TAMPA, Fla. (release) – On Saturday, No. 4/4 Tennessee earned a big 11-0 win over a very tough No. 12/12 USF team and finished the day with a 10-3 win over Coastal Carolina in the USF 4 Team Tournament at USF Softball Stadium.
The Lady Vols improved to 9-0 for the first time since 2007 when the team started 23-0. UT's 9-0 mark is the fourth-best start in program history, behind the Lady Vols 24-0 start in 2006, the 23-0 start in 2007 and the 16-0 start to 2005.
“At times we looked very good today, and at other times we didn’t,” co-head coach Karen Weekly said. “We made a lot of mistakes but we found a way to get it done. We need to stay hungry and continue to learn from every game.”
GAME 1: No. 4/4 Tennessee 11, No. 12/12 USF 0
TAMPA, Fla. -- Kat Dotson had a pair of RBI triples and the No. 4/4 Tennessee softball team poured on six runs in the sixth to back a strong outing in the circle by Ellen Renfroe to defeat No. 12/12 USF, 11-0, on Saturday in the USF 4 Team Tournament.
The Lady Vols (8-0) and the Bulls (5-2) were locked up in a scoreless pitcher's duel through the first five frames before the UT offense came to life late in the game. All nine of Tennessee's hits in the game came in the sixth and seventh innings.
Dotson led the way for UT, going 2-for-4 at the plate with three RBIs and two runs scored. Hannah Akamine, Melissa Brown and Haley Tobler had two RBIs apiece.
Ellen Renfroe (3-0) earned her second complete-game shutout of the season. She fanned seven batters over seven innings.
USF ace Sarah Nevins (2-1) was in control in the circle through the first five innings before the Lady Vols exploded to a 6-0 lead in the sixth. Nevins finished the game with five strikeouts and six runs allowed over 5.2 frames. Sam Greiner allowed five runs over 1.1 relief frames.
Melissa Davin led off the sixth inning with a well-placed single just out of reach of the second baseman. After Tory Lewis advanced her to second on a sacrifice bunt, Whitney Hammond entered to run for Davin. Two batters later, with two outs, Dotson slammed a triple off the top of the wall in right field to plate Hammond and give UT a 1-0 lead. Madison Shipman reached base on a dropped flyball in the ensuing at-bat to score Dotson. After Lauren Gibson drew a walk on seven pitches, Cheyanne Tarango was drilled in the back, loading the bases. Akamine connected for a two-RBI single up the middle to push Tennessee's lead to 4-0. Greiner entered to pitch for Nevins and Brown knocked a triple to left center on a 0-2 pitch to drive in two more runs.
In the top of the seventh, UT scored five more runs. With two on and no outs, Dotson banged a two-RBI triple off the bottom of the wall in right field to give Tennessee an 8-0 advantage. Two batters later, Gibson ripped an RBI single through the left side. Tarango walked and Anna Renfroe drew a seven-pitch walk to load the bases for the Lady Vols once again. Tobler capitalized with a pinch-hit single up the middle to plate two more runs and round out the score at 11-0.
UT continues play in the USF 4 Team Tournament on Sunday, facing the winner of tonight's semifinal between No. 12/12 USF and NC State. The game time will be either at 10:30 a.m. or 12:45 p.m. depending on the travel plans for the teams.
The Lady Vols are just 10 days away from opening their 2013 home schedule at Lee Stadium against Lipscomb on Feb. 26. The home opener will feature free reserved bleacher backs for kids 12 and under based on availability. Single-game tickets go on sale on Monday at 8 a.m. and can be purchased through UTTix.com or through the ticket office at 865-656-1200.
GAME 2: No. 4/4 Tennessee 10, Coastal Carolina 3
TAMPA, Fla. -- Lauren Gibson and Cheyanne Tarango hit home runs to lead the No. 4/4 Tennessee softball team to a 10-3 win over Coastal Carolina on Saturday in the USF 4 Team Tournament.
Gibson and Tarango hit back-to-back homers in the third inning to give UT a 3-1 lead in the third and some momentum against a Coastal Carolina (2-7) team that played hard from start to finish.
Ivy Renfroe tossed 2.2 innings of relief, allowing two runs and striking out five. She also recorded the first hit in the first at-bat of her career, a single on a full count down the left field line in the second inning.
Chanticleers starter Ashley Bagwell (1-2) took the loss after allowing four runs (three earned) over 3.1 frames. Morgan Mastriania allowed six runs over the final 2.2 frames.
Tarango went 2-for-3 at the plate with a homer and four RBIs and tossed 4.1 frames, allowing just one earned run to improve to 2-0. Gibson went 2-for-2 with a solo homer to right, two RBIs, one run and one walk. Kat Dotson scored three runs and had a pair of walks.
Coastal Carolina struck first, taking a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. With one out and runners on the corners, Jazmin Daigle singled through the left side off a 1-1 pitch from Tarango to drive in one run.
Tennessee knotted the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the fame at first. With two outs and the bases loaded, Tarango hit a sacrifice fly to left field and Dotson scored sliding into home plate.
Ivy Renfroe relieved Tarango in the circle at the start of the second.
Gibson led off the bottom of the third with a rocketed shot over the high end of the wall in right field on a 2-0 pitch from Bagwell. Tarango followed with homer over the wall in left center, giving Tennessee a 3-1 lead.
In the top of the fourth, Coastal Carolina evened the game at 3-3. Sara Rasley hit a one-out single through the left side to plate Brooke Donovan. Two batters later, Kiana Quolas knocked an RBI single up the middle on a 2-2 pitch to up the middle for an RBI single to tie the game.
The Lady Vols added two more runs in the bottom of the fourth. With two outs and runners on second and third, Gibson ripped a single up the middle to plate Kat Dotson. Madison Shipman scored from third base in the next at-bat when Lauren Gibson stole second base.
Ahead 5-3, UT sealed the win with a five-run fifth. Whitney Hammond drew a bases-loaded walk with no outs to drive in pinch runner Hannah Trainer. With two outs, Hammond and Tory Lewis scored on a fielding error at second base. Tarango, who had re-entered the circle in the fourth inning, singled through the left side for a two-RBI hit to round out UT's scoring.