April 22, 2012
by Koby Padgett
COLUMBIA, S.C. - On a Sunday afternoon where Gamecock senior third baseman Evan Childs tied the South Carolina single-season home run mark, the Gamecocks (23-26, 3-19 SEC) could not overcome No. 8/7 Tennessee (40-9, 19-6 SEC), as the Lady Vols captured the 6-3 win at Beckham Field.
Childs came up in the sixth after sophomore Chelsea Hawkins doubled to start the inning and drove the 2-1 offering over the wall in center to bring South Carolina within striking distance. Childs tied with McKenna Hughes with the shot, her 11th home run of the year, a mark Hughes set in 2007. The Gamecocks got another runner in the sixth after an out, but Tennessee brought in Ivy Renfroe to shut the door, as she got a strikeout and a groundout to end the threat.
Tennessee took the initial 2-0 lead in the second, as Ashley Andrews put one back through the middle with one down to score Shelby Burchell and Melissa Davin from third and second, respectively.
After a 44-minute rain delay, the Gamecocks put together a threat in the bottom of the second, getting a one-out single from Hawkins ahead of a seven-pitch walk to Childs, who fought back from a 1-2 count to draw the free base. Lady Vol starter Ellen Renfroe got a strikeout and a grounder to end that threat.
Tennessee threatened to blow the game open in the third, but great defensive plays by South Carolina stopped it from happening. Lauren Gibson posted a one-out double off the left-field wall. Burchell sent one right back to Gamecock redshirt junior pitcher Audrey Broyles, who caught Gibson off second, ran at her and even deked her with a fake throw before tagging her out. Melissa Brown doubled next to put runners at second and third, and an intentional walk to Davin loaded the bases. Andrews sent one into foul territory that South Carolina senior leftfielder Kaitlin Westfall laid out for and snagged to end the threat.
The Gamecocks cut that 2-0 deficit in half in the bottom of the third thanks to a two-out RBI double by sophomore second baseman Dana Hathorn. That scored senior pinch runner Jackie Slawson, who replaced freshman first baseman Olivia Lawrence after she was hit by a pitch to start the inning. Slawson moved into scoring position on senior centerfielder Lauren Lackey's hit to left.
The Lady Vols took command of the game with a four-run fifth. Burchell followed Gibson's single with a homer that hit the top of the padding in center and bounced over the wall. Brown singled and moved to second on Holly Baker's sacrifice bunt. Andrews stepped up and drove the 2-1 pitch over the wall in left center for her first home run of the season, making it 6-1 in favor of Tennessee. Tory Lewis doubled, and Raven Chavanne posted a bunt single to put runners at the corners, but Gamecock freshman reliever Katelynn Howser got a strikeout to end the frame.
Ellen Renfroe (25-3) got the win, allowing three earned runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out seven. Older sister Ivy Renfroe collected her second save with 1.2 innings of work, walking one and fanning two. Broyles (7-9) took the loss, giving up five earned runs on nine hits and three walks. She struck out three.
Tennessee had five players with multiple hits, led by Andrews' career 3-for-4, four-RBI day. Chavanne, Gibson and Burchell also had two hits each, with Burchell scoring twice and driving in two. The Lady Vols posted 14 hits in total, the most allowed by the Gamecocks this season.
Hawkins went 2-for-4 with the double to lead South Carolina. Hathorn also added a double, Childs had the homer, while Lackey, junior catcher Shelby Gonzales and freshman pinch hitter Kristen Struett also nabbed hits. Gonzales also threw out her second runner of the weekend against the speedy Lady Vols, gunning down Chavanne at second in the fourth, marking the second time Chavanne had been caught trying to steal and the ninth for Tennessee in 2012.
South Carolina closes out the 2012 home schedule and the current setup of Beckham Field against Auburn next weekend, with first pitch on both Friday and Saturday set for 7 p.m. EDT.
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