No. 5 Lady Vols blast Arkansas 9-1

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. ( -- With a second consecutive sellout crowd (and fifth of the season) of 1,649 Orange-clad fans in attendance on Sunday at the Lee Softball Stadium, No. 5 Tennessee (44-7, 20-5 Southeastern Conference) got three RBIs from both Raven Chavanne and Lauren Gibson to back a one-hitter by Ivy Renfroe as UT completed a dominant series sweep of Arkansas, 9-1 (5 inn.).

Over the three match-ups the Lady Vols out-scored the Razorbacks by a 28-2 count, hit .419 as a team to go along seven doubles and four HR’s and now possess 20 run-rule victories in 2011.

“This was a great effort by everyone on our team,” Lady Vol Co-Head Coach Ralph Weekly said. “We wanted to come out and make sure that this Sunday would end up as good as our previous two Sundays (victories at #21 LSU and Ole Miss). Karen (Co-Head Coach Weekly) and I challenged them again today to come out strong from the start, and they responded even better than we could have expected. Lauren Gibson has been truly phenomenal for us all season long and continued her torrid hitting today with a three-run home run.”

By going 2-for-3 at the plate with a three-RBI double and two runs scored, sophomore left fielder Raven Chavanne extended her career-best hitting streak to 14 games. The Thousand Oaks, Calif., native lifted her overall batting average to a league-leading .473 and is now hitting at a blistering .609 clip (29-of-48) over the 14-contest skein. During the series against the Razorbacks, Chavanne reached base safely nine of the 10 times she came to the plate with four doubles, three walks and two singles for a .857 average.

UT’s sophomore second baseman Lauren Gibson blasted a three-run shot in the bottom of the fourth, her sixth HR of the year, as part of a perfect 2-for-2 effort with three tallies and a trio of RBIs. The Pasadena, Md., product currently leads the SEC in batting average (counting league games only) at .479 while 27 of her 54 total RBIs in 2011 have occurred during league action.

Big Orange sophomore right fielder Kat Dotson doubled and registered her team-best 59th RBI as part of a 1-for-2 performance, while freshman first baseman Melissa Davin was credited with an RBI via a sacrifice fly.

By virtue of a complete-game, one-hitter, sophomore Ivy Renfroe improved her overall record to 17-3 and 9-2 in SEC play. The Jackson, Tenn., native permitted one unearned run, walked three and struck out eight while throwing 95 total pitches. Over her last nine appearances in the circle, the 6-0 right hander is a perfect 8-0 with a 0.41 ERA and 58 K’s in 51.0 innings while limiting the opposition to a miniscule .166 batting average.

The contest got off to a rocky start for the Lady Vols during the top of the first as the Razorback offense got something started immediately with a little Big Orange assistance. A walk by UA second baseman Jennifer Rambo, a fielding miscue on the UT infield and a single to left center off the bat of right fielder Amanda Geile packed the bases full of Razorbacks with one out. Renfroe registered a big K of catcher Jayme Gee to move closer to escaping the jam. With two down in the frame, third baseman Jessica Robison battled Tennessee’s hurler over a 12-pitch at-bat before finally drawing a free pass that forced in an unearned tally to give Arkansas a 1-0 lead. First baseman Stephanie Brewer went down swinging, however, as the ‘Hogs could manage only a single tally during the threat.

The Big Orange offense got untracked in the bottom of the second against UA starter Kim Jones, benefitting from a little Razorback help in return. Gibson and junior third baseman Jessica Spigner (1-for-2, run) christened the assault with consecutive singles to open the frame. After two quick outs it looked as if the Lady Vols might come up empty on the scoreboard. Freshman shortstop Madison Shipman hit a grounder on the infield, however, that misplayed for an error. On the play Gibson raced around from second to tie the game, and the floodgates promptly opened. Following a walk issued to junior catcher Ashley Andrews that loaded the bases, Chavanne cleared them with a three-RBI double off the top of the fence that missed going out of Lee Stadium by about two feet. Dotson continued the attack with an RBI two-bagger as Chavanne sped around to score and make it 5-1, Tennessee.

With Renfroe firmly in control after the challenging opening frame, the Big Orange continued to add to its advantage. Back-to-back walks from Gibson and Spigner to open the bottom of the third, a fly out and a stolen base by freshman pinch runner Tory Lewis set the stage for a sacrifice fly from Davin as the lead expanded to five tallies.

Gibson saved the biggest blow of the contest until the bottom of the fourth, however, as she followed infield singles by sophomore pinch hitter Whitney Hammond and Chavanne with a towering three-run shot to improve the count to 9-1.

Suddenly faced with one final opportunity to avoid the run-rule, Arkansas could get nothing going against Renfroe. Shortstop Chloe Oprzedek struck out, center fielder Becca Carden grounded out to third and Rambo went down swinging to complete UT’s series sweep.

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