The Tennessee softball team’s top three batters —Raven Chavanne, Lauren Gibson and Madison Shipman — combined for eight hits to lead the No. 6 Lady Vols to an 11-2 win over Western Carolina in five innings Monday at Lee Softball Stadium.
Tennessee (30-6) had 11 hits in 4 1/2 innings and produced offensively in about every way except with the home run.
However, the most memorable play of the game might have come on defense. In the third, junior centerfielder Tory Lewis made a difficult catch of a line drive and then threw out the Catamount runner who had left first.
“That was a heck of a play, making a shoestring catch on a line drive and then getting that runner on first for a double play,” said UT co-head coach Karen Weekly.
“You don’t see too many centerfielders who can make that kind of play or cover that kind of ground and track the ball like that and have the arm to make that kind of play.”
Lewis said she actually did not see the ball initially when it came over pitcher Cheyanne Tarango’s head. But her legs quickly made up for her eyes.
“I thought it was going to hit the ground, but I caught it close to the ground,” said the junior from Chattanooga, who is getting back to full speed after suffering a concussion-related injury earlier this year.
Tarango (4-1) managed to keep most of the hits by Western Carolina (11-25) low to the ground. Despite a two-RBI hit by Shemekia Scotton in the first inning, the sophomore pitcher gave up only five hits and finished with four strikeouts.
“I was really rusty,” Tarango admitted after getting a rare start. “Those hits they got at the beginning of the game, they were good pitches. I’ve always been taught if they hit those pitches, you need to put that much more spin on it. And I made that adjustment on it later.”
She also admitted to trying to make positive adjustments on her career after arriving at a program stocked with talent and having to battle for playing time.
“It could be a little better, but it’s going good,” she said. “It’s very competitive.”
Tennessee — which scored five runs in the first, four in the second and two in the fourth — was led by Chavanne’s and Gibson’s three hits each. Getting two RBIs each were Gibson, Shipman, Melissa Davin and Melissa Brown.
Notebook: Chavanne and pitcher Ivy Renfroe were drafted in the National Pro Fastpitch college draft. The Akron Racers chose Renfroe in the second round (8th overall) and the Chicago Bandits took Chavanne to start the fourth round (13th overall). ... Freshman Erin Gabriel had been named to the 2013 USA Softball Junior Women’s National Team. Seventeen players will travel to Canada, July 1-7, for the International Softball Federation Women’s World Championship in Brampton, Ontario.