April 12, 2013
Knoxville, Tenn. - Auburn softball was unable to cap a late-inning rally as the Tigers left the bases loaded in the seventh in a 5-3 loss to No. 5 Tennessee Friday night in the series opener.
Auburn dropped to 25-18 overall and 6-10 in the Southeastern Conference. Tennessee improved to 36-6 overall and 10-3 in the SEC. The Tigers and Lady Vols play at 10:30 a.m. Saturday on CSS.
"We had our chances in the sixth and seventh and just couldn't get the last two runs across," Auburn head coach Tina Deese said. "They did a good job of keeping us from getting anything going early, but we fought back and gave ourselves a chance. Tomorrow is going to get here early and we have to regroup and get ourselves prepared to play."
Lexi Davis started and took the loss to fall to 7-7. Davis allowed five runs, two earned, on nine hits with six walks and two strikeouts in six innings of work.
Ellen Renfroe improved to 12-1 with the win, going six innings and allowing three runs, all earned, on five hits with two walks and eight strikeouts. Ivy Renfroe earned her first save. Ivy entered with one on and no outs in the seventh and allowed just one walk while striking out two.
The Lady Vols took advantage of an illegal pitch to plate the first run in the bottom of the first inning. Kat Dotson drew a one-out walk and moved into scoring position after stealing second base. A ground out moved Dotson to third with two outs. On a 3-2 pitch, Madison Shipman took an illegal pitch for ball four which also brought Dotson home for a 1-0 Tennessee lead.
Raven Chavanne gave the Lady Vols a 2-0 lead with a two-out, RBI single in the bottom of the second. Rainey Gaffin drew a leadoff walk and took second on a sacrifice bunt. After a ground out moved Gaffin to third, Chavanne followed with a bloop single behind shortstop to bring Gaffin home.
The Tigers put the leadoff batter on in the top of third when Kristyn Richards drew a walk on four pitches. Richards, however, would be doubled-off on a lineout to shortstop by Tiffany Howard. Although Morgan Estell followed with a double to left, the Tigers were unable to get her home as Renfroe forced Branndi Melero to ground out to end the inning.
The Lady Vols broke the game open in the bottom of the third inning. Dotson took advantage of an illegal pitch, on an apparent ground out, to get another swing. On the extra swing, Dotson hit a pop up to short that Emily Carosone failed to catch when third baseman Jade Rhodes collided into her. Lauren Gibson followed with a double to center to score Dotson for a 3-0 lead. With two outs, Melissa Brown singled home Madison Shipman (single) to push the Lady Vols' lead to 4-0. Gaffin followed with a single that fell in behind first base to score Brown, who took second on the relay throw previously, giving Tennessee a 5-0 lead.
Renfroe retired eight straight batters from the third inning to the sixth, when the Tigers got on the scoreboard. Estell broke the string with a one-out single to right-center in the top of the sixth. With two outs, Carosone hit a slow roller past Renfroe and beat the throw for an infield single.
First baseman Cheyanne Tarango fielded the throw and then threw wildly to third as Estell attempted to advance. Estell, running all the way, scored on the play to make it a 5-1 game. On a 3-2 pitch, Brooke Lathan crushed a two-run home run over the wall in center to cut the deficit to 5-3. It was Lathan's fifth home run of the season. Renfroe, however, would fan McKenzie Kilpatrick to end the Auburn rally.
In the top of the seventh, Caitlin Schultze led off with a single to center to bring the tying run to the plate. Jordan Rocker was put in to run for Schultze, while the single chased Ellen Renfroe from the game for her sister Ivy. Ivy Renfroe picked up the first out on a swinging strikeout of Rhodes.
Pinch-hitter Caitlin Jordan followed with a ground ball to Chavanne at third base who fielded cleanly but chose to throw to second for the force out. The throw was wild, for an error, allowing Rocker to reach second safely.
After Maris Medina was put in to run for Jordan, Tiffany Howard moved the runners up to third and second with a ground out for the second out of the inning. Estell, who had doubled and singled previously, was intentionally walked to load the bases. Ivy then ended the game on a called strike out of Melero.