Lady Vols hold off Georgia, 7-5
Erinn Webb
Erinn Webb

Posted Jun 5, 2010


OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – With the largest single-session crowd of 8,694 in Women’s College World Series history watching on Friday night at the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium, No. 16/15 Tennessee improved to 49-13 overall and a perfect 2-0 at NCAA Division I softball’s premier event by racing past No. 9 Georgia (49-12), 7-5.

With the triumph the Big Orange joins UCLA as the only two unbeaten teams left in the WCWS and has earned Saturday off while the remaining squads face elimination. UT will next be in action on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET against an opponent still to be determined as teams battle Saturday through the loser's bracket. Sunday's game will be live on ESPN HD/ESPN3.com

The big blow of the evening was the second career grand slam from senior first baseman Erinn Webb as part of a 1-for-4, four-RBI effort.

“We have a highlight film from 2007, her freshman season, and she hit a ball out to beat Hawai’i at our place in our regional," Tennessee Co-Head Coach Ralph Weekly said. "She had a great swing. I have always believed in her swing. I don’t care if she’s hitting .210 or whatever (in the regular season). She’s just a clutch hitter and a kid that’s going to come through and get it done.

"We checked the figures earlier today to see who had success against Georgia and who has had success in the last 16 games. She’s hitting .390-something with four home runs. She hit a grand slam against Georgia (this year) at our place, too. I wouldn’t trade her for the world.”

The Hemet, Calif., native is now hitting an impressive .368 during NCAA Tournament action with two doubles, a triple, three HRs and eight RBIs.

“I’m seeing the ball really well right now," Webb said. "This is the postseason, and it’s my favorite time of the year. I’m having fun and staying relaxed and that’s helping out a lot right now.”

Freshman right fielder Kat Dotson (2-for-3, RBI, run) and rookie second baseman Lauren Gibson (2-for-4, run) each posted two of Tennessee’s eight total hits in the matchup, while freshman left fielder Raven Chavanne tallied her team-best fifth triple of the year in delivering a 1-for-4, run scored performance.

In picking up her 31st victory of the campaign, freshman starter Ivy Renfroe kept Georgia in relative check until a late outburst in the bottom of the seventh inning.

“I just thought about being confident and not doubting my defense or myself," Renfroe said about Georgia hitting a three-run homer in the seventh inning. "It was about just relaxing and going after them.”

The Jackson, Tenn., native allowed five runs on 10 hits, but recorded a career-high-tying 10 strikeouts in tossing her 14th complete game.

“I’m just hitting my spots and knowing where to put the ball," Renfroe said. "I’ve definitely grown up. Facing more and more hitters has helped.”

Since the NCAA Tourney began, Renfroe is 5-0 with a 1.21 ERA, three complete-game shutouts and 42 Ks in 34.2 innings of work, including wins at No. 2 Michigan and vs. No. 3 Arizona and No. 9 Georgia.

“It was a typical Sunday game in the SEC,” Weekly said. “It’s almost like that every day, and I’m not belittling. We’re both very fortunate to be here at the Women’s College World Series. This is the fifth time we’ve played Georgia, and the first time was our opening SEC game (in March).

"We had a 5-1 lead going into the sixth inning, and they almost came back to beat us. Our pitchers were really young at that time, and they’ve improved quite a bit. Georgia’s a great team, great offensive team. They just keep coming at you. They’re in attack mode the whole time.

"I couldn’t be more proud of our kids. They refuse to lose.”

After Tennessee went down in order in the top half, Georgia tallied the contest’s initial base runner in the bottom of the first as left fielder Megan Wiggins drew a one-out walk off Renfroe.

A wild pitch advanced her into scoring position where she was joined on the base paths via free pass by third baseman Alisa Goler. UT’s 5-10 right hander responded to the threat by getting catcher Kristyn Sandberg to pop up in foul ground outside of first and then struck out designated player Ashley Razey on a rise ball to leave the Bulldog duo stranded.

Sophomore third baseman Jessica Spigner christened the top of the second by battling to draw a lead-off walk off Georgia starter Sarah McCloud. With Webb at the dish, the UGA hurler uncorked consecutive wild pitches allowing Spigner to move all the way to third with still no one retired.

Georgia coach Lu Harris-Champer strode out of the dugout and made a pitching change, bringing in Erin Arevalo in relief. She immediately retired Webb on a chopper back to the circle for the first out. She wasn’t so fortunate on her next offering, however, as a wild toss in the dirt eluded Sandberg and rolled to the backstop as Spigner scored to make it 1-0, UT.

