No. 1 Lady Vols pick up pair of wins in Georgia Southern tourney

STATESBORO, Ga. (release) -- No. 1 Tennessee saw its power bats come alive on Saturday in an 8-3 win over Northern Colorado followed by a 1-0 win over Georgia Southern in Day 2 of the Eagle Round Robin in Statesboro, Ga.

After early rain delays pushed back the start of Saturday’s games, Tennessee (3-0) used a late-inning surge thanks to home runs from Lexi Overstreet and Taylor Koenig to power past Northern Colorado. In the evening a home run by Melissa Davin and a 10-strikeout shutout from Ellen Renfroe was all the Lady Vols needed to defeat host Georgia Southern.

NO. 1 TENNESSEE 8, Northern Colorado 3
The Lady Vols defeated Northern Colorado, 8-3, in their second game in as many days at the Eagle Round Robin Tournament on Saturday behind the strong relief pitching of Rainey Gaffin and a big bat in Lexi Overstreet.

Tennessee (2-0) tallied two runs in the third, added one in the fourth, three in the fifth and two more in the sixth to beat Northern Colorado (0-2) for a second time. Overstreet led the Lady Vols with two hits and three RBI's including a two-run home run in the bottom of the fifth inning to pull Tennessee ahead for the final time. Taylor Koenig also hit her first career home run and went 2-for-4 at the plate with double.

Gaffin, a sophomore, led the team in pitching after leaving her normal center field duties. She finished the game with two and two-thirds innings pitched, allowing no runs and striking out seven Northern Colorado batters along the way. Starter Erin Gabriel threw four and one-third frames with four strikeouts and two earned runs allowed.

Northern Colorado got on the board first when Megan Wilkinson had solo home run in the top of the third inning off Gabriel.

The Lady Vols answered back immediately. Megan Geer walked to lead off the bottom half of the inning. After a stolen base and wild pitch, Gaffin walked to put runners on first and third. Two batters later, an error by the Bears shortstop on Melissa Davin's ground ball scored Geer and tied the game. The following batter for the Lady Vols, Overstreet, ripped a single through the middle scoring Gaffin and giving Tennessee the lead.

Tennessee added another run in the bottom of the fourth inning. Koenig reached base on a double down the right field line. Fellow freshmen Shaliyah Geathers - who was getting her first career start - doubled up the middle, scoring Koenig and extending the Lady Vols' lead to 3-1.

Nicole Hudson, the Bears' first batter of the fifth inning, walked on four pitches. After a sac bunt and a passed ball she was driven in from third by an RBI double from Wilkinson cutting the Tennessee lead to one run. Gaffin replaced Gabriel as the Tennessee pitcher before an error by Cheyanne Tarango allows another Northern Colorado run to cross the plate, tying the game at 3-3.

Overstreet responded in the bottom of the fifth inning for Tennessee after lifting a 2-1 pitch over the fence driving in Davin as well - the Lady Vols' first home run of the season. Two batters later, Koenig connected on a solo shot as well putting Tennessee up 6-3.

Tennessee added to its lead in the bottom of the sixth when Geer trotted into second base on a standup double. She made it home two wild pitches later giving UT a 7-3 lead. With two on and two outs, Tarango singled in Madison Shipman, adding another run to Tennessee's tally, 8-3.

NO. 1 TENNESSEE 1, Georgia Southern 0
Tennessee ace Ellen Renfroe came ready to play Saturday and carried the Lady Vols past Georgia Southern, 1-0, in their second game of the day at the Eagle Round Robin Tournament in Statesboro, Ga.

The Lady Vols scored one run in the second off of a solo homer by Melissa Davin and held the Eagles scoreless for the remainder of the game.

Renfroe pitched seven shutout innings of two-hit softball, striking out 10 and only walking one batter. The senior from Jackson, Tenn. followed her shutout performance Friday against Northern Colorado with an even more impressive one today.

Davin’s solo home run to lead off the second inning was the difference in the game that featured two impressive pitchers. Taylor Koenig, Cheyanne Tarango and Hannah Akamine also added hits for the Lady Vols.

After Davin's shot in the top of the second inning, Koenig and Tarango both reached base with singles but the Lady Vols failed to convert on the opportunity with two outs.

Akamine's hit came with no outs in the fifth inning but a strikeout by Gaffin and two fly-ball outs to the catcher by Annie Aldrete and Madison Shipman neutralized the threat.

Meanwhile, Renfroe consistently struck out the Eagle batters finishing the game with two strikeouts in the bottom of the seventh to ice the game.

The Lady Vols enter the season ranked No. 1 in both USA Today/NFCA Coaches Poll and the ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25 poll. In its three wins in Statesboro, Tennessee has outscored opponents 17-3.

Sunday's matchup against Oakland is at 10:30 a.m. and will be the second meeting for the teams. Tennessee won the previous game in 2007, 7-0.


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