Lady Vols bounce back against Memphis

After dropping a third straight series and back-to-back games, Tennessee (34-8, 5-7 SEC) rebounded with an 8-0 throttling of Memphis on Tuesday. The No. 10 ranked Lady Vols rolled to an 8-0 victory in five innings in the Mid-State Classic matchup in Columbia, Tennessee.

Star Tennessee shortstop Meghan Gregg registered her 51st career homerun in orange-and-white to tie the Tennessee all-time record. With the win, Tennessee advances to an impressive 123-3 record against in-state teams and remains undefeated against such teams under head coaches Ralph and Karen Weekly.

“It was terrific to see us hit the ball like we did today,” K. Weekly said. “It was great breakout in Columbia in front of a great crowd.”

Ridley Sports Complex packed in a sold out crowd, as they saw Gregg and the Volunteers get their bats going early in the game. Gregg hit the first RBI of the day, as senior Scarlet McSwain rounded out the first inning with a sac-fly to give Tennessee a 2-0 lead.

Tennessee didn’t infiltrate the score column again until the fourth inning, but the Vols did not mind. Gregg recommenced the festivities with a three-run homerun to right field. The fifth inning inevitably stopped the game short for the Tigers, as the Lady Vols tallied three more runs in the inning.

After three back-to-back singles for Tennessee to start the fifth inning, junior catcher Abby Lockman brought in a run off a walk. Shortly after, sophomore outfielder Jenna Holcomb hit an RBI single, as the eighth and Memphis gave up the final run of the game on a fielding error.

Lady Vols pitcher Caylan Arnold got back into motion after a rough weekend series against Auburn last week. Arnold earned the win after pitching four innings and striking out four batters. Matty Moss stepped in to relieve Arnold for the final two batters of the game. The Tigers pitchers gave up five walks and had just one strikeout in the loss.

Tennessee cruised to victory with Gregg’s dominant performance.

“We’ve been really struggling the past few weeks, and this just gave us a momentum boost going forward,” Gregg said. “We’ve been working on some things this week, more mentally than physically.”

Tennessee got back on track with its win over Memphis after scoring just seven runs in their last seven games prior to Tuesday. The Vols will need their play to carry over to this weekend as they take on yet another ranked SEC opponent.

With three-quarters of the season in the books, Tennessee ranks ninth in the SEC standings and has just five wins over in-conference opponents on the year. The Lady Vols will need to be on their A-game as they take on No. 14 LSU in Knoxville this weekend.

The orange-and-white will hit the field on Friday at Sherri Parker Lee Stadium at 7 p.m. ET. The game will be televised on ESPNU.

Written by Seth Raborn

Edited by Lexie Little

Featured image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics

Lady Vols lose to Auburn, drop third straight series

The Lady Vols’ (33-7) struggles continued, as they lost their weekend series with No. 11 Auburn on the road by a combined score of 9-2. Tennessee scored two runs in its first contest with the Tigers on Friday but went scoreless in the final two games of the series. The No. 8 ranked Vols now have an abysmal 5-7 record in SEC play this season.

Play seemed to be going Tennessee’s way to start the series on Friday. The Lady Vols put away Auburn by a score of 2-1 in eight innings. Sophomore Chelsea Seggern ripped an RBI single that finished as the game-winner for the Lady Vols in the top of the eighth inning.

The contest remained scoreless until Tennessee broke the silence in the sixth inning as senior shortstop Meghan Gregg drove in a runner off a ground out. Vols pitcher Matty Moss gave up a solo homerun from the Tigers in the seventh inning. She struck out three straight batters to get Tennessee out of the jam and send it to extra innings.

“It was a great game between two teams that are fighting for positioning in the SEC,” Vols co-head coach Ralph Weekly said. “Our kids played really hard in tough conditions and a hostile arena.”

The next matchup did not prove glamorous for Tennessee, as the Lady Vols fell victim to their own poor hitting. The Volunteers fell 2-0 and notched just one hit in the game. Moss didn’t get much help from her offense, as her two runs given up in the fourth inning defeated Tennessee.

