Tennessee (44-9) posted three runs in the first, more than enough for junior pitcher Ellen Renfroe to help the Lady Vols take a 5-0 win over South Carolina (32-23) in the quarterfinals of the 2013 SEC Tournament on Thursday night at John Cropp Stadium.
Tennessee took the lead in the first on an RBI double by Lauren Gibson, scoring Raven Chavanne after she started the contest with a single and stole second. Gibson scored after the throw to third on her steal got away. Kat Dotson drove one out to right to make it 3-0 in the first.
The advantage grew to 4-0 on Madison Shipman’s RBI single in the third, and Cheyenne Tarango’s sac fly in the fifth put the lead at 5-0 for the second-seeded Lady Vols.
"Tonight, we ran into a tough Tennessee team," said Gamecock head coach Beverly Smith. "They hit in the first inning early, and we never recovered from that. I’m really proud of my team, I’m proud of the way we fought to get into the tournament and certainly the way we fought when we got here.”
The Gamecocks never got going offensively, even with getting three leadoff runners on. No Gamecock made it past second. Hits came from seniors Samie Garcia and Kelley Dillon, junior Dana Hathorn and sophomore Kristen Struett. Junior Chelsea Hawkins also had a walk.
Renfroe (16-4) tossed a shutout for Tennessee, giving up four hits and a walk while striking out three. Gamecock redshirt senior Audrey Broyles (9-9) took the loss, allowing four earned runs on five hits in two-plus innings while fanning one. Redshirt sophomore Julie Sarratt came on and held Tennessee to a run on four hits in four innings of work. She struck out three and walked one.
The Lady Vols move onto face third-seeded Missouri in the semifinals Friday at 3:30 p.m.
South Carolina heads home to wait for the NCAA Softball Tournament Selection Committee’s decision on whether its season continues. The selection show airs live on Sunday at 10 p.m. on ESPNU.