Tennessee's Ellen Renfroe shuts out South Carolina, 5-0 in SEC softball

Missouri stands in way of title game

Tennessee's Ellen Renfroe pitches to South Carolina during the Lady Vols' 5-0 win over the Gamecocks in the SEC Tournament in Lexington, Ky., on Thursday, May 9, 2013.

UT Athletics

Tennessee's Ellen Renfroe pitches to South Carolina during the Lady Vols' 5-0 win over the Gamecocks in the SEC Tournament in Lexington, Ky., on Thursday, May 9, 2013.



LEXINGTON, Ky. — Tennessee began its quest for an SEC softball tournament title on Thursday as authoritatively as it had played since a midseason 19-game winning streak. The Lady Vols advanced to the semifinals with a 5-0 win against No. 10-seeded South Carolina.

Ellen Renfroe threw her fifth shutout of the season for the No. 2-seeded Lady Vols (44-9), allowing four hits and one walk with five strikeouts. She didn’t allow a runner past second base, and only on one occasion, in the fourth inning, did South Carolina (32-23) have two runners on base at the same time.

Renfroe punctuated her complete-game shutout with a perfect seventh and a called strike three on third baseman Codee Yeske that Renfroe credited to catcher Hannah Akamine as much as she did herself.

“I think a lot of people don’t give catchers and people behind the scenes enough credit,” Renfroe said. “It takes talent back there. She frames the ball, has confidence back there. That, plus a few pitches were working tonight for me. I think that all combined for a good game.”

The Lady Vols will play No. 3-seeded Missouri (34-10), an 8-0 winner against Arkansas, in the semifinals Friday (TV: ESPNU, 3:30 p.m.). Top-seeded Florida takes on Georgia in the other semifinal. Tennessee ended its regular season losing two out of three games on the road against the Tigers.

The Lady Vols took control of the game in the bottom of the first before South Carolina starter Audrey Broyles recorded an out. Leadoff hitter Raven Chavanne singled back to the pitcher, and after stealing second base, Lauren Gibson knocked a double off the left-field wall to plate Chavanne.

On the first pitch of the next at-bat, Gibson stole third on a delayed play behind a charged-in third baseman, and a throwing error from catcher Shelby Gonzales allowed Gibson to score easily.

Kat Dotson added a home run, her fifth of the season, later in the inning to make it 3-0.

“We talk about this a lot,” Renfroe said of scoring early runs. “It takes a little bit of pressure off the defense as a whole, not necessarily just pitching. Even our defensive players all around. Not that we can take anyone lightly, obviously. It allows us to relax a little bit more and it gives us confidence throughout the game to know that we can keep putting runs on the board.”

Tennessee co-head coach Ralph Weekly said his main point before Thursday’s game was to forget about what happened in Missouri and come out with runs early against South Carolina, playing like the club that won 19 in a row instead of the won that lost three of four to finish the regular season.

“We didn’t want to be playing the blame game,” Weekly said. “Missouri deserved to win last weekend. They played outstanding. They’ve got a great club, and we had a chance to beat them up there. It was just a long weekend. We just wanted to get back on track.”

James Pennington is a freelance contributor.

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Comments » 14

WaltGoVoIs writes:

That was a fun game to watch.

Walt

UT '81

SummittsCourt writes:

Renfro + Chavanne + Gibson = Wins!

When these ladies are on they are tough to beat.

Go Lady Vols, beat those tigerettes!

SummittsCourt writes:

in response to WaltGoVoIs:

That was a fun game to watch.

Walt

UT '81

Walt,

I don't know if I've seen you post on the softball articles before, but if not, welcome - it's great to have you.

dvhill100 writes:

Good luck ladies. Hope you make it all the way this year.

volsfaninsc writes:

Now the Tigerettes that tarnished SEC hopes last weekend......either pitcher beat us. I think today we just might settle that score. Thomas no hit due primarily to her drop ball that takes away our power game. Today is a different day so play if you can and beat them and the inclement weather approaching.

Fall_Creek_Vols writes:

The Lady Vols played very well. Now. don't we owe Mizzou a little payback?

Getcha some.

SummittsCourt writes:

The announcers were saying they may not pitch Chelsea Thomas in order to save her for the NCAA tournament. I don't get that at all. I hope they pitch her today so the Lady Vols can beat their best!

orangecountyvols writes:

Lady Vol fans,

This was more like it ! Ellen back to her sharp pitching ways. Yes, we owe Missouri a little something extra.

Fact is, all the remaining SEC teams in the tournament are capable of winning it. Just hope the Lady Vols are extra capable of doing so !

yopatrick#231155 writes:

Chelsea Thomas, who has been suffering from a sore arm, only threw 67 pitches yesterday, so expect her to start today. Two keys for today's game - make Thomas throw a lot of pitches and keep Mizzou from scoring any easy runs (i.e no errors or walks). I like the LVs chances :-)

cheetah-vol writes:

in response to SummittsCourt:

Renfro + Chavanne + Gibson = Wins!

When these ladies are on they are tough to beat.

Go Lady Vols, beat those tigerettes!

I like your math. Hope this was a sign they've played themselves out of their mini-slump. They looked really determined. GBO!

voloffaith writes:

in response to cheetah-vol:

I like your math. Hope this was a sign they've played themselves out of their mini-slump. They looked really determined. GBO!

What was it they marked out in the dirt in front of their dugout? FIGHT!! They looked hungry, yet relaxed..I mean Ellen fires a ball over Akamine's head and smiles after then shifts right back to the biz at hand. Mizzou will be tuff if we get the game in b4 bad weather. Raining now as I type.....

volfan2002 writes:

We'll probably need close to a shutout to beat Missouri that pitcher they have is awesome hopefully she has a bad day today.

WaltGoVoIs writes:

in response to SummittsCourt:

Walt,

I don't know if I've seen you post on the softball articles before, but if not, welcome - it's great to have you.

Knowing how reputation can precede, thanks for your comments.

The Lady Vols softball team seems right now to me the best exemplar of the Volunteer spirit.

FIGHT WITH ALL YOUR MIGHT FOR THE ORANGE AND WHITE!!!

Plus they are hot.

Walt

UT '81

WaltGoVoIs writes:

Ladies, I hope ya'll are done with the BS.

Walt

UT '81

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