Makayla Martin dominated for Auburn with six strikeouts and one hit given up in the complete-game. The Tigers’ only two runs came from a two-run homerun from the bat of Casey McCrackin.

The troubles in the batter’s box continued for the Lady Vols in the final game. Auburn once again held Tennessee scoreless. The Lady Vols only tabbed three hits in a 6-0 loss to Auburn. The duo of Moss and Caylan Arnold could not get the job done on the mound for the Vols, as they gave up a combined five earned runs on just four strikeouts.

A huge five-run fifth inning from the Tigers propelled them to their 37th win of the season. Auburn got sacrifice-fly to start in the scoring in the inning, as Alyssa Rivera drove a three-run homerun out of the park to finish their scoring for the evening.

Tennessee gets back to business on Tuesday with a road test in Columbia, Tennessee against in-state rival Memphis. The Lady Vols look to end their troublesome batting issues against a Tigers team that lost to East Carolina on Sunday.

Written by Seth Raborn

Edited by Lexie Little

Featured image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics

No. 4 Lady Vols sweep Rainbow Wahine Classic

Fourth-ranked Tennessee (30-1) went 6-0 in its trip to the Bank of Hawaii Rainbow Wahine Classic this weekend. The Lady Vols ended two of the six contests in early innings in the Aloha State.

The orange-and-white kicked off the Rainbow Wahine Classic with a 12-0 victory over Cleveland State (8-12) Wednesday. The Lady Vols capped the game in five innings. Tennessee wasted no time getting to business in the tournament, as they scored three runs in the bottom of the first inning. Seniors Meghan Gregg and Scarlet McSwain tallied an RBI, while outfielder Jenna Holcomb scored off a throwing error.

After the hot start, the Volunteers followed up with a total of nine runs in the next two innings to end the game. Caylan Arnold kept her undefeated pitching streak for Tennessee. She bumped her record to 12-0 on the season after tossing for three innings and three strikeouts.

Next, the Lady Vols squared off against North Dakota (14-14) in back-to-back matchups on Wednesday and Thursday.

In the first contest against Fighting Hawks, Tennessee won by a score of 5-0 after notching a 12-0 win over the Vikings earlier in the day. Junior infielder Aubrey Leach led the Vols with three hits on the afternoon, as sophomore Chelsea Seggern recorded two RBIs in the win.

Tennessee turned up the heat once again in the second game on Thursday, as they capped the game off with a grand slam from junior catcher Abby Lockman in the top of the sixth inning to mark a 14-2 win in the column. Gregg hit yet another impressive outing with three RBIs in the game.

Friday, Tennessee went on to face the host team in the fourth game of the weekend, as they battled Hawaii (14-12). Freshman pitcher Gabby Sprang recorded her fourth win for the Lady Vols on the mound this season after allowing just two hits in four innings.

Leach launched a solo shot to deep right-center to get the Tennessee on the board in the bottom of the first, and the Vols never looked back. Tennessee downed the Warriors 10-5 after scoring five runs in the sixth inning to seal the game. Seggern, Leach and outfielder Brooke Vines meshed for four RBIs in the win.

In the final games of the series, Tennessee faced the Maryland Terrapins (7-19).

The Lady Vols scored all seven of their runs in the final three innings of the game to top the Terrapins 7-1 on Friday. Arnold pitched brilliantly with six strikeouts in seven innings to keep her winning streak alive. McSwain and Lockman tallied four RBIs in the fifth inning to pull away from Maryland.

The game progressed smoothly for Tennessee on Saturday finishing with six runs in the seventh inning to win 10-0. Vols ace pitcher Matty Moss (13-1) and Arnold combined for 11 strikeouts in the series-ending win. Vines drove Holcomb with a single to center field to notch the final run of the day for Tennessee.

Tennessee will get back in action on Friday against South Carolina in Columbia for a three-game series.

