No. 8 Lady Vols blast ETSU, 8-0

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. ( -- On a chilly Saturday night in Tennessee Classic action at the Lee Softball Stadium, senior right fielder Shelby Burchell equaled a UT school single-game record with three doubles and junior right fielder Melissa Brown went 2-for-4 with three RBIs to back a one-hit shutout from junior pitcher Ivy Renfroe as the #8 Tennessee Lady Vol softball team (12-3) rolled past ETSU, 8-0 (6 inn.).

Burchell’s (3-for-3, RBI) trio of doubles tied a Big Orange school record most recently equaled back on March 6, 2002, by former Lady Vol Adrianna Wilson during a victory over Tennessee State. The Columbia, Tenn., native hit .800 (4-for-5) with four doubles and a pair of RBIs during Saturday’s wins over Memphis and ETSU.

A Valencia, Calif., product, Brown also helped lead a 12-hit offensive assault with the 2-for-4 effort and a team-best three RBIs. Junior third baseman Raven Chavanne was 2-for-4 with a pair of steals, while junior second baseman Lauren Gibson (0-1, RBI), freshman catcher Hannah Akamine (1-for-2, RBI), junior Whitney Hammond (1-for-1, RBI) and senior Holly Baker (1-for-1, triple, RBI) were each credited with an RBI.

In the circle Ivy Renfroe (3-3) was as dominant as her sister Ellen was during the day’s opening triumph over Memphis, firing a one-hit shutout with seven strikeouts.

“I’m proud of the team, and I’m proud of the effort today,” Lady Vol Co-Head Coach Ralph Weekly said. “Quite frankly I’m concerned with the number of runners we’re leaving on base. We must be leading the nation in leaving the bases loaded, and we did it again tonight. When we get into conference play leaving runners stranded will hurt us. I had a long talk with our team about it, and we really worked hard this week on hitting with runners in scoring position. We’ve just got to get more RBIs, because we’re leaving a ton of runners.”

Despite hitting ETSU first baseman Casey Horner with a pitch with two down in the top of the first, Renfroe was thoroughly dominant during the opening frame, striking out both left fielder Annie Martin and right fielder Sade Johnson before inducing a routine grounder to second by designated player Alex Everett to conclude the inning.

Tennessee’s Chavanne attempted to get something started for the Big Orange offense in the bottom of the first by beating out a bunt single leading off the frame. Following a sacrifice bunt by junior designated player Kat Dotson, both Gibson and sophomore shortstop Madison Shipman blasted HR-worthy shots that drifted just foul. Unfortunately, a long foul down the line from the former and a pop-up to second by the latter left Chavanne stranded in scoring position.

Another UT chance went begging in the bottom of the second, following a one-out double by Burchell, via a foul-out behind the plate by sophomore left fielder Melissa Davin, a hit batter (freshman catcher Hannah Akamine) and a bouncer to third by sophomore center fielder Tory Lewis.

Buc center fielder Nicole Fox managed ETSU’s initial base knock of the contest in the third on a one-out single through the left side. Back-to-back choppers were handled routinely by Chavanne at third, however, leaving the runner standing at second.

An ETSU miscue on a bouncer to second allowed Chavanne to reach successfully christening the bottom of the third and opened the door for a big Tennessee scoring outburst. The Thousand Oaks, Calif., immediately swiped her fifth bag of the season and advanced up 60 feet to third on a groundout from Dotson. With one down, Gibson surprised everyone with a bunt as Chavanne easily raced home for a 1-0 lead. A single from Shipman and back-to-back RBI doubles from Brown and Burchell plated two more as the advantage expanded to three tallies.

The Bucs attempted to answer right back in the top of the fourth, getting lead-off batter Casey Horner on base via a strikeout/wild pitch combination. She managed to reach scoring position but advanced no further as a chopper to short and a fly ball to center finished off any potential threat with no damage done.

The Lady Vols added another run on the scoreboard in the bottom of the fifth as Akamine followed Burchell’s third double of the contest with a two-out RBI base knock as UT’s lead expanded to 4-0.

With Renfroe rolling along having retired nine consecutive batters from the fourth through the sixth frames, Dotson got what turned out to be the final scoring outburst started in the bottom of the sixth via a single. Facing a new pitcher in ETSU reliever Shelby Morris, Gibson walked to set the stage for a two-out, two-RBI double from Brown. Baker followed immediately with an RBI triple to improve the lead to 7-0, before Hammond ripped a walk-off base knock to plate Baker and end the contest via the sixth-inning run-rule.

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