Lady Volunteers ‘walk’ off as SEC titleist
Posted: Monday, May 16, 2011 3:48 pm
OXFORD, Miss. —Tennessee utilized three home runs — including a walk-off solo round-tripper by junior Shelby Burchell — and stellar relief pitching to post a 6-5 comeback win over Georgia in eight innings.
The triumph secured the program’s second SEC Tournament crown and its first since 2006.
The Lady Vol softball team (47-10) will host a NCAA Regional for the seventh consecutive year. according to Sunday’s announcement via ESPNU of the annual NCAA Tournament bracket.
The Big Orange has been chosen as the No. 14 national seed and will welcome in three squads to Lee Softball Stadium over May 20-22.
On Saturday, designated player Jessica Spigner registered the third two-home run game of her career, blasting a pair of two-run shots as part of her 2-for-3, four-RBI effort against the Bulldogs.
In a relief role in the circle, freshman pitcher Ellen Renfroe, who led Trinity Christian to the Class 1A state title last year, permitted just a single run on five hits with a walk and five strikeouts over 71⁄3 innings to get the victory and improve to 26-5 overall.
For their outstanding efforts during UT’s unbeaten run, Burchell, Chavanne and Spigner were each selected to the SEC All-Tournament Team, while Ellen Renfroe was tabbed as the event’s Most Valuable Player.
Things got off to a rough start against the power-hitting Georgia team in the top of the first as center fielder Taylor Schlopy granted the Bulldogs a quick 1-0 lead with a solo shot to deep center.
A walk issued to third baseman Alisa Goler and right fielder Brianna Hesson getting struck by an Ivy Renfroe offering came back to haunt with two retired as first baseman Kristyn Sandberg hammered a three-run homer to left and suddenly UGA had a 4-0 advantage.
After a single through the left side from designated player Brittney Hubbard, Ellen Renfroe was summoned into the contest in relief of her older sister.
With Ellen Renfroe keeping the Georgia offense from adding to its advantage, the Lady Vols used a long ballto cut into the deficit.
Burchell reached on an error at short with one down, setting the stage for Spigner’s team-leading 15th home run of the season.
The Santa Clarita, Calif., native’s two-run blast to left center cut the Georgia advantage to 4-2.
With time beginning to run short in regulation and Georgia up 5-3, Burchell got the crucial rally started by driving a 1-0 offering to center for a lead-off single in the sixth.
With Whitney Hammond on the base paths to run, her speed wasn’t needed as Spigner crushed a homer to center to bring UT even for the first time all night.
Ellen Renfroe permitted a one-out base knock in the top of the eighth, but retired the side without incident.
With a second chance to get a walk-off victory, the Lady Vols wouldn’t disappoint as Burchell crushed a 1-0 pitch from UGA reliever Owen to deep center to set off Big Orange jubilation in Oxford.