OKLAHOMA CITY – Using three-run first and a four-run sixth, the University of Tennessee softball team handed Florida its worst loss of the year in a 9-2 win in Game 2 of the Women’s College World Series on Thursday.
Tennessee (50-10) moves on to face Washington, which took a 4-3 win over Nebraska in Game 1 on Thursday. The teams will square off on Friday at 6 p.m. CT/7 p.m. ET on ESPN.
The Lady Vol seniors helped Tennessee to its eighth 50-win season as Melissa Brown, Raven Chavanne, Kat Dotson and Lauren Gibson combined for six hits, seven RBIs and four runs scored. Fellow senior Whitney Hammond scored a pinch run while Dotson was just a home run shy of the cycle.
UT handed Florida its worst loss of the season as the Gators (57-8) had not lost by more than two runs this year and their seven previous losses were by a combined nine runs. Today’s game marks Florida’s worst loss since losing 10-1 to the eventual national champion Alabama in the SEC Tournament last season on May 12, 2012.
The nine runs tallied by the Lady Vols against Florida tie the most Tennessee has registered at any Women’s College World Series the last being a 9-0 win over Arizona on June 3, 2010.
Ellen Renfroe (18-4) was dominant in the circle allowing just four hits and two earned runs while sitting down nine Gators by way of the K.
Florida’s starter Hannah Rogers (33-6) was chased from the game after just 24 pitches, nine for strikes. She took the loss after tossing one third of an inning with three runs attributed to her. Lauren Haeger tossed six and a third innings in relief giving up 10 hits and six runs, four earned.
The Lady Vols started out on fire, jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first. Kat Dotson and Lauren Gibson drew back-to-back one-out walks and Madison Shipman singled to left field to load the bases. Cheyanne Tarango drew a walk on six pitches to plate Dotson and give UT the 1-0 lead. After Haeger replaced Rogers in the circle, Melissa Brown clubbed a two-RBI double to right center. Rainey Gaffin walked on another full count in the next at-bat, but Haeger induced a strikeout and a pop up to leave the bases loaded and end the Lady Vols’ surge.
Florida got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the fifth. With one on and one out, Kelsey Stewart hit an RBI triple through the left side to give the Gators their first run of the game. After Merritt grounded out to third, Stephanie Tofft connected for an RBI single to center field to score Stewart and bring UF to within 3-2. Haeger was hit by a pitch on her hands and Horton walked on five pitches to load the bases. Ellen Renfroe escaped the jam when Schwarz grounded into a fielder’s choice. Raven Chavanne handled the ball at third and stomped on the base for the force out.
The Lady Vols responded in a big way with four more runs in the top of the sixth. Akamine led off the inning with a leadoff single down the left field line. Whitney Hammond pinch ran for her and advanced to third when Tory Lewis reached on a throwing error at third base on a sacrifice bunt. Chavanne reached on a fielding error by the second baseman up the middle, scoring Hammond on the play. After Chavanne stole second base, Dotson ripped a two-RBI double down the right field line to push UT’s lead to 6-2. Gibson stepped in next and ripped a two-RBI double down the left field line to plate Dotson. Haeger got out of the inning with three strikeouts.
Tennessee sealed the deal adding two more runs on in the top of the seventh as Akamine reached on a single to right center advancing to third on a Lewis double down the leftfield line. Akamine crossed the plate on a wild pitch while Lewis came across on a triple to center by Dotson to ice the victory.