, pushing the advantage to four tallies.
With Renfroe having retired each of the first 12 batters she had faced through the opening four frames, the Big Orange offense exploded in the bottom of the fourth in support by putting up five runs to take a commanding 9-0 lead. The assault all began with one down as Chavanne walked and Dotson was hit by an offering from reliever Kelly Chandler. After a Shipman line out, Gibson laced a two-out single through the infield to record her 41st RBI of the season. Chandler uncorked a wild pitch allowing Dotson to cross with UT’s sixth tally. With two on Davin stepped into the batter’s box and delivered once again, launching a three-run shot, her seventh of the year, as the advantage expanded to 9-0.
From there all that was left was to see if Renfroe could finish off her first career perfect game. The 6-0 right hander started the top of the fifth off with a strikeout of first baseman Londen Ladner. Third baseman Cali Overbeck came so very close to breaking up perfection with a sharp grounder into the hole between third and short. Chavanne dove quickly to her left to corral the ball before it could escape through the infield and fired a strike from her knees to junior first baseman Melissa Brown at first for a “web gem” second out. That proved Ole Miss’ last gasp as Lauren Lindsey went down swinging, becoming Renfroe’s sixth and final strikeout victim and finishing off the perfect game.
Tennessee and Ole Miss wrap up their series at the Lee Softball Stadium on Sun., April 29, at 1 p.m. ET in a game slated for live television broadcast via FOX Sports South and ESPN3.
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