No. 3 UT softball team crushes TTU, 12-3

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (UT Release) -Lauren Gibson hit a walk-off three-run homer in the bottom of the fifth, Kat Dotson drove in four runs and Cheyanne Tarango hit a solo blast to lead No. 3 Tennessee to a 12-3, five-inning win over Tennessee Tech on Friday at Lee Stadium.

Tennessee (35-6) scored three in the second, one in the third, two in the fourth and six in the fifth to put away Tennessee Tech (16-18).

The win marked Tennessee's 78th consecutive win over an in-state opponent. Ralph Weekly and Karen Weekly are 73-0 against in-state foes and the Lady Vols are now 107-3 against teams from the state of Tennessee.

Gibson's three-run jack to end the game was her 10th on the season. Dotson was 2-for-3 with a two-RBI double and four runs driven in. Raven Chavanne was 2-for-2 with one RBI, one walk and two runs. Tarango was 2-for-3 with a solo homer. Melissa Brown it a triple, had an RBI sac bunt, drew a walk and scored twice.

Tarango (5-1) earned the win after starting the game and striking out three over three frames with one earned run allowed. Ivy Renfroe tossed four strikeouts and allowed one earned run over two relief innings.

Claudia Harke (4-5) took the loss after allowing six earned runs over 3.1 innings. Taylor Ketchum gave up four earned runs in one relief frame. Erica Tuck gave up two earned runs and surrendered the the game-ending home run. Tuck recorded one out in the fifth.

Tennessee took a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the second. Tarango opened the inning with a solo home run to center field, clubbing a 3-2 pitch from Harke over the fence in the deepest part of the field. Brown reached with a triple to center and three batters later Rainey Gaffin drove her in with an RBI single to left field. Chavanne was hit by a pitch in the next at-bat and Dotson followed with an RBI single through the right side to score Gaffin.

The Lady Vols added their fourth run in the bottom of the third. Madison Shipman took a full count pitch from Harke to left center for a leadoff double. Two batters later Brown brought Shipman home with an RBI squeeze bunt to first base.

Tennessee Tech got on the scoreboard in the top of the fourth. Hannah Eldridge opened the inning with a solo homer down the left field line. After Olivia Bennett singled to left field in the next at-bat, Ivy Renfroe replaced Tarango in the circle. Renfroe escaped a bases-loaded jam later in the inning when she sent Chelsea Burgess down swinging on a 2-2 count.

UT scored two in the bottom of the fourth to push its lead to 6-1. With one out and runners on first and second, Taylor Ketchum relived Harke in the circle. Dotson sent a 2-2 pitch from Ketchum to right center for a two RBI double, but got caught in a 9-4-5 rundown.

The Golden Eagles scored two more in the top of the fifth to pull to within 6-3. With two on and no outs, Eldridge hit an RBI single up the middle. Two batters later, Melody Christian scored from third base on a passed ball.

Tennessee poured on six runs in the fifth to end the game. With one out and runners on the corners, Hannah Akamine clubbed an RBI single to left field. After Tory Lews drew a four-pitch walk to load the bases, Tuck relieved Ketchum in the circle. Raven Chavanne drew an RBI walk with the bases loaded and Kat Dotson followed with a sac fly to right. With runners on second and third and two outs, Gibson stepped in, took the first two pitches and the blasted the next pitch over the wall in center field for a three-run shot to end the game.

The Lady Vols will next host SEC rival Auburn for a three-game series this Friday through Sunday. Friday's game is at 6:30 p.m. and will feature a live video broadcast on and a radio broadcast on WNML 990 AM with Brian Rice on the call. Saturday's game is at 11:30 a.m. and will be televised on CSS with Melissa Lee doing play-by-play and Barbara Jordan as the analyst. Sunday's game is at 1:30 p.m. with live video on and live audio on WNML 990 AM.

Tennessee is celebrating the first of two Senior Day festivities before Saturday's game. UT will honor seniors Melissa Brown, Kat Dotson, Lauren Gibson and Ivy Renfro before the game. Fans are advised to arrive early.

Tickets for the three games are selling fast and a limited number remain. Contact the UT ticket office at 865-656-1200 for remaining ticket availability.

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