Tennessee celebrates its Women’s College World Series win over Florida on Thursday in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo)
OKLAHOMA CITY — Melissa Brown had a two-run double in Tennessee’s three-run first inning, and Ellen Renfroe limited Florida to four hits and struck out nine to help the Lady Vols beat the Gators 9-2 on Thursday in the second game of the Women’s College World Series.
Tennessee (50-10) advanced to face Washington on Friday.
“I think it feels great to get that first win under our belt,” Renfroe said. “We’re just excited to move on and focus on the next game and enjoy this while we can but we have business to take care of later.”
Washington opened the tournament with a 4-3 victory over Nebraska.
Second-seeded Florida (57-8) will play Nebraska on Saturday in an elimination game.
In the first inning, Kat Dotson and Lauren Gibson drew walks off Hannah Rogers, and Madison Shipman singled to left to load the bases. Rogers walked Cheyanne Tarango to force in a run, then threw two more balls to Melissa Brown before Florida coach Tim Walton ended her day after 13 pitches. Brown drove a 3-2 pitch from Lauren Haeger to center to make it 3-0.
Florida cut it to 3-2 in the fifth on Kelsey Stewart’s NCAA-leading 10th triple and Stephanie Tofft’s RBI single.
Dotson and Gibson doubled in Tennessee’ four-run sixth, and the Lady Vols added two more runs in the seventh.
“We didn’t play very well, with uncharacteristic mistakes,” said Walton, whose team had two errors. “Offensively, we had a chance and came back in the fifth and we battled. I really give our kids credit for the fight. We just didn’t have enough.”
After watching Florida edge his team for the Southeastern Conference championship on the last day of the season, Tennessee coach Ralph Weekly cautioned his players.
“I called them together and told them they weren’t going to back into a championship,” Weekly said. “They had to explode and explode right then or they would take it from us.”