Lady Vols softball travels to California for Mary Nutter Classic

Tennessee Softball (10-1) heads to the Mary Nutter Classic in Cathedral City, California to take on six teams starting Thursday. The Lady Vols are fresh off a 5-1 performance in the Michele Smith Tournament in Florida last weekend, where they lost their first game of the season to Florida Atlantic.

In their first 11 games, the Volunteers outscored their opponents by a combined total of 63-31.

“I just think we need to carry ourselves with a little bit more swagger and realize who we are and why we came here,” co-head coach Karen Weekly said. “We came here to be in tough games and we came here to win those tough games and I think we need to take the field with an attitude.”

Tennessee’s bullpen appears to be its strong suit. Matty Moss, Gabby Sprang and Caylan Arnold have combined for 69 strikeouts and a 2.03 ERA. Moss leads the group with five wins, 22 strikeouts and a 1.35 ERA so far this season. Weekly said her goals and aspirations for the pitchers every game is “no walks,” and so far, they have fared well.

Six Tennessee players are hitting more than .300, as Meghan Gregg leads the team with an amazing .559 average and 14 RBI’s through just 11 games.

“We’ve had some ups and downs, everyone is going to make mistakes every once in a while. But I think as a cohesive unit we are together and I really enjoy that part of the game,” junior infielder Aubrey Leach said. “I think we have some grit and we really enjoy playing together.”

Tennessee kicks off the Mary Nutter Classic with a 1 p.m. game against BYU (4-6) who looks to snap a two game losing streak. The Cougars lost the final two games of the Marucci Desert Classic to Long Beach State and Iowa State by a combined three runs.

Later in the day, Tennessee will take on Bethune-Cookman (3-3) at 3:30 p.m. The Wildcats are currently on a three-game win streak after competing in the Disney Diamond 9 Citrus Blossom Invite last weekend.

The Friday slate includes a rematch for the Lady Vols, as they face UC Davis (7-4) for the second time this season after beating the team 6-0 in the Kajikawa Classic. Since then, the Aggies have a 6-3 record and have won their last four games. Following its game with UC Davis, Tennessee takes on Oregon State (7-4) who is fresh off a one-run loss to No. 7 LSU. The Beavers are 2-2 against ranked teams this season.

Tennessee closes the tournament against No. 5 Oregon (9-1) on Saturday at 3 p.m. ET. The Ducks started the season 9-0 before losing their last game to No. 15 Ole Miss 1-0 in extra innings. Tennessee’s final matchup of the tournament will come against Northwestern (5-4), who has lost two of its last three matchups after starting the season 4-1.

Despite their travel to start the season, the Lady Vols still gather great support.

“The energy we feel from the very start of the game to the very end, they really do influence us and give us that extra energy boost when we need it,” Leach said. “It amazes me every time.”

Edited by Ben McKee

Featured image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics

No. 11 Lady Vols sweep Kajikawa Classic

The Kajikawa Classic was no match for the Lady Vols (6-0) as they beat their six opponents by a combined score of 40-18. Tennessee’s ace pitcher Matty Moss notched three wins in the tournament, as shortstop Meghan Gregg led the Vols with an impressive 8-of-17 hitting from the plate.

Tennessee got off to a solid start on Thursday, as it took care of Boise State in convincing 8-1 fashion. Gregg tallied a perfect batting average to start the season by going 3-for-3 and logging five RBI’s in the opening game. Moss served up the Broncos from the mound with three strikeouts and no earned runs in her 2018 debut.

With two outs in the bottom of the first inning, Gregg smashed a solo homerun shot to deep center. However, Boise State tied the score at one run apiece. Gregg sent a 2-2 pitch over the left field wall to make it a 4-1 Volunteers lead. Gregg recorded her fifth RBI of the day to give Tennessee the 8-1 win over the Broncos.

Tennessee registered its first win against a ranked opponent later in the day, as the team defeated No. 19 Arizona State by a 7-4 margin. This time, senior Scarlet McSwain led the Volunteers in the batting column by going 2-of-3 and notching three RBI’s in the win. Pitcher Caylan Arnold didn’t start hot giving up three earned runs to the Sun DevilsĀ in two innings.

However, freshman Gabby Sprang closed out the remaining five innings with just one earned run allowed and four strikeouts for Tennessee. Infielder Aubrey Leach put the cherry on top for the Vols in the seventh inning as she scored on an Arizona State pitching error.

The Lady Vols got back in action against Western Michigan. Moss led Tennessee to a 6-2 win following her second complete game of the season. Tennessee got out to a fast start as Leach hit a ball to center field for a leadoff home run, followed up by McSwain, who hit her second home run of the tournament.

The Broncos cut the Tennessee lead to just three runs in the fifth inning, but an RBI single from infielder Chelsea Seggern gave the Vols another convincing lead. Tennessee finished off Western Michigan behind Moss’ six strikeouts and just two earned runs.

Tennessee received a wakeup call later in the day against San Jose State, winning 7-6. The Lady Vols led 7-4 through four innings, but allowed the Spartans to storm back and cut the lead to just one run. Sprang tallied her second win as a freshman, as Moss closed out the game for the Vols. Gregg notched a perfect 2-for-2 hitting on the day with one RBI, followed by Seggern, who had two RBI’s in the game.

Arnold got back on her feet against UC Davis Saturday whenTennessee cruised to a 6-0 victory over the Aggies. Arnold and Moss combined for 11 strikeouts and no earned runs in the win. Seggern once again performed well with a three-run home run in the first inning. McSwain took a ball over the fence to give the Vols a 5-0 lead. Freshman Ashley Morgan put the nail in the coffin with a solo homer.

Tennessee’s final game electrified the tournament as the Vols marked a 6-5 win over No. 15 Utah with a walk off double from Abby Lockman, who finished with four RBI’s. Three of Tennessee’s pitchers made appearances in the win. Arnold gave up three earned runs in five innings pitched. Moss and Sprang meshed for just over one inning pitched, and Sprang gathered the win.

The Lady Vols travel to Clearwater, Florida next to play in the Michele Smith Tournament, which will feature games against Oklahoma State and South Florida. Tennessee will play Friday at 11 a.m. ET.

Edited by Ben McKee

Featured image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics