KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (release) -- A key two-out, two-run single by Cheyanne Tarango and strong efforts in the circle from both Renfroe sisters led Tennessee to a 3-2 win over defending national champion Alabama in the opening game of the NCAA Super Regional in front of a capacity crowd of 1,650 at Lee Stadium on Friday.
Ellen Renfroe allowed just two runs on three hits while striking out six in 3.2 innings before handing the ball over to her older sister. Ivy Renfroe then proceeded to spin 3.1 frames of shutout relief to earn the win and improve to 20-4 on the year. The two Lady Vols combined to strand nine Alabama runners on base in the contest.
Jackie Traina (19-7) suffered the loss for the Crimson Tide (45-14) as the Big Orange (48-10) scored three runs - one earned - off of her on four hits over 6.0 innings of work.
Alabama struck the opening blow, getting an RBI single in the top of the second, but Hannah Akamine answered right back with a solo shot to left-center, her third home run of the season, in the home half of the frame to tie the game up at 1-1.
The Crimson Tide looked as if it would regain the lead in the third, using a throwing error, a walk and a bloop single to load the bases with just one out but Ellen Renfroe was able to buckle down, striking out the next two batters swinging to escape unscathed.
A similar situation ensued in Tennessee's turn at bat, with a pair of four-pitch walks and an Alabama error loading the bases with only one out once again. Traina was able to put another out on the board with a strikeout but Tarango followed by ripping a 3-1 pitch to the gap in right-center for a two-run single that give her team a 3-1 lead.
The back-and-forth battle continued into the fourth as the Tide put two on with two outs, prompting UT to bring Ivy Renfroe in from the bullpen. She was greeted rudely though with Haylie McCleney scorching an RBI double off the wall in right that cut the Lady Vol lead to just one. A tremendous diving play by Raven Chavanne at third ending the inning, however, leaving two Alabama runners stranded in scoring position.
From there it was all Ivy Renfroe as she retired nine of the final 11 batters of the game to give Tennessee its third win over Alabama in four attempts this season.
The Lady Vols will play for a chance to advance to the Women's College World Series at 5 p.m. on Saturday. Tickets are sold out but the game will be televised on ESPN with Beth Mowins and Jessica Mendoza on the call. If necessary, Game 3 will be played at 8 p.m. on ESPN2.