KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (release) -- On Tuesday afternoon in the opening game of a doubleheader at Lee Softball Stadium, a trio of home runs from junior first baseman Melissa Brown, sophomore pinch hitter Melissa Davin and junior second baseman Lauren Gibson powered the #9 Tennessee Lady Vol softball team (16-5) past Georgia Southern (13-8), 7-0.
Brown led UT’s eight-hit offensive attack by going 2-for-3 at the dish with two RBIs and her third HR of the season. Gibson was 1-for-3 with a pair of RBIs, while bashing her team-leading seventh HR, and Davin was 1-for-1 as a pinch hitter with her third big fly of the campaign via a two-run shot during UT’s four-tally sixth. Freshman designated player Cheyanne Tarango doubled while posting a 1-for-2 effort with a run scored, junior third baseman Raven Chavanne was 1-for-2 with a RBI sacrifice fly, sophomore center fielder Tory Lewis was 1-for-1 with a tally and rookie pinch hitter Hannah Akamine went 1-for-1 in her lone plate appearance.
Sophomore pitcher Ellen Renfroe improved to 12-1 overall by registering her 11th complete-game and ninth solo shutout of 2012. The 6-0 righty allowed just two hits and struck out 11 with no walks in a strong effort from the circle.
After a dominant, strikeout the side performance for Renfroe in the top of the first, Tennessee’s Chavanne got the offense off to a quick start with a single that ricocheted off the pitcher. Despite a steal of second by UT’s speedster and a groundball that advanced her within 60 feet of pay dirt, a two-out pop-up just out on the outfield grass over short was caught to leave Chavanne at third.
Georgia Southern catcher Mackenzie Williams became the Eagles’ initial base runner during the top of the second by leading off the frame with a clean single to center. On a sac bunt by third baseman Andrea Tarashuk, a throw attempting to nail the lead runner at second was tossed into center field for an error as GSU boasted a pair on the base paths with still none out. After a strikeout for the opening retirement, shortstop Kourtny Thomas ripped a liner to short. Shipman was perfectly placed to make a grab right at her shoe tops, turned and tossed behind the lead runner to Gibson at second for an inning-ending double play.
Tennessee finally broke the scoreless dead-lock in the bottom of the third via the long ball. Following a lead-off walk issued to Lewis and a fielder’s choice on a bunt by Chavanne, Gibson bashed her seventh HR of the season to grant the Big Orange a 2-0 lead.
Renfroe settled in from the circle following the interesting top of the second, retiring nine consecutive hitters over the third, fourth and fifth frames. During the latter inning the Jackson, Tenn., native managed to strikeout the side for the second time in the match-up.
A triple christening the bottom of the fifth off the bat of Lewis set the stage for a sacrifice fly from Chavanne as the Lady Vols improved their advantage to 3-0.
Tennessee boosted its cushion via the long ball once again in the bottom of the sixth. With Tarango stationed at second following a one-out two-bagger, Brown crushed an offering from Georgia Southern’s Sarah Jarvis out of Lee Stadium to make it 5-0. After a clean single through the infield from freshman pinch hitter Hannah Akamine, Davin joined the big fly parade with a towering two-run shot to finalize the Big Orange offensive output at seven tallies.
From there it was left to Renfroe to finish off her 11th complete game and ninth shutout. Second baseman Hanna Ennis granted the Eagles brief life with a lead-off double down the line in left, but UT’s 6-0 right-hander didn’t flinch. She retired center fielder Marie Fogle on a pop-up to short and then struck out Williams and Tarashuk to complete the triumph.