Lady Vols blank NC State in NCAA regional
By Will Estep | (email@example.com)
KNOXVILLE — For two days the Tennessee pitching at the Knoxville Regional held the opposition in check. It was even better Sunday as Ivy Renfroe pitched a one-hit shutout and No. 7 Tennessee came up with big hits aplenty in a 7-0 win over North Carolina State to move the Lady Vols on to the NCAA Super Regionals for the sixth time in program history.
Sisters Ivy and Ellen Renfroe each pitched a shutout in Tennessee’s first two games of the NCAA Tournament. Ivy saved the best performance for Sunday as she allowed just one hit and struck out five batters in seven innings.
“I think in that third game up at Missouri, we had a tough pitching game,” Tennessee co-head coach Ralph Weekly said. “I think they felt they had to make a statement and they came out and made it.”
In Saturday’s 11-inning contest with the Lady Wolfpack, Tennessee (47-10) managed to go 10 innings without scoring a run. The Lady Vols eventually won the game in the 11th to advance to Sunday’s finals. After N.C. State won a game that went through Saturday night and into Sunday morning before reconvening at 11;30 a.m. to reach a decision for who would face UT from the losers bracket, the Lady Vols looked to take advantage as soon as the rain cleared enough for the regional finals to begin.
Facing N.C. State (35-20-1) pitcher Emily Weiman (L, 33-18) again, Tennessee started off with an RBI single in the first from Kat Dotson that scored Raven Chavanne. Madison Shipman pushed the Tennessee lead to two.
Shipman followed up in the second by belting a two-run homer to right for a comfortable 4-0 cushion.
“Our game plan today was to make (Weiman) throw as many pitches as she could in the first and second inning and she threw 60,” Weekly said. “Our kids bought into the game plan.”
Weiman gave up seven runs and eight hits in 3.2 innings. She only allowed one run in 11 innings against Tennessee on Saturday.
Shipman had an RBI double in the top of the fourth that scored Tory Lewis and gave Tennessee a 5-0 lead. The junior shortstop later scored in the inning to put Tennessee up 7-0 on a two-run single from Cheyanne Tarango. Shipman finished 3-for-4 with three runs scored and three RBI. Tennessee’s top three hitters in the lineup — Chavanne, Lauren Gibson and Shipman — combined for six hits and six runs.
“We always expect a lot of things out of our whole lineup,” Shipman said. “We knew the top of our lineup didn’t really do the greatest that it could (Saturday), so we just came out here ready to attack today.”
N.C. State had to wake up and finish a game from Saturday night just to earn a spot in the regional final against Tennessee. The Lady Wolfpack knocked off James Madison 6-4 to earn that spot and then had to wait over four hours to play again because of rain and lightning delays. NC State then had to face Renfroe (W, 19-4), who allowed her only hit in the third. The senior pitcher got out of that and then pitched out of the seventh after walking two batters.
“That is a real good team,” NC State coach Shawn Rychcik said. “I would expect them to be in Oklahoma City here in a couple of weeks.”
Tennessee will host No. 10 Alabama in the Super Regional for rights to advance to the Women’s College World Series.