When the iconic synth line to Coolio’s hip-hop staple “Gangster’s Paradise” eerily plays over the speakers at Sherri Parker Lee Stadium, Lexi Overstreet immediately thinks of her father.
“It’s really funny,” Overstreet said of her walk-up song. “When my dad and I are in the car or when my dad has a company party, we literally can rap every single word to that song. And having that song when I go up to bat makes me think of him because he’s not able to come to my games a lot.”
Overstreet turned Sherri Parker Lee Stadium into a scorer’s paradise on Tuesday night. Her grand slam in the bottom of the fourth sparked Tennessee softball to an 8-0 run-rule victory over Kennesaw State.
It’s just another accomplishment for the senior out of Suwanee, Ga. Only 38 games into the season, Overstreet has surpassed career highs in hits (39), runs (34), RBIs (43), and is on pace to set personal bests in batting average (.382) and slugging percentage (.690).
Before the start of the season, co-head coach Karen Weekly described the senior catcher as a player to keep an eye on. Overstreet’s performance has everyone watching now, and according to Weekly, is the team’s most improved player.
“When you look at someone over a four-year career, she’s really matured as a leader,” Weekly said. “And that’s the thing that excites me the most as a coach because she’s been so consistent this year.”
“One thing I ask them (my players) every year is who are our consistent players… who can we depend on to bring the same attitude, the same emotion, the same mental game to the field every day, and it’s so gratifying to see her have that.”
Before Overstreet’s grand slam, freshman Aubrey Leach’s triple in the first inning and subsequent score gave the Vols a 2-0 lead.
But six stranded Tennessee runners kept Kennesaw State in the game until Overstreet approached the batter’s box in the bottom of the fourth inning.
Facing a full count with the bases loaded, Overstreet used her sharpened vision and mental game to capitalize on the opportunity.
“I haven’t really been seeing the ball like I normally have,” Overstreet said. “I made a small adjustment on my swing and it really helped… and my mental game has been one of my best aspects of my game. I’m just really staying focused with it and not backing down.”
Rainey Gaffin (7-3) pitched four one-hit innings before being replaced by freshmen Matty Moss in the fifth inning. Moss continues to embrace whatever role she is handed, whether it’s as a starter or a reliever.
“I think she’s settled down and really understands her role,” Gaffin said. “She has accepted the things I’ve talked to her about as a veteran pitcher.”
The Vols (28-10, 7-5 SEC) play the No. 10 ranked Texas A&M Aggies at home this weekend. First pitch is scheduled for Friday at 6 p.m. ET.
Featured image by Craig Bisacre, courtesy of Tennessee Athletics
Edited by Cody McClure