Lady Vols drop contest versus Alabama

After sweeping No. 17 Alabama over weekend on the road, seventh-ranked Tennessee (40-9, 10-8 SEC) fell by a score of 4-0 on Monday. Crimson Tide pitcher Alexis Osorio again  pitched well against the Lady Vols with seven strikeouts in the seven-inning shutout.

Tennessee sophomore Cailan Hannon’s got one hit to avoid an Osorio no-hitter. After seemingly solving their offensive issues, the Lady Vols faced a shutout for the first time since their weekend series with Auburn earlier in April.

Alabama took no time getting on the board at Rhoads Stadium, as Caroline Hardy drove in a run off a single to center field. The third inning ultimately finished Tennessee, as the Crimson Tide tallied two runs on tosses from Vols pitcher Matty Moss. Merris Booker and Sydney Booker both drove in runs for Alabama with a pair of hits.

Tennessee took Moss out of the contest after the inning following three earned runs and no strikeouts in her two innings pitched. Caylan Arnold finished out the game for the Lady Vols, but she faced adversity as well.

Poor fielding once again bit Tennessee, as an error in the sixth inning brought around Booker to give the Crimson Tide a 4-0 lead. Arnold finished the game with three walks, four strikeouts and one earned run allowed.

The shutout marked Alabama’s 12th this year, as the heart of the Crimson Tide’s lineup gave them all four of their runs on Monday. All six of Alabama’s hits came from different players in the win.

After the loss, the Lady Vols tied Texas A&M for fourth place in the SEC standings. Tennessee needs wins in two important series before the SEC Tournament in Columbia, Missouri in just over two weeks.

Up next, the orange-and-white face Kentucky for a weekend series in Knoxville at Sherri Lee Parker Stadium. The Volunteers finish up their season on the road in Starkville against Mississippi State before the SEC Tournament. First pitch of Tennessee’s series with the Wildcats is set for 6 p.m. ET on SEC Network+.

Written by Seth Raborn

Featured image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics 

Lady Vols take road series in Alabama

The No. 7 Lady Vols softball team (40-8, 10-7 SEC) completed a sweep over Alabama this weekend after winning by a combined score of 14-3 in the two-game series. Tennessee’s 13-3 victory on Saturday gave the Vols their first ever sweep on the road against the Crimson Tide. The orange-and-white clinched seven straight wins following their last loss April 8.

“Whenever you sweep a doubleheader in Tuscaloosa you’re doing a good job,” Tennessee co-head coach Ralph Weekly said. “I’m proud of the girls and I’m proud of the way there fought.”

In the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader, Tennessee star shortstop Meghan Gregg recorded the only run in the game. Gregg’s RBI double in the third inning drove in junior infielder Aubrey Leach to give the Vols the 1-0 win. The Volunteers’ ace, Matty Moss, shut down No. 17 Alabama with six strikeouts in her seven innings.

Leach reached first base on a walk and proceeded to steal second base, setting up Gregg to drive in the game winning run. The two teams combined for just three hits in the entire game, as the Crimson Tide had a solid outing from the mound as well.

Alabama pitcher Alexis Osorio dealt for a full seven innings and earned 14 total punchouts in the loss. Osorio still took a loss despite her dominant performance on the bump. She allowed just two hits.

Right fielder Scarlet McSwain earned the only other hit for Tennessee, as Chelsea Seggern walked twice.

Saturday’s series finale manifested as an action-packed outing for Tennessee. The Lady Vols poured on 13 runs to finish off the Crimson Tide. Caylan Arnold led Tennessee on the mound, as she registered six strikeouts in a full game to propel the orange-and-white to a 13-3 victory.

The Tide did not roll in the second game, as the pitching duo of Madison Preston and Courtney Gettins combined to give up eight earned runs and 12 hits in the loss.

Gregg one again led the Volunteers with a 2-of-3 night at the plate and two RBIs in the game. Junior infielder Chelsea Seggern also boosted Tennessee with four RBIs on 2-of-4 hitting on the night. Seggern blasted a three-run homerun in the seventh inning to top off the Lady Vols’ already convincing lead.

Tennessee tallied seven unanswered runs starting in the fourth inning to put away the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa for the first time ever. The Lady Vols face Alabama once again on Monday. Another win over the Tide would mark the first ever three-game sweep over Alabama for Tennessee.