That set a tone as Gibson and senior catcher Tiffany Huff followed with consecutive singles and then sophomore designated player Shelby Burchell was hit by a pitch to load the bases with one out. The fourth wild pitch of the frame, this one on a 1-2 count, permitted Gibson to cross from 60 feet away as the lead grew to two runs.

A Lady Vol strikeout finally ended things, but not before the Big Orange scored two runs on a pair of hits with a walk, a hit batter and a staggering four Georgia wild pitches.

Trailing 2-0 on the scoreboard, UGA got a lead-off single from first baseman Brianna Hesson to open the bottom of the second. Right fielder Brittney Hubbard unleashed the old “swinging bunt” for a base hit, placing a pair of Bulldogs aboard with no one retired.

Renfroe got a big strike three looking on shortstop Laura Trout, marking the hurler’s third K of the contest. Ashley Pauly bounced out to second base as Gibson corralled the ball, looked to second but made the only play available, nailing the runner at first.

Renfroe tossed a ball low that eluded Huff behind the plate and rolled toward the backstop. The UT catcher tracked down the ball, raced back to the plate and dove to tag out pinch runner Sara Sikes on an amazing hustle play for a huge inning-ending out.

The Lady Vol speed game got the offense going in the top of the third as Dotson was hit by a pitch to open the frame. Then, junior center fielder Kelly Grieve dropped a perfect bunt single back to the circle, putting a pair of Tennessee speedsters on the base paths with none out. That brought about yet another pitching change for Georgia as Alison Owen entered the circle in relief of Arevalo.

She made Spigner the Big Orange’s third hit batter victim of the matchup, loading the bases for Webb. The Hemet, Calif., native continued her incredible NCAA Tournament production, blasting the first pitch she received from Owen just over the wall in right center to mark her second grand slam of the season (both occurred versus Georgia as she hammered one versus the Bulldogs back on March 21st) and her career as Tennessee roared to a commanding 6-0 advantage.

The grand slam was only the sixth all-time in WCWS history.

With Renfroe rolling from the circle, the Orange & White added to their advantage in the top of the fourth. Chavanne christened the frame with a triple into the right center field gap and Dotson followed with a slap single to shallow left to plate the runner as UT improved its advantage to 7-0.

With two outs in the inning, Webb nearly hit her second HR of the contest as her drive to deep center was caught at the top of the wall by UGA’s Taylor Schlopy.

Razey broke a string of six consecutive hitters retired by Renfroe with a one-out single just inside the left field line in the bottom of the fourth. Sophomore shortstop Ashley Andrews and Gibson combined on a fielder’s choice to make pinch runner Macie Couey the second out of the frame.

Hubbard battled to draw a walk and then shortstop Laura Trout was hit by a pitch, as Georgia loaded the bases with Pauly stepping to the dish. She bounced to deep short, forcing Andrews to attempt a difficult backhand play. The Tumwater, Wash., native kept the ball on the infield, but it went for a RBI single as Georgia cut its deficit to 7-1.

UGA All-American Schlopy stepped in with a chance to really get the Bulldogs right back in the game, but Renfroe struck her out for the second time in the contest to leave three stranded and maintain Tennessee’s commanding six-run lead through four.

A lead-off single from Wiggins ended up costing the Big Orange in the bottom of the fifth. After two consecutive Renfroe strikeouts looking, Razey lifted a fly ball into short right that Gibson nearly caught on the run. The ball just tipped off her glove as Wiggins raced around to make it 7-2. UT’s pitcher rebounded to punch out first baseman Brianna Hesson, striking out the side and running her K total to a NCAA career-best nine through five innings of work.

Each squad managed a base hit during the sixth inning, but could get nothing strung together to add anything on the scoreboard.

Down to Georgia’s final chance in the bottom of the seventh, Wiggins got a late rally started by drawing a lead-off walk. Third baseman Alisa Goler followed with a single into right field and suddenly the Bulldogs had runners at the corners with no one out. Clean-up hitter Sandberg popped up harmlessly to Webb at first for the initial out.

Razey stepped into the batter’s box and drove a three-run HR over the wall down the right field line to make it 7-5.

“Obviously we’re disappointed that we lost, but I think that we did have some innings where we had some good things happen," Harris-Champer said. "I thought that (Megan) Wiggins continued to be amazing at the plate, just an incredible spark for the team on the field and at the plate and in the dugout and being a great leader. I thought that (Ashley) Razey had some clutch hits and that (Ashley) Pauly again had a big night.”

