Lady Vols knock off No. 2 seed Florida; Washington next

Tennessee's Ellen Renfroe pitches against Florida during a Women's College World Series game Thursday in Oklahoma City.

Photo by Andrew Bruckse, University of Tennessee Athletics

Tennessee's Ellen Renfroe pitches against Florida during a Women's College World Series game Thursday in Oklahoma City.

Tennessee softball coach, players after win over Florida

OKLAHOMA CITY — Forget close. Forget extra innings. Forget history.

In a script that defied a track record of tedious nail-biting between two SEC archrivals, Tennessee routed Florida 9-2 Thursday on opening day of softball’s grand event, the Women’s College World Series.

And the view looks so much better from the winners’ bracket.

The No. 7 seed Lady Vols (50-10) are back at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium on Friday (TV: ESPN, 7 p.m.) to face Washington (45-15), the No. 11 seed who wasn’t even supposed to be here but beat Nebraska 4-3 in eight innings Thursday.

“It’s definitely good to get that first win under your belt,’’ said UT senior outfielder Kat Dotson who wore out Florida with three hits, three RBIs and scored two runs.

“After last year we had a lot to prove. We wanted to come out and say, ‘We’re here, we came to play this year.’ ’’

The UT-Washington winner gets Saturday off. The loser plays an elimination game Saturday night.

Last year, Tennessee bowed out quietly, losing its first two games for the first time in five WCWS appearances.

To avoid a similar dispiriting trip into the losers’ bracket, they had to conquer a longtime nemesis.

Florida (57-8), the No. 2 seed, had won 17 of the past 20 games from UT, took two of three this year in March and nudged the Lady Vols out of the SEC regular season title by percentage points on the final day of the regular season.

The past four UT-Florida games had gone eight innings to reach a verdict.

This time, Tennessee trumped Florida’s ace.

Taking advantage of a wild start by Florida All-American Hannah Rogers, Tennessee struck for a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning and never trailed.

Ellen Renfroe (18-4) made it stand up, fashioning a four-hitter.

Rogers (33-6) threw only 24 pitches before getting the hook. She retired just one of five batters and walked three, including Cheyanne Tarango to force in the game’s first run.

“It’s not something we expected,’’ said UT senior third baseman Raven Chavanne. “She’s a great pitcher, a first-team All-American. She just didn’t have her best stuff.’’

Rogers started Melissa Brown off with two balls and that was it. Lauren Haeger reported from the bullpen and was greeted by Brown’s two-run double to make it 3-0.

That’s how it stayed for a while. But a crowd of 7,911 would get some drama after all.

Florida got to Renfroe for two runs in the fifth — shortly after ESPN’s camera caught her snacking on a turkey sandwich in the top of the inning.

“It didn’t work too well,’’ she said later with a laugh.

But it could have been worse. She got Taylor Schwarz to tap out an infield grounder leaving the bases loaded and UT’s 3-2 lead intact going to the sixth.

At which point, Lady Vols co-head coach Ralph Weekly, delivered a timely message.

Weekly: “I told ’em ‘You’re not going to back into a championship. You’ve got to be explosive and be explosive right now or they’ll come and take it from you.’ ’’

How’s this for explosive? Hannah Akamine’s leadoff single ignited a four-run rally that included two Florida errors and saw Dotson rope a two-run double down the right-field line, followed by Lauren Gibson slicing an RBI double down the left-field line.

Dotson wasn’t done yet.

She smacked a triple to the center-field fence in the seventh, driving in the ninth run.

“I just always do really well against Florida,’’ Dotson said. “No matter home or away, I do well and feel confident.

“It just feels natural and I don’t have to think too much.’’

The nine runs were the most allowed by Florida all season. The Gators’ seven previous losses were by a combined nine runs.

From a familiar foe, the focus now turns to an unfamiliar one. UT and Washington have played four times, the most recent in 2009, each winning twice.

The Huskies upset Missouri in a Super Regional to return to the site of their 2009 national championship.

On Thursday, Nebraska had one foot in the winner’s bracket, leading 3-2 going into the bottom of the seventh.

But the Huskies tied it when Victoria Hayward tripled and scored on a sacrifice bunt by Hooch Nagaly.

Then 5-foot-3 Kimberlee Souza ended it in the eighth with a walk-off home run over the left-field fence.

Washington recorded only three hits — two home runs and a triple. Winning pitcher Kaitlin Inglesby clobbered a two-run shot in the first.