First pitch for Monday’s contest in Tuscaloosa is slated for 7 p.m. ET and will be shown on the SEC Network.

Written by Seth Raborn

Edited by Lexie Little

Featured image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics

Tennessee basketball MVP of the week: Grant Williams

Photo by Brad Blackwelder

Tennessee’s regular season has officially come to an end, and the last week was a microcosm for the season as a whole. The Vols (16-15, 8-10 SEC) played to the level of their competition in each game, coming away with an ugly road loss to a bad team and a thrilling home victory over a team with a better record.

That maddening inconsistency is due in large part to the fact that the team is led by mostly freshman. First-year players often struggle to find consistency from play to play and game to game, and that’s shown throughout the season. One young player has shown remarkable steadiness on the season, however, and showed it again in the pair of games over the season’s final week.

Despite being a freshman, Grant Williams is already one of the team’s two best players, and he showcased it again with a pair of good performances. Against LSU on Wednesday, he led the team with 16 points and 14 rebounds, the latter of which was a career-high. He also blocked four shots, providing the only semblance of defense in a game that finished 92-82 in favor of the Tigers. The loss ended any hopes for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, but the Charlotte native was still able to put on a show.

Williams led the team in scoring against Alabama on Saturday, piling in another 16 points. He also pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds and again swatted multiple shots, this time with three. Lew Evans stole the show with a pair of huge late 3-pointers on his Senior Day, but Williams was hugely important to the big second-half run that got the home team back in the game. He even showed off some shooting range of his own by beating the shot clock buzzer with a corner 3-pointer to pull even closer to the Crimson Tide.

The 6-foot-5 freshman has impressed all season and has been one of the primary reasons that Tennessee has exceeded expectations on the year. Whether it’s a bad loss to a team with just two conference wins or an exciting comeback victory to send off the seniors in fashion, Williams is always ready to help his team win.

As the Vols gear up for the SEC tournament, Williams will continue to lead the way with his play. Postseason play begins with a matchup against the Georgia Bulldogs at 1 p.m. ET on Thursday, March 9 in Nashville. The game will be broadcast on SEC Network.

Edited by Robert Hughes

Featured image by Brad Blackwelder

Lady Vols fall short in first round of SEC Tournament, 72-64

Tennessee (19-11) had four players in double figures, but rebound differential and bench scoring proved to be the difference in a 72-64 loss to Alabama (19-12). The Tide have won three consecutive games over the Lady Vols after losing 42 straight in the series, also bringing an end to Tennessee’s 23-game winning streak in SEC Tournament openers.

Diamond DeShields had a well-rounded performance with 15 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals. Mercedes Russell posted her 17th double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds, but was nonetheless frustrated after the loss. “It’s obviously very frustrating because our play is up and down. . . We have to keep our heads high and move forward,” Russell said.

The Crimson Tide were led in scoring by Meoshonti Knight with 16 points and Ashley Knight earned a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds, along with six blocks. Alabama out-glassed UT 44-31, which was reminiscent of the previous meeting.

In the first quarter, Tennessee jumped out to an 11-5 lead, but Alabama surged back after a scoring drought to take a 15-14 lead at the end of the quarter. The Lady Vols defense was lights out in the second quarter, holding Alabama to 23 percent shooting. Tennessee took a 29-22 lead into the half with DeShields leading the way with seven points and a pair of steals.

However, the third quarter was all Alabama. UT increased the lead to 34-24, but the Tide went on a 16-2 run while holding Lady Vols to 21 percent shooting from the field. Alabama never looked back en route to the win.

Senior Jordan Reynolds, says beating No. 3 Mississippi State on Sunday caused UT to overlook Alabama. “We didn’t think that we had to come out here and play to the best of our ability because we came off a very good win.”

Tennessee head coach Holly Warlick, said that is not the message that was conveyed in the locker room. “That’s not how the team was addressed. . . We prepared for this team like we did any other.”

Edited by Robert Hughes

Featured image by Donald Page, courtesy of Tennessee Athletics

Week one upset alert: No. 1 Alabama

College football has returned in full force as week one is now underway around the country. As every follower of the game knows, anything can happen on the right day, which leads to major upsets every year.

