On Saturday afternoon at the Lee Softball Stadium, a 10-hit offensive attack helped the #5 Tennessee Lady Vol softball team (47-11) eliminate the UAB Blazers (37-22) from the NCAA Knoxville Regional with a 8-0 (5 inn.) victory.
Senior designated player Shelby Burchell led the Big Orange offense by going a perfect 3-for-3 at the dish with two runs scored, a double and an RBI. Junior third baseman Raven Chavanne was 2-for-3 with two runs, two steals (including the 100th of her illustrious career) and a pair of RBIs, junior right fielder Kat Dotson was 1-for-4 with two RBIs, junior first baseman Melissa Brown was 1-for-2 with a couple of tallies and a RBI, senior catcher Ashley Andrews was 1-for-1 with a RBI and sophomore shortstop Madison Shipman was 1-for-3 with her 11th double of the season and her team-leading 59th RBI.
In the circle junior Ivy Renfroe picked up her 20th win of the campaign, striking out three over 3.1 perfect frames of effort.
Following a quiet first inning as each team was retired in order, Tennessee's offense awakened with two down as Brown kicked off a scoring rally by drawing a walk off UAB pitcher Amber Torres. Burchell ripped the first pitch she received right back through Torres' legs and up the middle, advancing the lead runner into scoring position. Batting from the right side of the plate, Andrews followed with a shot into the gap as Brown raced home easily from second to make it 1-0.
Seeking an immediate response to UT's score, catcher Mandy Lowman christened the bottom half of the second with a bloop single that dropped into shallow right center. After a walk was issued to designated player Kristen McGrath, second baseman Lauren Webster hit into a fielder's choice as Shipman corralled the ball and fired to Chavanne at third to retire the lead runner. Third baseman Kate Armstrong hit a little blooper that threatened to drop in for a hit right behind second base. Junior Lauren Gibson appeared out of nowhere, however, making a diving back-handed "web gem" grab for a huge second out. A walk to first baseman Erica Sisson loaded the bags full of Blazers and ended Ellen Renfroe's stint in the circle as sister Ivy entered in relief. The 6-0 right-hander immediately induced a foul pop-up just off to the left side of the plate by shortstop Heather Pearson as the Blazers left the bases loaded.
The Big Orange speed game got things started in the top of the third as Chavanne christened the frame with a perfect high-bouncing slap single before quickly swiping her 100th career base to reach scoring position. Dotson reached in bizarre fashion as a half swing was considered strike three by the home plate umpire and the Savannah, Ga., native took advantage of a wild pitch in the dirt to get to first. That set the stage for a big RBI double from Shipman as Chavanne easily scored from second to make it 2-0.
Tennessee's top-rated defense again flexed its muscle to finish off the bottom of the third. With two down in the frame, designated player Kayla Orr blasted a drive into the right center field gap. Sophomore Tory Lewis raced over from her position in center and made an incredible fully-extended diving catch to bring the inning to a close as the Lee Stadium contingent gave the Chattanooga, Tenn., native a standing ovation.
Burchell got another scoring rally underway in the top of the fourth by starting the frame with a double to the Lee Stadium wall. Following a sacrifice bunt and a strikeout, Chavanne extended the outburst by drawing a walk off reliever Lannah Campbell, placing runners at the corners with two down. Dotson hit a ball forced Sisson to extend to her right to make a grab. On the play, no Blazer covered the first base bag as both Burchell and Chavanne raced across as the UT advantage climbed to 4-0.
With Ivy Renfroe keeping the Blazer offense under control from the circle, the Lady Vols continued expanding their lead in the top of the fifth. Gibson singled with one out, moving to second on a perfectly executed sacrifice bunt off the bat of senior Holly Baker. Consecutive two-out RBI singles from Brown and Burchell plated two more runs as UT moved in front, 6-0. Andrews walked and freshman pinch hitter Hannah Akamine was struck by a pitch, packing the bases full of Tennessee runners. Chavanne stepped into the batter's box and hit a hard grounder through the infield for a pair of RBIs as the Big Orange made it 8-0.
From there it was just left for Ivy Renfroe to finish off the victory and the Jackson, Tenn., native did just that. She struck out Armstrong, got Sisson to fly out to left and then punched out pinch-hitter Issa Brown swinging to conclude the contest.
2012 Knoxville Regional
Friday, May 18
3:30 p.m. ET UAB vs. Virginia Tech (Va. Tech, 4-1)
6 p.m. ET Miami (Ohio) vs. Tennessee (Miami, 1-0)
Saturday, May 19
1:30 p.m. ET Virginia Tech vs. Miami (Ohio) (Va. Tech, 6-0)
4 p.m. ET Tennessee vs. UAB (Tennessee, 8-0, 5 inn.)
6:30 p.m. ET Tennessee/Miami (Ohio) (Game Five)
Sunday, May 20
1:30 p.m. ET Virginia Tech/Winner Game Five (Game Six)
4 p.m. ET (if necessary) Rematch of Game Six
The University of Tennessee