TEMPE, Ariz. (release) -- On Saturday night in Kajikawa Classic action at the Farrington Stadium in Tempe, Ariz., junior shortstop Madison Shipman doubled in two runs, junior second baseman Lauren Gibson blasted a solo home run and sophomore pitcher Ellen Renfroe scattered seven hits in her fourth consecutive shutout as the #9 Tennessee softball team (4-1) knocked off #1 and defending national champion Arizona State (4-2), 3-0.
This marks the second straight season that the Big Orange have downed a #1 squad after topping top-ranked Alabama, 4-1, back on March 22, 2011, in Knoxville, and the program’s fourth victory over a #1 or #2-ranked team in the last two seasons.
Renfroe (4-0) still hasn’t allowed a run over four appearances, posting a perfect 0.00 ERA over 24 innings of work with 36 strikeouts. Against the Sun Devils, the Jackson, Tenn., native walked only one and struck out six in the complete-game effort.
“Our team played great tonight against a very strong Arizona State team with All-American Dallas Escobedo in the circle,” Lady Vol Co-Head Coach Ralph Weekly said. “I was especially pleased with the players who stepped into roles normally covered by Raven Chavanne and Kat Dotson. Tory Lewis gave us a big boost right from the start, and Ashley Andrews was fantastic. I also want to say that this was a great atmosphere tonight in front of over 1,300 fans. Our team responded to what adversity the crowd provided, especially the defense, which turned a 6-4-3 double play and provided two incredible catches in the outfield. I told the team before the game that a wounded animal is often the most dangerous animal, and we’ve been wounded. I also want to say how much I appreciated the brief ceremony ASU held prior to the game, honoring me for the Hall of Fame.”
Back-to-back walks to open the contest by sophomore Tory Lewis and senior third baseman Ashley Andrews got the Lady Vols off to a great start against ASU All-American pitcher Dallas Escobedo in the top of the first. In fact, Andrews’ at-bat was incredible as the Tumwater, Wash., native battled over 14 pitches, fouling off nine offerings, before drawing the free pass. Following a perfect sacrifice bunt by junior second baseman Lauren Gibson, Shipman blasted a double into the gap for a pair of RBI’s as Tennessee nabbed a quick 2-0 advantage.
The Sun Devil offense attempted to get right back on level terms in the bottom half of the first as shortstop Katelyn Boyd and first baseman Christina Zambrana opened the frame with back-to-back singles. Renfroe bared down, however, getting Annie Lockwood to fly out to center, striking out U.S. Junior National Team member Amber Freeman and getting centerfielder Elizabeth Caporuscio to ground to UT’s very own U.S. Junior National Team member Tarango.
Tennessee missed a big two-out scoring opportunity in the top of the third as a walk by Tarango, a single that rolled to the wall off the bat of Burchell and Brown getting hit by a pitch loaded the bases full of Lady Vols. Unfortunately, a strikeout left the bags packed and kept ASU trailing by just a 2-0 count.
With one down in the bottom of the third, Boyd drove a ball to deep center that just eluded a leaping Tory Lewis at the wall. The ASU shortstop rolled easily into third on the play for a stand-up triple. Amazingly, and a credit to Renfroe, she never moved an inch as Zambrana struck out swinging and right fielder Annie Lockwood flew out to mid right to end the threat.
UT again had a prime scoring chance in the top of the fourth go awry after consecutive one-out singles by Lewis and Andrews as a foul out and fly ball to right left led the duo stranded at first and second.
Freeman, the initial Sun Devil batter of the bottom of the fourth, crushed a pitch to deep left that looked as if it might leave Farrington Stadium. Newly entered defensive sub Holly Baker tracked the towering fly back to the fence, jumped up and caught the ball at the very top of the wall to record her own personal “web gem.” Just three batters later with Sam Parlich stationed at first after a walk, Burchell contributed her own “web gem” grab with a basket catch on the run in short right center to end the frame.
ASU designated player Bailey Wigness christened the bottom of the fifth with a perfect slap single out in front of the plate. Left fielder Taylor Haro lifted a short pop behind second that was tracked down on a back-handed catch by junior second baseman Lauren Gibson for the initial out of the frame. From there Boyd hit into a fielder’s choice to third as Andrews tossed to Gibson covering second to retire the lead runner, and then Zambrana chopped back to the circle for the third out.
A base knock up the middle by Lockwood in the bottom of the sixth marked the second consecutive frame that the Sun Devils had gotten the lead-off batter on base. Freeman got ahead of Renfroe in the count 3-1 before bouncing a ball to short. Shipman handled the sphere, tossed to Gibson at second and she fired on to Tarango at first for a huge 6-4-3 double play. That de-railed the ASU threat as Caporuscio grounded harmlessly to second, retiring the side.
After helping on the decisive defensive play of the sixth frame, Gibson blasted a pitch out of Farrington Stadium with one out in the top of the seventh improving Tennessee’s advantage to 3-0.
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