The Lady Vols claimed another win over Auburn – and the 14th victory in a row – and, at least for now, are in first place in the SEC. Go inside for a free story and video coverage.
Ralph Weekly found plenty he wanted to improve after Saturday’s 6-1 win from clutch hitting to cutting down on walks, but Tennessee (37-6, 11-3) is now in first place in the league after Kentucky beat Florida and Arkansas defeated Alabama.
“I am happy with the win,” Weekly said. “I am proud of our players. No question. They just played a really good game. And Auburn, they beat Alabama at Alabama and Florida at Florida, so they are a good ball club.
“But I think we can play better and when I stop thinking we can play better, that’s when we are going to start going downhill.”
Auburn (27-17, 6-11), once again, made a game of it, but the Lady Vols got a bullet throw home from center fielder Tory Lewis to catcher Hannah Akamine to preserve a 2-1 lead in the top of the fourth inning.
Auburn’s staff thought Akamine was blocking the plate – she had one foot in front and one to the side and moved back to receive the throw before applying the tag – and Tigers head coach Tina Deese spent the majority of the time between innings arguing with home plate umpire Danny Bowman to no avail amid catcalls from the stands.
Tennessee added two runs in the bottom half and then two more in the fifth – RBIs in the game came from Kat Dotson, Lauren Gibson, Madison Shipman, Cheyanne Tarango, Melissa Davin and Akamine – to claim the second win over Auburn with the third game slated for Sunday at 1:30 p.m. at Lee Softball Stadium.
Ivy Renfroe went the distance after an inning of relief Friday and is now 15-3 on the season. She allowed just four hits, struck out five – the fifth ended the game – and walked three.
The game began with four seniors honored – Renfroe, Dotson, Gibson and Melissa Brown – and ended with the win and Weekly seeking improvements.
“If you’re going to be a contender and a top five team in the country, you’ve got to do the little things right,” Weekly said. “Everybody does the big things but it’s the little things that make the difference.
“I’ve always been a person that’s never been satisfied and if we’ve got some loose ends, I like to tie them up.”
Key defensive inning for Tennessee: The fourth when Auburn scored on a rare fielding error by Lauren Gibson – she said after the game she needed to charge the ball faster – and was poised to tie the game with two outs when Tory Lewis gunned down Branndi Melero at home. Melero had reached on the error and moved into scoring position on a ground-out. Caitlin Schultze singled to Lewis but didn’t get the RBI.
Key offensive inning for Tennessee: Also the fourth when the Lady Vols seized momentum with a two-out hit by Melissa Davin. The inning had started well when Madison Shipman doubled and then stole third with no outs.
But Cheyanne Tarango and Melissa Brown had back-to-back infield popups and Tennessee was close to squandering a prime scoring opportunity. Davin laced a 2-1 pitch to left field to bring in Shipman and then Hannah Akamine doubled off the wall to bring home Davin, who celebrated between second and third – she thought the ball cleared the wall – and then accelerated quickly to safely reach the plate.
GAME HIGHLIGHTS FROM UTSPORTSTV
INSIDE TENNESSEE VIDEO COVERAGE