“In the conference we come from you pitch well, play great defense and get that timely hit,’’ said Washington coach Heather Tarr, “so we’re used to it.’’

It’s safe to say Tennessee’s coaching staff burned the midnight oil Thursday night into Friday morning assembling a dossier on the Huskies.

“I only know what I saw on television,’’ Weekly said. “I just know they’re good.’’

Follow Mike Strange on Twitter at Strangemike44.

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Comments » 60

lemme_axya_this writes:

If it had been a fight, they would have stopped it.

wazzya69vol writes:

Great job Lady Vols. We are so proud of you, and beating the Gators makes it even sweeter!!

SummittsCourt writes:

Awesome win Lady Vols! Getting that first win is critical to winning it all and beating the gators 9-2 makes it all that much sweeter!

This is their year!

orangecountyvols writes:

Vols,

Batting first, always important to be on top early. Lady Vols scored early and late.

Florida is a good team..........it happens though, you have games like this sometimes.

Best of all is the lizard chops non existent.

Now, the Lady Vols know this is just one game. A pretty good confidence builder though, and this one is good for ole' mo.

huntined#565710 writes:

Darn those LADY VOLS...

laraccoon writes:

Ellen was awesome .

voloffaith writes:

Had a migraine hit b4 got home and went here first for twitter update. Saw good info and went in to watch on eSpN. Happy for the Lady Vols! Either Rogers was way off and we were hot or we had a new strategy learned from the past. Whether it was that or both I'm happy for our team and coaches. Now the Huskettes are next as another formidible opponent. One game at a time. Oh BTW I saw some slap hitting that evaded chomper defense and was productive. Weekly's took what the defense offered and made it work. We combined both aspects of hitting to come out on top. Table setter's got on base for the power hitters to drive them in . Winning formula Tennessee style!!!!!!!!!

vol98champ writes:

I am a very happy camper tonight.

dwolfcreek#397971 writes:

WOW

PureOrange writes:

Way to start this march to the NC ladies!

Now don't let up, and get on the easy road by running over Washington.

Good to get that first one!

Ellen had to really work to stay positive with the terrible calls behind the plate, and the outrageous call at first on a sure out. But she did it!

ModelMaker writes:

When the Gators scored two runs in the fifth to make it 3-2, I thought now we are going to find out what the Lady Vol's are made of. Well I guess we all found out. I thought the Lady Vol's answered the challenge very well. I thought Ellen pitched well, keeping a very good hitting Florida team off balance the whole game. But I was mostly impressed with the way the girls hit the ball in the sixth.

JSmith525 writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

JSmith525 writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

tovolny writes:

HOO-RAY, get out of their way.

The LadyVols are gonna stay.

To Oklahoma on a mission,

to test skills of teams from afar.

The LadyVols have gotten the rest's attention,

the others know Renfro means a double star.

The LadyVols have more Cheyennes and Chavannes than you can shake a stick at. How many, nobody knows.

But the other gals start gritting their teeth whenever these names show.

Yeeeeaaaaaa Lady Vols, let's G O.

Titan writes:

in response to HaplessVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

The Lady Vols have a great win and you use this thread as a forum for a tirade about Dave Hart. Sad.

JSmith525 writes:

in response to Titan:

The Lady Vols have a great win and you use this thread as a forum for a tirade about Dave Hart. Sad.

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

huntined#565710 writes:

They beat a good number 2 seed today. It was a great win and FLA'S Rogers did have a real bad day and TENN just looked as if they really wanted it more. Scored a bunch of runs and left a bunch on base. If they do that every game they will be hard to beat.

vol98champ writes:

HaplessVol I don't know who you are, but you sure are hapless and are no more a Vol than a gator or elephant swimming in the Tennessee River. Let it go Dude and smell the roses instead of the stink weed.

Titan writes:

in response to HaplessVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Show me one sentence in your original comment where you were "celebrating the Lady Vols victory." And so in your rebuttal you continue on your Dave Hart rampage. If you're too blinded by your hate of Hart to be happy with his hiring of Butch, there's not much hope for you. Even if I agreed with your Dave Hart rant I'd still say the same thing - TAKE IT SOMEWHERE ELSE.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

Great win and the silencing of the gator trolls, just as I predicted..GBO!!

voloffaith writes:

in response to HaplessVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Here comes a lil salvo that you need coming your way............the circus has left town and apparently left Bozo the clown. Get over it! You weren't celebrating at all! You were mired (again) in the muck of living(stuck on) the AD and his supposed cronies and their plan to destroy UT. Just say yay Lady Vols and leave the other agenda/continuing tirade of yours to an article on the AD if you can be strong enough to stick to the TOPIC.

voloffaith writes:

in response to Hacaf1965:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You and happylessunvol are two peas in a pod. Unhappy with lil agendas that you weave into every article whether they apply or not. So blinded that any UT victory is usually missed because you can't(apparently) wait to type tirade #3000 in a continuous series ASAP. Funny how you poster chillin' type/appear right after each other right on cue. Anyway Go Lady Vols take down the Huskettes of Washington U.!!!

voloffaith writes:

in response to Hacaf1965:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Hey halfcaffenated65 you are OFF TOPIC proving agenda talking points is all that matters. Butch Jones has nothing to with Lady Vols winning as Dave Hart doesn't either. Grow up and make your points when they are relevant to the topic. Your ongoing rants with your alter ego are so tiresome as you could literally cut n paste your drivel from article to article. Try and be relevant as to the article. WE all know Coach Jones wasn't first candidate etc. We all know AD Hart has some past laundry issues. None of those things has any relevancy to the article. Get it? Stay on topic and throw your dirty'laundry' in topics that pertain to AD's job performance etc. Let's move on and let the sun set on a great Lady Vol victory to be enjoyed for 24hrs til the next encounter.

volprof80 writes:

Congrats on an epic win! Go Vols!

laraccoon writes:

in response to voloffaith:

You and happylessunvol are two peas in a pod. Unhappy with lil agendas that you weave into every article whether they apply or not. So blinded that any UT victory is usually missed because you can't(apparently) wait to type tirade #3000 in a continuous series ASAP. Funny how you poster chillin' type/appear right after each other right on cue. Anyway Go Lady Vols take down the Huskettes of Washington U.!!!

i dont know if you and him are the same , i know these morons reply to themselves but if your not what possible reason could you have replying to such a dip ? do you actually read what it says ? Ive never heard anyone who knows less about UT athletics run their pie hole as much as it does . why would you give it the time of day ?

voloffaith writes:

in response to Hacaf1965:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Hey sport didn't realize we had a one time word usage clause. It was placed in my post which had no further remblances to your lil tirade. But as expected you didn't respond to my content. Only to seeing a itsy bitsy similarity.....boy life must be very exciting around your house...Johnny don't forget daddy was the first to show you how to toast your bread.....remember daddy was first to show you how to pour milk in a bowl....all these great accomplishments all because of your benevolence toward your child. Ah the memories they have of their HUMBLE father there to always seek credit for any good they do/did. "Pride comes before the fall." I hope you have a pleasant night's rest as this is my final post on an article that you and your ego have tried to sidetrack unsuccessfully.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to HaplessVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Actually, Peyton was told to recruit CBJ to Colorado, not Tennessee. In fact, CBJ said he thought PM would be shocked he ended up at UT after just receiving text messages from Peyton to take the Colorado job. So, Dave Hart may have been late offering CBJ, but it was all Hart's doing..Sorry.

voloffaith writes:

in response to laraccoon:

i dont know if you and him are the same , i know these morons reply to themselves but if your not what possible reason could you have replying to such a dip ? do you actually read what it says ? Ive never heard anyone who knows less about UT athletics run their pie hole as much as it does . why would you give it the time of day ?

I said my last reply to caffy65, but saw yours and felt clarification was needed. I am not SYBIL of many personalities. I have been on here since 2007 with a boat load of words that don't come near our two/or one lil cronies drivel they send out. I respond sometimes and others I let go. It's an exercise that is sad and yet humorous at the same time that they think they are seriously taken on this site. Sorry for spoiling your day if it did by muddying the waters further.........

TNORANGEDOGDAD writes:

Elephants and now Gators! How sweet it is. Keep the safari hunt going. GO LADY VOLS!!

MooseandSquirrelVol writes:

in response to HaplessVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I'm sure Dave Hart and Jimmy Cheek read these posts religously and hang on your every word.
Have you given any thought about wrighting letters to the editor and staying on topic on this site?

utvolfan1955 writes:

in response to HaplessVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

he hasn't used this handle much until lately but this is obviously one of Jeffy's user names, probably also 1/100

tovolny writes:

HISSY FITS and SPATS...come on GUYS (!!!!) Stick to the subject. Y'all need to meet at the Copper Cellar and have a cold one together. Please don't invite me.

utvolfan1955 writes:

I wonder where little zz gator is?

underthehill writes:

in response to PureOrange:

Way to start this march to the NC ladies!

