The No. 1 Lady Vols softball team was busy this weekend as they kicked off the 2014 season by sweeping their four game slate in the Eagle Round Robin in Statesboro Ga.
Fueled by a perfect hitting day from freshman second baseman Megan Geer and a one-hitter from starting pitcher Ellen Renfroe, UT forced a run rule, 8-0, victory in its season opener against the Northern Colorado Bears on Friday.
Sophomore Lexi Overstreet and Geer led the team offensively. Overstreet went 2-for-3 with three RBIs. In Geer's first collegiate game, she went 4-for-4 with two RBIs, including the game-winning RBI that ended the game in the fifth.
"Any win is a good, especially when it's the first win of the season," co-head coach Ralph Weekly said in a UT release following Friday's victory. "We've got a long way to go as a team and we know it, but we were really pleased with the effort and the energy and the way they came out today and just played hard. It was just one of 60 games, so we'll go look at it on film and try and get a little better.
On Saturday, the Bears had a chance to exact their revenge, but they fared no better as Tennessee took home yet another victory, 8-3.
Sophomore Erin Gabriel took the mound for the Lady Vols and pitched a solid 4.1 innings, giving up two earned runs while striking out four.
Gabriel's effort on the hill would be overshadowed, however, by the girl who would toe the rubber in relief.
Sophomore Rainey Gaffin, who started the game in center field, came in and delivered 2.2 innings while not allowing a run and striking out seven en route to her first career win.
"We really didn't play a clean game," co-head coach Karen Weekly said, "but what I liked was when we got our back to the wall and they tied it up, we came back and put runs on the board right away and I think you saw that this team is going to fight no matter what and I really like the way they responded."
In their second game on Saturday, the Lady Vols had to scratch and claw to maintain their perfect weekend but their ace, Renfroe, was up to the challenge, throwing a two-hit shutout as Tennessee beat Georgia Southern, 1-0.
"That's Ellen," Karen Weekly said. "You give her one run and you can pretty much plan on Ellen making it stand up. That's a really good team in Georgia Southern with a very strong pitcher that is going to take them very far."
The lone UT run came when left fielder Melissa Davin homered in the second inning.
In Sunday's matchup against Oakland, freshman Taylor Koenig and senior Madison Shipman combined for seven RBIs, and Lexi Overstreet hit a home run as Tennessee finished its season-opening weekend with a 14-3 victory over the Golden Grizzlies.
Junior Cheyanne Tarango picked up her first win of the year, going 5.1 innings with three strikeouts and two earned runs allowed.
"We did go 4-0," Ralph Weekly said at the end of the weekend. "I thought at times we played well at times, and we played like a team that is starting four freshman the other times. I know we've got a lot to fix. I'm pleased with the kids and that's what these games are all about."