Tennessee (13-2) couldn’t overcome a slow start in a tough loss to the Longhorns (11-3) to close out the Mary Nutter Classic on Saturday.
Maryville native Caylan Arnold was on the mound again for the Vols, but struggled against the Longhorns, taking the loss.
Arnold retired the first two batters easily, but a solo homer, a walk and a pair of doubles put Texas up 3-0 after the first inning.
Texas pitcher Tiarra Davis pitched four no-hit innings before giving up a leadoff home run to Tennessee junior shortstop Megan Gregg hit a lead-off home run to start the fifth inning. The homer gave Gregg RBI No. 23, which leads the team. An error by the Longhorns later in the inning allowed another Vols’ run to score, cutting the Longhorn lead to 3-2 going into the sixth.
However, a leadoff home run from Mickenzi Krpec in the bottom of the sixth inning extended the Texas lead back to two. The Longhorns retired Tennessee in order in the seventh inning — the final two by way of strikeouts. Davis pitched a complete game, only giving up five hits and adding four strikeouts.
Vols head coach Ralph Weekly said fatigue contributed to the loss. “We came out pretty flat … you can sugar coat it all you want, but we didn’t play as well as we can play.”
Weekly said being on the road for so long results in a learning curve for a young team.
A positive takeaway for Tennessee was the relief performance sophomore Matty Moss displayed. She entered the game to start the second inning and racked up seven strikeouts while surrendering only one run in six innings. She has at least five strikeouts in seven of her last 10 appearances.
Tennessee returns home next week after playing its first 15 games of the season on the road. Tennessee went 24-3 in Sherri Parer Lee Stadium last season with an NCAA-best 22-1 record during the regular season. The Vols’ home opener is Thursday at 3 p.m. against Southeastern Louisiana, followed by another game against Ohio at 5:30 p.m.
Edited by Nathan Odom
Featured image by Craig Bisacre, courtesy of Tennessee Athletics