Ivy Renfroe tosses two-hitter vs. Michigan

Ivy Renfroe tosses two-hitter vs. Michigan

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - In front of a hostile Maize & Blue-clad crowd of 2,116 on Thursday night at the Wilpon Softball Complex, No. 15 Tennessee (46-13) took a big step towards a return to the Women's College World Series with a 5-0 upset of No. 2 Michigan in the opener of a best-of-three NCAA Super Regional.

UT is now 7-2 all-time in four appearances in the NCAA Super Regionals and became the first team to win on Alumni Field this season as the Wolverines entered play tonight a perfect 17-0 at home in 2010. Michigan also had not lost at home since May of 2008.

The stories of this game for the Big Orange were definitely freshman pitcher Ivy Renfroe and junior center fielder Kelly Grieve.

Renfroe carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning before Michigan's Dorian Shaw singled just inside the third base line with one out. The Jackson, Tenn., native eventually settled for an incredible two-hit, complete-game shutout with eight Ks in improving to 29-4 on the season and stretched her NCAA Tournament consecutive scoreless inning streak to 20.1 frames.

Grieve came through in the clutch, singling twice during an impressive 2-for-3 effort while knocking in three two-out runs to guide the UT offense.

Freshman left fielder Raven Chavanne (1-for-3, run) and sophomore designated player Shelby Burchell (1-for-2) each tallied a base hit in the contest.

"This was a great pitcher's duel tonight," Lady Vol co-head coach Ralph Weekly said. "Karen (co-head coach Weekly) and I are so proud of our team. I told the kids outside that we won a game against a really good Michigan team tonight, and that's all. We still have potentially two left to play. We have to be ready to come out on fire tomorrow ready to go, because what eventually matters is who advances at the end of Friday.

"I thought both Ivy Renfroe and Jordan Taylor pitched extremely well tonight. Of course with a coach as good as 'Hutch' (Michigan Head Coach Carol Hutchins), she'll have her team ready to go (Friday). What a great college atmosphere. I told our kids to enjoy it because the crowd was amazing."

Both Michigan's Jordan Taylor and Renfroe took control of the contest from the circle during the first inning, working through one-two-three frames.

With one out in the bottom of the second, UM catcher Roya St. Clair became the initial base runner of the match-up for either team by coercing a walk off UT's 5-10 right hander. Renfroe rebounded immediately with an assist from her defense as freshman second baseman Lauren Gibson made a solid play to cut down the lead runner at second via a fielder's choice. Tennessee's pitcher then struck out designated player Nikki Nemitz swinging to leave her Wolverine teammate standing harmlessly at first.

After getting ahead of Taylor in the count, Burchell posted the first hit of the game for either squad by taking a change-up into center field for a single. That got a big scoring rally started as senior first baseman Erinn Webb reached on a sac bunt attempt back to the circle, placing a pair of Lady Vols on base with one out.

Andrews stepped into the box and hit a ball sharply to third baseman Maggie Viefhaus that rolled straight through the fielder's legs for a big error as freshman pinch runner Leah Taylor scored and Webb and Andrews ended up standing at third and second, respectively. After two quick outs, Grieve stepped up in yet another huge spot, ripping a pitch into right center for a huge two-RBI single and all of a sudden it was 3-0 Tennessee and the large home crowd was almost in stunned silence.

Renfroe granted a walk to shortstop Steph Kirkpatrick christening the bottom of the third, but continued her incredible early effort, striking out both center fielder Molly Bausher and left fielder Bree Evans before handling a short pop back to the circle from right fielder Angela Findlay for out number three.

The fireworks got started again for Tennessee with one out in the top of the fifth. Andrews managed a walk against Taylor and that got the Big Orange offense off and running again as the speed game came to the plate looking to wreak havoc. Chavanne followed with a single through the right side of the infield, placing two on base.

Following a Lady Vol K, Grieve delivered again on an RBI base knock to left field, advancing to second as the ball was bobbled for an error. With two UT runners in scoring position, Michigan's Taylor was called for an illegal pitch, forcing in a run to make the score 5-0.

From there it was simply left to watch Renfroe and see if she could do the unthinkable and fire a no-hitter against a dangerous Wolverine line-up.

UM managed a base runner in scoring position via an infield miscue by Tennessee leading off the top of the sixth, but couldn't get anything going as the Lady Vol hurler struck out two more members of the Maize & Blue.

St. Clair flied out to right field opening the bottom of the seventh to push it to 6.1 no-hit frames. Shaw stepped into the box and finally broke up the no-no with a single that snuck just inside the third base line. Second baseman Amanda Chidester delivered a swinging bunt out in front of the plate for a base knock and suddenly the home crowd had something to cheer about.

Renfroe rebounded quickly though forcing Nemitz to pop-up to sophomore Holly Baker in foul ground in left and got Kirkpatrick to bounce routinely to first, completing the two-hit shutout.

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