Hesson followed with a base knock back through the middle to bring the potential tying run to the plate as Big Orange hearts skipped a beat. Facing a huge situation, Renfroe managed a big strikeout of Hubbard to equal her career high of 10 Ks set back at Tennessee Tech on April 20th.

Trout came to the plate as the last opportunity to extend the matchup and bounced wide to Spigner’s left at third base. The Santa Clarita, Calif., native managed a stunning snag of the ball as it threatened to go by, rose quickly and tossed over to first to wrap up the 7-5 victory over Georgia.

When Renfroe got in trouble late in the game, sophomore pitcher Cat Hosfield headed to the bullpen, but Weekly said he intended to end the game with Renfroe in the circle.

"Karen (Weekly) and I talked about it," Ralph Weekly said. "We thought the one thing that might get to Georgia is speed, and Ivy was over-powering at least some of their batters. It’s very tough to make a change like that to bring someone in who hasn’t pitched in the game.

"The other thing is that it always gives the other team momentum when you change pitchers. We decided we were going to live and die with Ivy.”

Weekly was asked if he intended to have Renfroe shoulder the pitching load the rest of the way.

“I hate to say that because the one thing you haven’t seen yet is Cat," Weekly said. "Ivy brings a lot of things to the team, but Cat does as well. I think you’re going to see that before this tournament is over.

"Ivy is certainly a huge part of this team. But, I think with our kids, if you look at it, the stars are different every game. When I go out and speak, I tell people that we’re playing ‘fastpitch.’ It’s not ‘fastrun’ or ‘fastthrow’ or ‘fasthit.’ The team with the best pitcher usually wins. So, the pitcher is really important, and Ivy is a huge part of this team.”

Georgia's coach said the difference in Tennessee from earlier this season to June is Renfroe.

“To me it’s Renfroe," Harris-Champer said. "I think she’s really maturing and you have to tip your hat and say it’s nice to see a kid that young coming out and hitting her location and doing a good job with the ball.

"And from what I hear she’s a fantastic young person, so that even makes it better.”

As a result of being 2-0 at the WCWS, Tennessee has earned Saturday off. The Lady Vols will return to action on Sunday, June 6, at 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN HD/ESPN3.com with a chance to earn a berth in the best-of-three WCWS Championship Series for the second time in program history.

GAME NOTES

Tennessee (49-13) improved to 12-6 in Women’s College World Series games with a 7-5 victory over Georgia (49-12). The Lady Volunteers are now 39-16 all-time in the NCAA tournament.

Georgia dropped to 4-3 all-time in the WCWS and to 30-17 all-time in the NCAA tournament.

Four of the five contests between the two teams this season have been decided by two runs or less.

Tennessee moved to 41-3 this year when leading after four innings and to 18-0 when hitting a home run.

Tennessee’s Jessica Spigner and Lauren Gibson scored the first two runs of the contest in the second inning on wild pitches by Georgia’s Erin Arevalo.

Erinn Webb hit her second career grand slam in the third inning to give the Lady Vols a 6-0 advantage over the Bulldogs. Both of Webb’s grand slams have come this year against Georgia. Tonight’s was the sixth grand slam in WCWS history. Four of the other five occurred last year.

Webb is 2-for-6 at the plate in two 2010 WCWS games with two runs and six RBI. The senior has three home runs in this year’s NCAA tournament.

The Lady Vols upped their home run total to 51 on the year, one shy of the school single-season mark set in 1996.

Through two games at the 2010 WCWS, Tennessee has scored 16 runs. The Lady Vols’ previous WCWS high for runs scored was 10 (in five contests) in 2005.

Tennessee freshman Ivy Renfroe (31-4) picked up the win and registered a season-high 10 strikeouts.

Georgia’s Sarah McCloud (13-2) started the contest in the circle for the Bulldogs and was relieved after one inning of work (faced one batter in the second inning). The junior walked one and threw two wild pitches in giving up one run.

The Lady Bulldogs pitching staff threw a total of four wild pitches in the contest, all in the second inning. The four wild pitches represent the second most thrown by a team in a WCWS game (UCLA had five against Arizona in 1991).

Megan Wiggins extended her hitting streak to 22 games, a Georgia single-season record. The junior has also reached base in 32 straight contests.

Georgia’s Ashley Pauly is 5-for-6 at the plate with a run and an RBI during two games of the WCWS.

Georgia has scored five or more runs in its last seven contests, posting a 6-1 record during that span.

Today’s Session 3 featuring Hawai’i vs. UCLA and Georgia vs. Tennessee set a WCWS single-session attendance record with 8,694 spectators.

The visiting team has won all six games of this year’s WCWS.



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