A no-hitter heading into the final inning of game one set the tone, and a line out with the bases loaded to end game two sent the Tennessee softball team to the Women’s College World Series.
The No. 15-seeded Lady Volunteers (47-13) upset No. 2-seeded Michigan (49-8) on the Wolverines; home field in Ann Arbor, Mich., winning the first two games of the best-of-three Super Regional series on May 27 and May 28. The victories send the Lady Vols to the WCWS for the fourth time in six seasons and snapped the 36-game home winning streak, dating back to last season, the Wolverines sported entering the series.
Tennessee co-head coach Ralph Weekly was pleased with his and fellow co-head coach Karen Weekly’s team’s play but was also complimentary of the Big Ten Champions.
“Things just went right out there for us these last two days,” Weekly said following the game two victory. “… I am so proud of our kids for their effort in this incredible atmosphere. You have to give a ton of credit to Michigan. They are a great team.”
In game one, the Lady Vols jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the third inning thanks to a Michigan fielding error and a clutch two-out, two-RBI single by center fielder Kelly Grieve.
The Lady Vols added another pair of runs in the top of the fifth inning as Grieve pushed another run home with an RBI single and later an illegal pitch plated the final Tennessee run on the night.
That was all the Lady Vols needed as freshman pitcher Ivy Renfroe threw a complete game two-hitter, with both hits coming in the seventh inning.
Game two saw Tennessee again jump out to an early lead.
Second baseman Lauren Gibson was hit by a pitch in the bottom of the first inning to bring home left fielder Raven Chavanne. Back-to-back solo home runs by Nicole Kajitani and Erinn Webb extended the Lady Vols’ lead to 3-0 in the bottom of the second inning.
Webb added another solo home run in the bottom of the fourth inning to provide sophomore pitcher Cat Hosfield a four-run cushion.
The Wolverines got on the board with a two-out, two-run home run in the top of the fifth inning, prompting Tennessee to bring in Renfroe to try and close out the series.
A solo home run by Michigan in the top of the sixth inning ended Renfroe’s 21-inning scoreless streak in the NCAA Tournament and made it a one-run game.
The Wolverines would load the bases in the top of the seventh with only one out, but Renfroe would record a strikeout followed by the line out to shortstop Ashley Andrews to end the Michigan rally and the series.
The upset of Michigan surprised many around the country, but not a Lady Vols team that has gotten better as the season has progressed and seems to be peaking at the right time.
“We’ve been counted out from the beginning,” Grieve said. “We didn’t start (the season) off very strong, but we went back to work in Knoxville. The big key to our team is our freshmen and without them, we wouldn’t be (in the WCWS) right now.”
“Its great to get here. That’s why I came to Tennessee because everybody wants to play on a stage like this.”