[title_box title=”Vol softball sweeps Mississippi State”]
After coming off a tough series against the top-ranked Florida Gators, Tennessee softball bounced back, sweeping the No. 25 Mississippi State Bulldogs at Sherri Parker Lee Stadium this past weekend. The Vols have now swept both SEC opponents faced at home this season.
Tennessee (25-8, 6-3 SEC) remains undefeated at home, improving its record to 13-0 overall. The Vols kicked the series off on Friday evening with a 6-2 comeback victory against the Bulldogs.
Rainey Gaffin dominated the mound for the Volunteers, earning her fourth win of the season while throwing her second complete game in a row. Gaffin allowed a mere two hits and three baserunners while retiring the last 19 batters.
Mississippi State ( 20-10, 1-3 SEC) gained an early lead against Tennessee with two unearned runs in the first inning. Gaffin started off strong on the mound retiring the Bulldogs first two batters, but an error at first base allowed the Bulldogs to rally with back-to-back RBI’s from Amanda Ivy and Mackenzie Toller, giving Mississippi State a 2-0 lead.
The Vols’ bats came alive in the third inning, collecting four hits and two runs to tie the game at two.
Megan Geer led the inning with a triple and scored on an RBI single by Brooke Vines the following at bat. Later in the inning, Lexi Overstreet drove in the tying run with a single. Tenessee went on to load the bases with no outs, but the Bulldog’s relief pitcher Megan Green was able to retire the next three batters to end the inning.
The Volunteers’ bats came alive yet again in the sixth inning, scoring four runs to gain a 6-2 lead. Geer started off the inning with a base hit and scored the go-ahead- run on an error in left field. Meghan Gregg drilled an RBI single to give Tennessee a two run lead right before Gretchen Aucoin belted a triple down the right-field line brought the Volunteer lead up to three. Aucoin’s score on a wild pitch increased Tennessee’s lead to four.
Gaffin quickly retired Mississippi State in the seventh inning with two groundouts and a strikeout.
The Vols continued their hot streak on Saturday with a series-clinching 8-5 win.
Tennessee’s patience at the plate during the bottom of the second inning led to a 5-0 lead.. The Volunteers scored on one hit, four walks and one hit batter.
Two walks and a fielder’s choice loaded the bases for the Vols with no outs in the inning before an error by the Bulldogs’ third baseman allowed Aucoin to score. Back-to-back walks by Geer and Vines led the Vols to a 3-0 lead.
Later in the inningl Gregg recorded the first hit of the game with an RBI single to left field. Overstreet brought in the final run of the inning home after being struck by a pitch.
Tennessee continued the third inning where they left off in the second and added three more runs. Scarlett McSwain and Vines both made huge contributions. McSwain opened the inning with a solo bomb on a full-count pitch over the scoreboard in left center. Vines followed with an inside-the-park home run, knocking the ball off the right field wall and avoiding a tag at home plate for her first career home run. The Vols ended the inning with an 8-0 lead.
Mississippi State fired back in the fourth inning with four runs. Two singles and an error loaded the bases for Amanda Ivy, who cleared the bases with a double to the gap in right- center field. Mackenzie Troller brought in the fourth and final run of the inning with a sacrifice fly to left field. Katie Bailey drove in one more run for the Bulldogs in the fifth inning.
Pitcher Erin Gabriel would close the game for the Vols by striking out two batters in the sixth and stranding a runner on second to end the seventh.
Tennessee’s offense erupted again against Mississippi State on Easter Sunday, earning the series sweep with a 9-2 victory.
Once again, the Vols dominated with a combined effort of patience and power. Eight players recorded a hit and seven drove in runs. The team drew nine walks from five different Bulldogs pitchers.
McSwain’s bases-loaded grounder in the first inning drove in two runs. Tennessee added two more in the third inning thanks to Vines’ SEC-high fourth triple and Overstreet’s RBI single. Later in the inning, Aucoin’s walk with the bases loaded tacked on another run.
Mississippi State bounced back in the fifth thanks to a two-run homer by Carolina Seitz, but the Vols refused to let the Bulldogs come back by adding three more runs in the bottom of the fifth inning and two more runs in the sixth inning.
During the series, every Tennessee starting pitcher earned a victory. The Vols scored six or more runs in each game and scored a combined 23 runs off of a Mississippi State pitching staff that ranked No. 4 overall in ERA.
Tennessee begin a four-game road streak on Tuesday in Nashville when they take on Lipscomb at 6 p.m. ET. The game will be live to listen to on WNML-AM 990.
Featured image by Craig Bisacre, courtesy of Tennessee Athletics
Edited by David Bradford