LEXINGTON, Ky. – The No. 5-ranked Tennessee softball team rode a strong pitching performance by junior Ellen Renfroe, who allowed only two hits over seven innings, while the UT offense posted three runs in both the third and seventh innings to give the Lady Volunteers a 6-0 non-conference victory over No. 20 Kentucky on Friday night at the UK Softball Complex in Lexington, Ky.
The game, which was scheduled after both teams missed midweek non-conference games due to inclement weather, does not count towards Southeastern Conference team standings. Both teams have a conference bye the rest of the weekend.
Kentucky (24-9) started true freshman pitcher Kelsey Nunley in the circle. The rookie hurler went all seven innings, allowing six runs – five earned – on five hits with three strikeouts. Nunley received the loss in the game, moving her overall record to 15-4. Fellow true freshman Maisie Steed was UK’s offense in the game, going 2-for-3 with two singles.
Renfroe was strong in the circle for Tennessee (29-6), throwing the complete-game shutout with four strikeouts and two hits. Senior outfielder Kat Dotson went 1-for-3 at the dish with three RBI for UT, hammering her fourth home run of the year in the seventh inning. Senior infielder Lauren Gibson had the other two RBI in the game, lacing a two-RBI single in the third inning to finish the game 1-for-4. Junior Melissa Davin went 2-for-3 in the game with a run scored.
Kentucky will be back in action again Wednesday, April 3 when it travels to in-state foe Louisville for a non-conference showdown. The Cardinals are currently ranked 11th nationally in both major softball polls. The game is scheduled for a 6 p.m. ET first pitch. Live stats will be available on UKathletics.com.
The Lady Vols took the lead in the third inning plating three runs on two hits. The inning started with a single to leftfield by Davin, who advanced to second on the sacrifice bunt by Hannah Akamine. After Nunley got Tory Lewis to strikeout looking, the UK pitcher walked the next two batters to load the bases for Gibson, who singled through the right side of the infield to drive in two runs. With runners at the corners and two outs, Tennessee attempted a double steal, allowing Raven Chavanne to score and give the Lady Vols a 3-0 lead.
UT extended its lead to 6-0 in the top of the seventh inning on the homer by Dotson. After a walk and an error but runners on second and third with no outs, Dotson lined a homer just over the wall down the leftfield line.
Tennessee leads the all-time series against Kentucky 35-12, including a 15-7 record against UK in Lexington. The Wildcats are 5-9 against UT under sixth-year head coach Rachel Lawson. The two teams have met every year since UK started a program in 1997 except 2002.
Kentucky will play host to the SEC Tournament this season for the first time in school history. The event, which is considered one of the most prestigious softball tournaments in the nation, will be May 8-11 in Lexington. The championship game will be featured on ESPN2, while all other games will be shown on ESPNU.