No. 20 Tennessee scored seven runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to turn a one-run game into an 8-0 run-rule victory in five innings on Friday night.
“It’s big to be able to put runs on the board like that,” co-head coach Karen Weekly said after the game. “Just to kind of get everybody passing the baton. . . do your job, pass the baton on to the next person and let them go up there and start a chain reaction and keep it going.”
The Vols (24-5, 4-3 SEC) blanked No. 23 Ole Miss (22-7, 0-4 SEC) behind Matty Moss’s complete game two-hitter. Moss (13-1) struck out five, allowing just five batters to reach base during the game — three in the first inning alone.
The sophomore pitcher forced Ole Miss first baseman Alyssa Gonzalez to pop out in foul territory with the bases loaded in the opening frame, snuffing out the biggest scoring threat the Rebels put together all night.
“She’s really taken a hard look at what she needs to do and not focused on the results of the pitches, but focused on the process,” Weekly said. “You saw a much different Matty Moss tonight.”
Tennessee got another big boost from redshirt freshman Taylor Rowland. Rowland opened the scoring in the first with a double off an Ole Miss outfielder’s glove at the wall in the first inning, scoring Brooke Vines.
During the Vols’ big fifth inning, Rowland unloaded on a 1-2 pitch, getting enough extra power to send this one over the wall for a three-run homer.
“I was just having the same mindset and same plan (as the first at-bat),” Rowland said. “I just followed my plan and it worked out.”
The Vols’ big fifth inning started at the top of the lineup. Leadoff hitter Aubrey Leach tripled to open the inning before Jenna Holcomb singled and Meghan Gregg was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
Tennessee senior Megan Geer hit a slow grounder to third base, but Leach scored on the throw home after the Rebels’ catcher stood in front of the plate instead of on it, pushing the Vols’ lead to 2-0.
Two batters later, Vines singled to center, scoring Holcomb and Gregg and advancing Geer to third to set up Rowland’s bomb.
The Vols’ final run of the night came on a bit of a broken play. After Holcomb beat out an infield single, pinch-runner Tianna Batts advanced to third. When some indecision led to a throw towards second, Batts rounded third and beat a late throw to end the game.
The second game of the three-game weekend series was played Saturday night at 6 p.m. ET, with the third coming at 1:30 p.m. Sunday.
Edited by Quinn Pilkey
Featured image by Brad Blackwelder