In front of 1,808 fans on Sunday afternoon at Lee Softball Stadium, #11 Georgia (45-16) forced the "if necessary" contest of the best-of-three NCAA Knoxville Super Regional with a 1-0 victory over #5 Tennessee (51-12).
UGA starter Erin Arevalo (27-8) earned the victory in the circle, limiting the Lady Vol offense to just two hits as junior right fielder Kat Dotson (1-for-2) and freshman designated player Hannah Akamine (1-for-3, double) delivered those base knocks.
Tennessee sophomore pitcher Ellen Renfroe (27-4) suffered a tough defeat, allowing one unearned run on three hits with two walks and three strikeouts in a complete-game effort.
A one-out walk issued to Dotson proved the lone blip during a strong opening inning from the circle for Arevalo as she recorded a fly ball out and consecutive K's.
Despite allowing a two-out single down the left field line from shortstop Paige Wilson, Renfroe was quite strong herself from the circle during the bottom of the first. The Jackson, Tenn., native christened the contest with a swinging strikeout of first baseman Tess Sito and got a pair of grounders handled at third by junior third baseman Raven Chavanne to leave the UGA runner stranded.
Inserted into the line-up as the designated player for the Big Orange, Akamine came through with Tennessee's initial base knock of the contest via a long double off the top of the Lee Stadium wall. Sophomore center fielder Tory Lewis stepped to the dish and ripped a shot down the first base line that was stabbed on a quick hop by Sito. She turned and raced on the bag to conclude the frame with no damage.
UGA center fielder Macie Couey got a scoring opportunity going for the Bulldogs in the bottom of the third with a one-out slap single over Chavanne at third. After Sito was hit by a pitch to put a pair on base, second baseman Ashley Pauly hit a potential double play ball. Unfortunately, after getting the runner at second, the ball was tossed just wide of first for an error as Couey scampered home to make it 1-0 via an unearned tally.
Georgia got another threat underway with two retired in the bottom of the fourth as right fielder Christine Olney drove a ball into the right center field gap. Dotson raced over from her defensive position in right and had the ball in her glove briefly before it popped out as she crashed into the Lee Stadium wall. With two on after left fielder Niaja Griffin walked, third baseman Gracie Goulder hit a sharp bouncer to the right side of the infield. Gibson raced over and dove fully extended to make a grab, jumped to her knees and fired a strike to Brown to end the inning with no damage.
Tennessee's offense finally found some life against Arevalo in the top of the sixth as Dotson christened the frame with a base knock. After a sacrifice bunt try went awry, Burchell hit a hot shot that ventured right between Goulder's legs at third for an error as UT boasted a pair of base runners with still just one down. Unfortunately, the duo never moved from that spot as a strikeout and a bouncer to second llifted the Big Orange's left stranded count to six.
Facing their last chance in the top of the seventh, the Big Orange received a one-out walk from freshman pinch hitter Cheyanne Tarango, but that was it as a fly out by sophomore Melissa Davin and a Chavanne ground ball to shortstop ended the contest.
Georgia and Tennessee will battle it out again at 3:35 p.m. on Sunday with the winner advancing to the Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City, Okla.
The University of Tennessee