Texas pitcher Blaire Luna gave up just three hits.
One of those hits was big: a solo-home run in the first inning.
And then Luna walked home another run in the sixth inning.
That’s all Tennessee needed toe eliminate Texas 2-1 in the 2013 Women’s College World Series on Sunday at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium. Tennessee is first team to make this year’s WCWS championship round. The Volunteers (52-10) will face the winner of Washington-Oklahoma, which was being played at press time.
The first game of Sunday’s second session was one of clean fielding and superb pitching. While Tennessee’s starting pitcher, Ivy Renfroe, struck out six in 4.2 innings, Luna struck out 11 in seven innings. Neither team recorded an error.
The first hit of the game came in the third at-bat. Luna faced Tennessee’s Lauren Gibson. She lined a home run to the left field bleachers.
“I just went up there looking for a good pitch to hit,” Gibson said. “I saw it, and I hit it.”
The game remained quiet until the fifth inning, when Tennessee’s Ellen Renfroe got her sister Ivy out of a tough situation.
“Maybe a little,” Ivy Renfroe said of her nerves. “Maybe thinking a little too much. Thanks to Ellen for coming in and having my back with all the other outs that she had to get.”
With two runners on and two out, Ellen Renfroe was brought in to convert on the last out. She ended up working out of the jam, getting Texas’ Brejae Washington to hit a dribbler to the first baseman.
Then in the top of the sixth, Luna put herself in trouble. She walked Gibson. Then after securing two outs, Luna hit Cheyanne Tarango with a pitch, then walked Rainey Gaffin to load the bases. The next batter, Hannah Akamine, walked to drive in the Vols’ second run of the game.
In the bottom of the sixth, though, Ellen Renfroe faced trouble by allowing the first two batters to single. Then she struck out one, forced a fly-out and a groundout to keep the Longhorns scoreless.
“I knew that Ivy had worked hard the entire game to hold them to no runs, so I was just going in and doing it for my sister,” Ellen Renfroe said.
On the first pitch of the seventh inning, Longhorns No. 8 hitter, Gabby Smith, knocked one to right center to finally put Texas on the board. It wasn’t enough, though. Despite Texas turning its headgear to rally visors, Renfroe got the next two batters to ground out. Then Washington hit the final pitch of the game right back into Renfroe’s glove for the final out.
Texas (51-10) made its first appearance in the WCWS since 2007. The Longhorns were the fifth team to be eliminated from the tournament.