Lady Vols take two over Memphis

Tennessee swept Memphis in a doubleheader and improved its win streak to 10 games on a chilly Tuesday evening at Lee Softball Stadium.

The first game started under sunshine and warm temperatures and ended with a cold rain falling and the need to place the tarp on the infield as soon as the players cleared the area.

The second game was knotted at 2-2 when Shelby Burchell sent her second homer of the season over the leftfield wall in the fifth inning. Her first homer of the season also came in a tie game with rain threatening to erupt.

The 3-2 score held up and No. 8 Tennessee improved its overall record to 37-9. The Lady Vols won game one, 5-0, with Ivy Renfroe recording that victory and sister Ellen Renfroe taking the nightcap over Memphis (18-31).

Madison Shipman knocked in two runs in the first game – she leads the SEC with 52 RBIs – and scored once after stealing second and then third base.

Shipman singled to the outfield and then swiped second. She took off for third and the catcher threw to an uncovered base, allowing Shipman to scoot home in the fifth inning.

The sophomore shortstop came through in the sixth inning with a blast off the outfield wall that brought home Ashley Andrews and Raven Chavanne for a 5-0 lead.

Melissa Brown recorded two RBIs in the second game after Memphis had taken a 2-0 lead in the third inning. Brown got both runs back in Tennessee's half of the inning when she dropped the head of the bat on an off-speed pitch and dropped the ball in centerfield. With two outs, Chavanne and Kat Dotson easily scored.

Burchell put the Lady Vols on top in the fifth inning with the line drive over the wall and the final 3-2 score.

Tennessee had some strong individual plays such as Dotson's snare of a line drive tailing away from her in foul territory in right field and Andrews getting a throw to the wrong side of home plate, spinning quickly and tagging out the Memphis runner in game one.

The Lady Vols are next on the road for a three-game series at South Carolina beginning Friday.

The doubleheader against Memphis allowed Tennessee to step out of conference and see live pitching in between SEC series. Co-Head Coach Ralph Weekly will take the wins, but he wasn't particularly pleased with the overall performance.

The box score listed 873 fans, but it was a few determined dozen by the time the second game ended after temperatures plummeted and rain began to fall.

"It's very tough to play an in-state doubleheader after playing in front of a national TV audience and sold-out stadium and a top 20 team this weekend," Weekly said. "It's one of the challenges of our sport, and we didn't play the way we're capable of playing tonight.

"We got it done, but all phases of the game were sub-par. The pitching was OK. Plate discipline was not good. No question. We swung at a ton of balls over our head."

Tennessee has now won 74 consecutive games against in-state opponents with 66 of those recorded by Ralph and Karen Weekly. The last time the Lady Vols lost to an in-state team was March 22, 2000, against Middle Tennessee.

Ralph Weekly noted that positive streak and also saluted the penultimate out of the second game when Andrews fielded a ball bunted in front of the plate and fired to first to get the ultra-quick Morgan Mosby by a step.

"Nobody in the country makes that play that Andrews made," Weekly said. "She is a 2.6 speedster (time from home to first). That was a fantastic play."

Tennessee left 16 runners on base in the two games combined.

"We played really good on defense; we just struggled on offense," Weekly said. "Some of that can be credited to Memphis' pitching and the rest to Memphis' game plan.

"You've got to give them credit. Coming in here they had won seven in a row. They played well."


Melissa Brown

Madison Shipman

Shelby Burchell

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