The No. 9 Tennessee softball team lost a series with South Carolina over the weekend in Columbia to open up SEC play.
The Vols headed in to the three game series ranked ninth in the country and with a 28 game win streak over the Gamecocks and an all-time lead in the series of 35-15. Those stats and figures have now changed as South Carolina took two of the three games over the weekend.
Friday the Vols sent Erin Gabriel to face off with South Carolina’s Nickie Blue. South Carolina hit four home runs in the game and took the series opener 8-0 to end the Vols 28 game win streak. Blue managed to shut down the Tennessee bats as she gave up only four hits in the six inning game.
Gabriel did not have a good night giving up six earned runs in four innings. Cheyanne Tarango gave up one earned run in her 1.1 innings of work. The lack of offense for Tennessee and the struggles in the circle led to the first loss to the Gamecocks since April 1, 2003.
Saturday Tennessee looked to rebound and tie the series with the Gamecocks. Gretchen Aucoin headed to the circle taking on Julie Sarrat. Aucoin gave up five hits, five runs, two walks and recorded one strikeout in 1.1 innings. Rainey Gaffin pitched seven innings of relief, giving up five hits, two runs, five walks and recording 11 strikeouts.
The Vols’ bats came alive scoring four in the first inning but South Carolina answered scoring three in the first, two in the second and one in the third. For Tennessee it was Aucoin crushing two homers and Annie Aldrete hit the game tying RBI in the top of the seventh that set the game into extra innings. Aucoin also had four RBIs in the game. Taylor Koenig hit a RBI single to center early in the game as well. Despite the effort, the Vols would fall 7-6 in nine innings to the Gamecocks.
After playing in their first extra inning game since a 5-3 loss to Oklahoma in game one of the Women’s College World Series on June 4, 2013, Tennessee was trying to rebound and avoid the sweep on Sunday as they sent Erin Gabriel to the circle.
Gabriel pitched four innings allowing four hits and giving up one run. She also gave up one walk and recorded four strikeouts. Rainey Gaffin would come on in relief in the fifth and strikeout all three batters she faced. Not only did the Vols get a lights out performance in the circle, they got a power surge from the plate. Gretchen Aucoin hit a two-run home run to give her three homers for the weekend. Aldrete, Gaffin and Lexi Overstreet each added a hit and two RBIs as the Vols rolled South Carolina 9-1 in five innings.
Tennessee returns home to play Western Kentucky on Tuesday at 6 p.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