Now don't let up, and get on the easy road by running over Washington.

Good to get that first one!

Ellen had to really work to stay positive with the terrible calls behind the plate, and the outrageous call at first on a sure out. But she did it!

It appeared to me that the home plate ump was not consistent..was giving the outside part of the plate to Fla for strikes and calling the same pitch a ball for Ellen..the first 4 innings Ellen was getting ahead in the count and started the 5th getting behind and was tiring..to her credit she did play thru it..the whole team looked focused and determined..hope it continues...

GOJO writes:

The chompetts got chomped. How sweet it is.

underthehill writes:

in response to HaplessVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

It appears to me the Jennings case will be settled by UT or go to court ..but I don't see what that has to do with this great Lady Vol win..any knowledgeable Vol fan knows Dave had nothing to do with it..there is a time for all things..time to celebrate a great game by the Lady Vols..hope to see more...

laraccoon writes:

in response to voloffaith:

I said my last reply to caffy65, but saw yours and felt clarification was needed. I am not SYBIL of many personalities. I have been on here since 2007 with a boat load of words that don't come near our two/or one lil cronies drivel they send out. I respond sometimes and others I let go. It's an exercise that is sad and yet humorous at the same time that they think they are seriously taken on this site. Sorry for spoiling your day if it did by muddying the waters further.........

i often read your thoughts and i would never confuse your opinion with that clueless one .your just a vol fan and you get offended when someone rags your team , the same as i . guess i have fallen into the same "reply to the idiot trap " and was just trying to prevent another from repeating my misfortunes but i realize vol fans speak their minds which is admirably to say the least . if anyone is guilty of "muddying the waters " it was probably me .

abnerPeabody writes:

in response to HaplessVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You wouldn't know the truth if it hit you in the arss. You need to get professional help fast.

utvolfan1955 writes:

in response to HaplessVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I don't really give a rip about Hart one way or the other but go to Volquest and you can read plenty of articles about the support Hart has. There is an article right now where Holly Warlick gives Hart her full support. Not surprised to find out that you are a liberal

utvolfan1955 writes:

in response to Hacaf1965:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

post some links to what you say

utvolfan1955 writes:

in response to HaplessVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Wow you really do hate the Vols. Holly won SEC coach of the year. Holly led the Lady Vols to the Elite Eight. Holly signed the top high school player. This is a real example of Hart's incompetence.

utvolfan1955 writes:

in response to Hacaf1965:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

In other words as usual you have no proof

WaltGoVoIs writes:

Now THAT was a fun game to watch.

Walt

UT '81

volfan2002 writes:

What a great win we have a chance to go far in this tourney.

kyvol98 writes:

Left a LOT of runners on base early, but rallied when it counted. Time to send the Huskies to the "other" bracket and get Saturday off.

vol98champ writes:

KNS staff, I applaud you. How sweet it is to see those dudes deleted. Back on topic; Ellen must have really had some good spin on the ball. I have never seen so many foul balls. I only remember a couple of fly balls that reached the field. Hope her arm is able to recover quickly.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

I haven't watched one game. I've rad about several. I don't understand my lack of interest in baseball or softball. I played some in High school. I was a Braves fan when Hank was king.

I will attempt to watch the Vols beat the huskies. Huskies is just another pack of Dawgs. The LV's can take 'em. Go Vols I'm on the bandwagon.lol

cheetah-vol writes:

in response to underthehill:

It appeared to me that the home plate ump was not consistent..was giving the outside part of the plate to Fla for strikes and calling the same pitch a ball for Ellen..the first 4 innings Ellen was getting ahead in the count and started the 5th getting behind and was tiring..to her credit she did play thru it..the whole team looked focused and determined..hope it continues...

Thanks for posting this. I noticed the same thing about the plate umpire's inconsistent strike zone. Thought it was just me and my old eye-sight.

The heat seemed to be getting to both pitchers, but The LV's seemed to figure out how to hit against those outside "strike" pitches by Rogers, especially Kat, and the rout was on. And, yes, Ellen was super and kept her cool by sticking with her pitches regardless of the call.

snowpeapod#263184 writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

GerryOP writes:

It was interesting watching/listening to the ESPN commentary on the game. Kind of at a loss for words when UT surged ahead.

Good job LadyVols! Bring on the Huskies!

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