In week one, an SEC team that needs to be on “upset alert” is none other than the Alabama Crimson Tide.

‘Bama plays USC on Saturday night in Arlington, Texas, in a showcase featuring two of the most prestigious programs in college football history. However, they have only played seven previous times, with the Crimson Tide holding a 5-2 edge over the Trojans.

Though their history is always a focal point, what matters Saturday night are the results on the field. Many expect the Tide to roll over USC, but to quote Lee Corso, “Not so fast, my friend.”

USC has plenty of athletic playmakers on both sides of the ball, and especially on offense. The talented wide receivers, led by JuJu Smith-Schuster, Steven Mitchell and Darreus Rogers will make Max Browne’s life as a first-time starting quarterback much easier.

Alabama’s secondary should be the weakest point of the defense. If this turns out to be true, then USC is in fantastic position to take advantage all game long. The Tide will have their hands full trying to slow down the Trojans’ electric receiving corps.

That is not the only strength of this USC squad, though. Under coach Clay Helton, the Trojans look to run more often than they pass. Much of the ground game’s success is thanks to the dangerous duo of Justin Davis and Ronald Jones II.

Coupled with perhaps the best offensive line in college football, Davis and Jones often have massive lanes to run through. Though the Crimson Tide’s front seven traditionally thrive against the run, the team lost a great deal of talent from last season, and the new players replacing them will be faced with a tough test right out of the gate. If Alabama cannot slow down the Trojan rushing attack, this game may go in a much different direction than many expect it to.

Looking at these position matchups, it’s not hard to imagine a scenario in which USC can take a fight to the defending national champions, possibly even pulling out a victory. And the Trojans’ dynamic two-way playmaker Adoree’ Jackson has not even been mentioned yet. Jackson is capable of breaking the game wide open in all three phases of the game — as a wideout on offense, a corner on defense, and a returner on special teams.

If the Trojan defense can contain Alabama’s offense, which lost a significant amount of talent as well, then they could start the Crimson Tide’s national title defense off with a sour note. This is a game to watch, folks. Don’t be surprised if the Trojans give Alabama all they can handle.

Alabama and USC play Saturday night at 8:00 pm EST on ABC.

Edited by Nathan Odom

Featured image by Ken Lund

Tennessee dominates, then falls late to Alabama

[title_box title=”Tennessee dominates, then falls late to Alabama”]

The Volunteers fell to the Crimson Tide on Tuesday night, 63-57. With the loss, Tennessee fell to 10-10 overall and 3-5 in SEC play.

The Vols were hoping to build momentum after a solid home win against a solid South Carolina squad but failed to protect their 15-point lead in Tuscaloosa. Tennessee led for over thirty minutes during the game, but struggled to find any baskets in its half court sets in the final 10 minutes of the contest.

It is well known that Tennessee doesn’t have a true point guard on its roster. That fact was incredibly apparent during the last 12 minutes of the second half. After obtaining a 15-point lead over the Crimson Tide, the Volunteers were outscored 30-9 to close the game.

When Alabama took away the Tennessee transition baskets mid-way through the second half, the Volunteers offense began to stagnate.

“When we got that big lead, we stopped guarding. One time they got three offensive rebounds in a row. We never left the floor,” said head coach Rick Barnes.

“We didn’t deserve to win that game.”

The Vols’ leading scorer Kevin Punter managed to score 15 points while going 3-of-9 from three-point land. Punter only found a single trip to the charity stripe where he hit both of only two free throws.

Detrick Mostella, who the Vols rely on for a spark off the bench, finished with a disappointing 3-of-9 from the field and 1-of-5 from beyond the arc.

Alabama’s Retin Obasohan finished with an impressive 22 points while going 10-of-16 from the field. He also had five assists. Shannon Hale contributed 20 points and hit 9-of-10 free throws.

Both teams shot under 30 percent from behind the three-point line, but the real difference in the game was each team’s overall shooting percentage from the field.

Tennessee ended up shooting a dismal 34 percent from the field, while the Crimson Tide finished 40 percent from the field as a team.

Tennessee will be back in action on Saturday when it travels to take on TCU in a late season out-of-conference matchup.

Featured image by Ben Ozburn

Edited by Cody McClure