Tennessee is 5-0 after an eruption of offense in the state of Utah and will take its scorching bats and four-pitcher rotation to the state of Florida next.
The Lady Vols are participating in the USF 4 Team Tournament in Tampa with North Carolina State, Coastal Carolina and USF, which is hosting the event.
The three-day event is played in tourney format with Tennessee facing N.C. State and Coastal Carolina this Friday and USF on Saturday. A semifinal will then be held Saturday and a final game Sunday.
Ralph Weekly had to wear gloves while coaching third base in Utah, and senior Ivy Renfroe said pitchers can struggle to get a proper grip in cold weather so the Sunshine State will be a welcome sight for Tennessee.
The cold weather had no ill effect on the outcomes, as Ellen Renfroe threw a no-hitter, and the Lady Vols left Utah with a perfect slate and a team batting average of .424. The five opponents hit .137, and the Lady Vols outscored them by a total of 53 runs to eight.
Sophomore catcher Hannah Akamine led the team at .778. Sophomore designated player Cheyanne Tarango, who also can take the ball in the circle, hit two homers and .636 overall. Freshman Rainey Gaffin was 4-6 with three RBI for a .667 average, and Weekly said he would seek to get the outfielder more at-bats this weekend.
Tarango, Raven Chavanne and Lauren Gibson led the team with seven runs scored each. Akamine crossed the plate six times. Melissa Davin scored five times, and Madison Shipman, four.
After practice and media interviews, the Lady Vol players departed as a group to hand-deliver tickets to season ticket holders at local residences. Karen Weekly said they wanted to thank season ticket holders with a personal gesture for their financial investment in the team.
The Lady Vols won’t be home long when they return from Florida. Next on the schedule is the Mary Nutter Cathedral Classic in Universal City, Calif., from Feb. 21-23, a six-team event.
The home opener is Feb. 26 against Lipscomb at 5 p.m. at Lee Softball Stadium.
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