Ivy Renfroe earned the win for Tennessee (26-8, 8-5) and pitched her third consecutive shutout.
The Lady Vols bounced back from a 5-3 loss on Friday in which Tennessee left 10 runners on base against the Wildcats.
“I thought ours kids played really well today,” Co-Head Coach Ralph Weekly said after Saturday’s win.
“We came out, and we played our game today. They played their game yesterday, so it’s going to be a really good rubber game tomorrow.”
Game three between Tennessee and Kentucky (16-18, 3-5) is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Sunday at Lee Softball Stadium.
Nearly 1,400 fans were on hand Saturday in a game that began with warm temperatures and cloudy but non-menacing skies. An hour later, with the Lady Vols ahead 8-0 through three innings, lightning was striking close enough to the stadium to warrant a mandatory evacuation of the field and stands.
That was followed by torrential rain, hail, showers and another downpour. A game that began at 2:02 p.m. and was delayed at 3:02 p.m. resumed at 6:05 p.m., with 67 patient spectators returning to the stands, including Lady Vol basketball player Kamiko Williams, who led cheers to start the game and returned wrapped in an orange towel to ward off the early evening chill.
Renfroe wasn’t affected by the delay. She gave up two hits, struck out one and got three fly-outs and two groundouts to secure the run-rule win in five innings.
“I was worried about it all during that three-hour delay, but she did a pretty good job,” Weekly said. “Some pitchers, it is tough on them. Others, it’s not that tough.
“We’re proud of her, real proud of her. She knew that she had to be at her best.”
The Lady Vols got all of their runs in the first two innings – three in the first; five in the second – with shortstop Madison Shipman driving in three runs, and outfielder Kat Dotson, second baseman Lauren Gibson and first baseman Melissa Brown bringing in one each.
“When Shipman is on, it always helps our offense,” Weekly said. “She is hitting in that three slot for a reason. When Madison is getting her pitches and swinging at what she should swing at, she is a very formidable offensive player.
“If you have All-Americans like Chavanne and Dotson in front of her, she and Gibson need to drive them in when they get on.”
Third baseman Raven Chavanne opened the game with a double to left, Dotson was hit in the back with a pitch, and Shipman singled through the infield to bring home Chavanne and move Dotson to third.
Gibson grounded out with Dotson scoring and then Shipman crossed the plate on a wild pitch.
In the second inning, catcher Ashley Andrews singled up the middle. That was followed by a scorcher up the middle by center fielder Tory Lewis that was snared by Kentucky pitcher Rachel Riley, who threw to second. But neither the second baseman nor shortstop covered the bag, and the throw sailed between them and into centerfield.
Chavanne bunted and safely reached first to load the bases. Dotson drew a walk to bring in the fourth run and then Shipman brought in two more with a double to the fall.
Gibson walked, and a throwing error to first brought Shipman home for a 7-0 lead. Brown hit a sacrifice fly that brought home Gibson to complete the scoring.
Weekly said the coaches took the blame for Friday’s loss “for kind of messing with the lineup.”
Burchell and Brown started in the outfield Friday. Those grass spots were claimed Saturday by Lewis and Dotson, along with Melissa Davin.
“Karen and I decided last night – when we’re husband and wife, we have a lot of time to talk – that we need to be us,” Weekly said. “We can’t worry about being a home run team. We’ve got to be a team that runs the bases well, hits the gappers, hits the occasional home run and runs a pretty good speed game.
“That is what we went back to today.”
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