Tennessee’s softball team opened their season this past weekend by dominating the competition at the Kennesaw State Classic. The Lady Vols went 4-0 thanks to strong play at the plate.
The Kennesaw State Classic was held Friday through Sunday in Georgia. The Lady Vols played a double header on Friday to kick off the weekend, then followed up with games on Saturday and Sunday. Tennessee achieved their perfect start with decisive wins – 5-0, 9-0, 13-5 and 15-2.
Erin Gabriel took the circle in game one of the Friday slate against Ohio and picked up the win while pitching four innings and recording three strikeouts. Rainey Gaffin relieved Gabriel during the fifth inning and recorded five strikeouts.
While Tennessee had some solid performers in the circle, they found major success at the plate. Taylor Koenig and Gaffin both had big days at the plate – each hitting a two-run homer during the game. Tory Lewis added the other run with an RBI sac fly that gave Tennessee a 1-0 lead in the second inning.
When the Lady Vols took the field for the second time Friday it was to take on the Dayton Flyers. Texas Tech transfer Gretchen Aucoin was in the circle and pitched the entire five inning run rule game for UT. Aucoin recorded four strikeouts and gave up just two hits in the win.
Gaffin continued with momentum, adding a grand slam and five RBI’s to her stats for the day. Gaffin finished the day with two home runs and seven RBI’s.
The Lady Vols got a home run and one RBI from Annie Aldrete. Freshman Meghan Gregg had an impact on the defensive end for UT with a big play in the first – throwing out Dayton’s Tiffany Ricks.
On Saturday, Tennessee took on tournament host Kennesaw State, a game the Lady Vols would claim 13-5. Gabriel struggled pitching, giving up five runs. Aucoin came in to relieve Gabriel and pitched the last three innings of the match up, recording six strikeouts. Aucoin also hit a two-run home run and had four RBI’s in the game.
Aldrete added three RBI’s to lift Tennessee to their third tournament win. After the rough start for Gabriel, UT trailed the Owls 3-1. However, the bats came alive for Tennessee in the top of the second inning as the Lady Vols captured a 7-3 lead and never looked back.
The Lady Vols were looking for the weekend sweep when they finished off the tournament Sunday against Northern Kentucky. Gaffin saw her first start of the weekend and recorded four strikeouts, giving up only two runs to Northern Kentucky. Koenig provided Tennessee with a three-run home run and racked up seven RBI’s on the day.
Scarlet McSwain added five RBI’s and a home run of her own. The Lady Vols got off to a fast start scoring four runs in the first inning.
Tennessee will begin play in the USF Presidents Day Weekend Tournament on Friday, Feb. 13 at 11:15 a.m.
Edited by Cody McClure
Sam Forman is the lead sports staff writer for the Tennessee Journalist and is a senior studying Journalism and Electronic Media with a focus on sports broadcasting and reporting. He has been with TNJN since the fall of 2014. He is also a DJ for WUTK 90.3 fm. and a member of the Rock Solid Sports team. Sam has spent six years marching in the Pride of The Southland Marching Band. When he is not covering or talking sports, you can find him outdoors, playing music or hanging out with friends. You can find him on twitter: @samWforman