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UT wins battle of aces

GSU's Purvis, Tennessee's Renfroe brilliant in pitcher's duel

UT wins battle of aces

UT wins battle of aces

Tennessee head softball coach Ralph W...

    Georgia Southern pitcher Sarah Purvis went up against the No. 1 team in the nation and its ace pitcher Ellen Renfroe, and the difference came down to one pitch.
    Tennessee’s Mellissa Davin hit a solo home run to lead off the second inning and the top-ranked Volunteers beat GSU 1-0 on Saturday in the Eagle Round Robin Tournament at Eagle Field.
    Purvis and Renfroe both pitched a complete game.
    It was the first appearance of the season for Purvis, who was masterful. Tennessee (3-0) scattered four hits including the game-changing homer, but Purvis mowed down 10 batters for the 14th double-digit strikeout game of her career.
    “We went toe-to-toe with the number one team in the country,” GSU coach Annie Smith said. “They had four hits, and we had two. We didn't make any mistakes outside of that one pitch. It was a good game, and it shows how good we are. We were solid, and we had some good at bats."
    Following the homer, Tennessee threatened to put more runs across when back-to-back singles from Taylor Koenig and Cheyanne Tarango put runners on first and second with one out, but Purvis fanned Hannah Akamine and Rainey Gaffin on six pitches to get out of trouble.
    Georgia Southern threatened in the bottom of the second when Kortny Thomas blooped a single into shallow centerfield to start the frame. Kaitlyn Johnson dropped a sacrifice bunt in front of the plate to advance Thomas to second, but Renfroe ended the second the same way Purvis did, with a pair of strikeouts.
    Thomas was 5-for-6 with a pair of homers and a walk through the tournament’s first two games.
    Renfroe matched Purvis by striking out 10 Eagles. Emily Snider recorded GSU’s only other hit with a single to right in the sixth. Thomas reached scoring position for the second time in the fourth when she walked and Johnson was hit by a Renfroe pitch. The Eagles were set down in order in the first, third, fifth and seventh innings.
    Purvis also retired the side in order four times.
    Georgia Southern got closest to plating a run when third baseman Shelby Morrill, who also homered in the season opener on Friday and in Saturday’s nightcap against Oakland, drove a line drive to right field that was fielded by Lexi Overstreet at the warning track.
    The game was played in front of an Eagle Field record 751 fans.

Georgia Southern 7, Oakland 0
    Georgia Southern’s Marla Thompson, a native of Screven County, pitched a complete game shutout against the Oakland Grizz and the Eagles (2-1) cruised to a 7-0 victory on Saturday.
    It was the third time in three games an Eagle went the distance this season.
    “I have said since I have gotten here that pitching is one of our strengths,” Smith said. “We have a great pitching staff. I am fortunate to have that. That is where the game is won. It is nice to see them each of them get a full game and do that."
    The Eagles racked up nine hits in a game that followed a tough, 1-0 loss to Tennessee.
    “I am really happy about that,” Smith said. “I told them a sign of a good team is one that doesn't have any letdown and goes and plays their game."
    Shelby Morrill opened the scoring with a two-run homer in the second inning, tripled in a run in the third and scored on a sacrifice fly by Kourtny Thomas to put GSU ahead 5-0.
    Emily Snider drove in a pair of runs in the fourth with a bases-loaded single.
    Thompson allowed two hits, struck out four and walked only one.
    The Eagles close the tournament today at 12:30 p.m., against Northern Colorado.

    Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-4908.

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