[title_box title=”Vol softball swept by top-ranked Gators”]
Tennessee Volunteer softball entered its three-game series against the top-ranked Florida Gators in the midst of an 11-game winning streak. During that streak, Tennessee (21-8, 3-3 SEC) averaged nearly ten runs per game, but could not figure out Florida’s dominant pitching staff over the weekend. The Gators (30-1, 5-1 SEC) swept the Vols, allowing only two runs in front of their home crowd.
Game One: Florida 5, Tennessee 0
Scoring on Florida’s ace Aleshia Ocasio happens once in a blue moon. Tennessee’s offense learned that the hard way, recording only two hits in a shutout loss to open the series. The Vols best chance to score came in the top of the sixth inning after an Abby Lockman single and Logyn Lilley walk put two runners on with no outs. Ocasio survived the scare, striking out Rainey Gaffin to end the inning unblemished. The Gators had no issues scoring on Tennessee’s freshmen pitcher Matty Moss early. After Kayli Kvistad scored Kirsti Merritt on a sacrifice fly for the first score of the game, Amanda Lorenz doubled home Kelsey Stewart to put Florida up 2-0. Lorenz scored the last run of the opening frame after a throwing error by Lexi Overstreet.
Game Two: Florida 4, Tennessee 2
Saturday’s contest began as déjà vu for the Vols. Through four innings, Tennessee’s struggles against Gator pitching continued. Florida jumped on the Vols early, scoring two runs in the bottom of the first inning. Tennessee faced a perfect opportunity to put runs on the board when it loaded the bases in the fourth inning, but Gators’ starter Kelly Barnhill struck out back-to-back batters to preserve Florida’s lead. The Vols finally broke through in the fifth inning when Megan Geer’s bases-loaded single drove in two runs and knotted the score at two runs apiece. The Gators responded with a run in the bottom half of the inning and punched in another the following inning. Tennessee’s offense was unable to recapture its momentum, and the Vols lost the second of the series, 4-2. Erin Gabriel fell to 11-3 on the season after allowing three runs in 5.1 innings.
Game Three: Florida 3, Tennessee 0
Unlike the previous games in the series, Tennessee never faced a scoring opportunity in the series finale with the Gators. Florida’s third pitcher in three games, Delanie Gourley, was every bit as effective as the Gators’ previous two, one-hitting the Vols through seven innings of shutout ball. With the loss, Tennessee dropped their record against ranked opponents to 0-7.
Featured image by Craig Bisacre, courtesy of Tennessee Athletics
Edited by Nathan Odom