With the eyes of a national television audience on No. 10 Tennessee (35-9, 16-6 SEC) and No. 21 LSU (29-13, 11-6 SEC) as ESPN provided coverage of Saturday and Sunday’s contests, the highly touted Lady Vols did not disappoint, sweeping the Tigers in the three-game series over the weekend.
    
“It’s awesome,” said co-head coach Karen Weekly of the national exposure. “I mean, the best thing to happen to the sport of softball in the last eight to 10 years is TV. To be on main ESPN, we are very proud to show off this great facility and this fan base. It was a great showing in front of a national TV audience.”
    
Fronted by the stellar pitching duo of sisters Ellen and Ivy Renfroe, who combined for 15 strikeouts, the Lady Vols’ weekend series was a tale of two offenses.
    
Stranding an uncharacteristic 11 base runners Friday, Tennessee utilized yet another long-ball from sophomore Madison Shipman to etch a series-opening 2-0 win.
   
 Jumping on the first pitch she saw in the bottom of the second, Shipman snuck her career-best ninth home run of the year over the left field wall. Giving the team its first lead, the blast marked the shortstop’s fifth home run in Lady Vols’ last five contests.
   
 “LSU is a great team and we came out here trying to do the little things right,” Shipman said. “We just came out here ready to play. I’m just glad I could help.”
    
However, a lackluster six base knocks would prove non-fatal for the Lady Vols with sophomore pitcher Ellen Renfroe in the circle.
    
Ellen Renfroe threw a three-hit, complete game en route to throwing her NCAA leading 14th shutout and 19th complete game on the season.
    
“Ellen Renfroe is a fantastic pitcher,” said co-head coach Ralph Weekly. “What you saw there was a great, great pitching performance. I just told ’em that I was proud of ’em, but RBIs are the most important stats in softball and very seldom do you win when you leave 11 runners in scoring position.”
    
The Lady Vols seemed to take Ralph Weekly’s message to heart.
    
Offensive woes would be corrected come Saturday as the Lady Vols, behind junior second baseman Lauren Gibson, bested the Lady Tigers 4-2.
   
 Leading the offensive charge, Gibson was 3-for-3 at the plate with a run and an RBI.
   
 “We just came out and had a plan today,” Gibson said. “We had a plan yesterday and all, it just seemed to work better today. We had a long chain of good at bats. It was good.”
   
 Masked by the offensive barrage, junior pitcher Ivy Renfore silently brought a no-hitter into the seventh inning before surrendering a one-out hit to LSU pinch-hitter Kailey McCasland.
    
“It’s not that big of a deal to me,” Ivy Renfroe said of her near no-hitter. “I know that my defense deserved a no-hitter; they played awesome. If anything, I feel sorry for them. I guess you always are (heartbroken) but really it’s not what matters. I’m just blessed that we won the game.”
    
The Lady Vols continued their impressive offensive showing on Sunday, using the big-inning late to best the Lady Tigers.
    
“Once we got going, we all just pulled together and got it done,” said senior Shelby Burchell. “I think any coach would be happy to see us improve on a stat. I think he’s happy with the win.”
    
Junior speedster Raven Chavanne was caught stealing for the first time this season. Before Sunday, the third baseman was 21-for-21 in steal attempts.
    
But the two-time All-American would utilize her speed in other ways in the fifth.
    
Center fielder Tory Lewis reached on a double to shallow left field. Chavanne rolled a bunt down the first-base line. The charging LSU pitcher airmailed the throw with the former all-state track star racing down first, scoring Lewis and giving life to a five-run fifth.
    
Later that same inning, with the bases loaded for Burchell, the right-hander slapped a bases-clearing double to left-center, capping consecutive five-run innings for the Lady Vols.
    
“We’ve really been stressing keeping bats alive in this last couple games,” Burchell said. “I just jumped on it and there it went.”
    
Coming off the bench, freshman Hannah Akamine punched a game-ending, two-RBI single to top the Lady Tigers 10-2 by mercy rule in the sixth.