With the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the seventh, a record-setting crowd of 2,479 at Alumni Field rose to its feet.
Michigan’s senior catcher Roya St. Clair stepped to the plate against Tennessee’s freshman pitcher Ivy Renfroe, who tossed a complete-game two-hitter on Thursday night. The Wolverines were down 4-3, and a base hit would possibly give them a lead heading into the bottom of the seventh and maybe force a game three.
St. Clair made solid contact on the 0-2 pitch. She smashed a screaming liner to the left side of the infield, but Lady Vol shortstop Ashley Andrews didn’t need to move her feet to make the grab.
The game was over, and Tennessee formed a mosh-pit celebration in the infield between shortstop and the mound. The Wolverines will be staying home, their season officially over.
And the Lady Vols advance to the eight-team field of the Women’s College World Series.
Michigan came into today’s matchup forced to battle with a shorthanded lineup.
In the fourth inning of last night’s game, junior first baseman Dorian Shaw ripped a line drive into her own dugout, fracturing the right arm of sophomore leftfielder and leadoff hitter Bree Evans.
Senior centerfielder Molly Bausher moved up to the leadoff spot for today’s game, as a combination of freshman utility player Amy Knapp and junior outfielder Marley Powers filled the vacated nine-hole.
Tennessee pitching picked up right where it left off last night, as sophomore hurler Cat Hosfield didn’t allow a run until senior rightfielder Angela Findlay cracked a two-out home run to left center.
Hosfield was promptly replaced by Renfroe, who gave up a two-run shot off the bat of Shaw in the following inning.
In the seventh, sophomore shortstop Stephanie Kirkpatrick drew the leadoff walk. Bausher singled to left after Knapp struck out, and Findlay blooped one into center to load the bases with her third hit of the day.
Kirkpatrick was held up at third, as Michigan coach Carol Hutchins was well aware of the rocket arm of Tennessee centerfielder Kelly Grieve.
Senior third baseman Maggie Viefhaus struck out on a 1-2 pitch to set the stage for St. Clair’s line-out that would end Michigan’s season.
Senior pitcher Nikki Nemitz got off to a rough start on the mound for the Wolverines, as she hit her first batter on the hands. She actually hit another batter later in the first inning with the bases loading, allowing the Lady Vols to draw first blood.
After giving up a leadoff solo shot in the second, Nemitz was replaced by junior pitcher Jordan Taylor, who promptly gave up a first-pitch home run to Erinn Webb for back-to-back Tennessee homers.
Webb would hit another solo shot in the fourth frame.
With the loss, Michigan says goodbye to what was once a promising bid for a spot in the WCWS. Six seniors will be leaving Ann Arbor this offseason, five of whom played in the everyday lineup.