Ivy Renfroe. Courtesy: UT Sports
After finishing second in the regular season by just percentage points, Ralph Weekly said his team was fired up for the postseason to begin. The Lady Vols opened up the SEC tournament with a 5-0 win over South Carolina
Lauren Gibson had an RBI double that set the tone early, Kat Dotson hammered a solo home run and Ellen Renfroe fanned six over seven shutout frames as No. 2-seed Tennessee shut down No. 10-seed South Carolina, 5-0, in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals on Thursday.
Tennessee (44-9) enjoyed a three-run first inning and added runs in the third and the fifth to control the game from start to finish while Renfroe and the UT defense contained South Carolina (32-23) to extend the Lady Vols' streak to 25 straight wins against the Gamecocks.
Tennessee will now face Missouri (34-10) in the SEC Tournament semifinals on Friday at 3:30 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPNU and there will be a live audio feed on UTSports.com.
Gibson was 2-for-2 with an RBI double, one run, two walks and a stolen base. Dotson was 2-for-2 with a solo homer. Raven Chavanne went 2-for-4 with a pair of runs. Madison Shipman and Cheyanne Tarango each drove in one run.
Renfroe (16-4) was outstanding in the circle, tallying six strikeouts over seven shutout frames. She demonstrated great command, painting the corners of the strike zone beautifully.
Audrey Broyles (9-9) started the game and allowed four runs over the first two frames to earn the loss. Julie Sarratt allowed one run over the remaining four innings in relief.
Tennessee jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning thanks to some hot hitting at the top of the lineup. Chavanne hit a leadoff infield single to third to get things rolling. After Chavanne stole second, Gibson clubbed an RBI double off the wall in left. Gibson then stole third and advanced home on a throwing error by the catcher. Two batters later, Dotson drilled a 1-2 pitch to right field for her fifth home run of season.
In the bottom of the third, Chavanne and Gibson were at it again, hitting back-to back singles through the infield to start the inning. After Sarratt replaced Broyles in the circle, Shipman knocked an RBI single through the left side with Chavanne scoring and Gibson out at third.
UT added one more run in the bottom of the fifth. Dotson opened the inning with a hard-hit double off the wall in left center. Haley Tobler pinch ran for her and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Tarango stepped in and hit a sacrifice fly to left field to score Tobler.
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