Edited by Seth Raborn/Lexie Little

Featured image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics

 

No. 4 Lady Vols softball sweeps first SEC series

Fourth-ranked Tennessee (24-1) completed its first SEC sweep of the season Sunday against Missouri (16-9) at Sherri Lee Parker Stadium in Knoxville. The Lady Vols beat the Tigers by a combined series score of 25-7 and tallied their 16th straight win. Tennessee notched 35 hits in the sweep and dodged rain delays despite rough weather.

Things started slow for the Lady Vols in their first SEC game Friday. They recorded just three runs after six innings of play. However, former SEC Player of the Year Meghan Gregg broke through with a grand slam in the sixth inning to power Tennessee to a 7-4 win.

“The feeling of the ball coming off the bat was amazing,” Gregg said about the two-out grand slam. “You just know when it comes off the bat, you barely can even feel it.”

Sophomore pitcher Caylan Arnold contributed as well. She struck out eight batters in six innings pitched to get the win. Both Gregg and junior infielder Aubrey Leach batted 2-for-3 at the plate in the win.

The Lady Volunteers looked better Saturday. They shutout Missouri 7-0. Ace pitcher Matty Moss led Tennessee with seven strikeouts and no earned runs in four innings pitched. Freshman phenom Gabby Sprang finished out the contest with four strikeouts in three innings.

All Lady Vols scoring came in innings three through five, six combined runs coming in the third and fourth inning. Leach and senior outfielder CJ McClain both went a perfect 2-of-2 from the batter’s box on the day. Infielder Chelsea Seggern led Tennessee with two RBI.

Tennessee progressively improved over the weekend, finishing the weekend sweep by a score of 11-3 against the Tigers in just six innings. The Vols tallied 15 hits and got four RBI from both senior Scarlet McSwain and freshman Amanda Ayala.

“I think she is going to be an All-American. I don’t think there is a question,” Tennessee co-Head Coach Ralph Weekly said about Ayala. “It is going to take a while, but I think she has got all the tools. She can run, throw, hit and think.”

Tennessee played a huge third inning. They registered seven of their 11 runs in that inning. Missouri responded with a pair of runs the next inning, but the Lady Vols put more pressure on by scoring four runs to complete the run rule.

“We worked with those kids early this morning. We just got up and said we are going to hit a little bit and change your stance a little bit and it worked out,” Weekly said. “If we can hit through the lineup then this team will be pretty awesome.”

The Weeklys and Tennessee hit the field again in Honolulu at the Hawaii Rainbow Wahine Classic Wednesday.

Edited by Ben McKee/Lexie Little

Featured image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics

Lady Vols sweep Mary Nutter Classic

The 2018 Mary Nutter Classic in Cathedral City, California hosts some of the best softball talent every year. Each team that competes in the yearly classic has a chance to walk away undefeated or without a win. This year was no different.

Tennessee entered the tournament as the No. 11 team in the country with a 10-1 record. Coached by Ralph and Karen Weekly, the Lady Vols were a favorite to sweep their Nutter Classic schedule, and they did just that.

In their first game, Tennessee routed BYU 13-0. Defending SEC Player of the Year Meghan Gregg hit her second home run of the year, bringing in two runs in the top of the first. Ace pitcher Caylan Arnold finished the day with four strikeouts while only allowing three hits.

Tennessee then took on the Wildcats of Bethune-Cookman. In the second inning, junior Abby Lockman hit a solo homer over the right field fence to give Tennessee a 3-1 lead. Matty Moss picked up the win over the Wildcats after allowing one run and striking out four. The 7-1 victory kept the Lady Vols perfect on the first day of the classic.

On day two, Tennessee’s first game came against UC Davis. Much like their first game against BYU, the Lady Vols did not allow any runs to the Aggies. Tennessee didn’t waste any time scoring, as RBI’s from Chelsea Seggern and Scarlet McSwain gave the Lady Vols an early 2-0 lead. Matty Moss got the win and improved to 7-1 on the season.

The Vols face the Oregon State Beavers next. Arguably playing against their best competition so far in the classic, the Lady Vols looked to establish their dominance early.

Meghan Gregg blasted a 3 run home run in the top of the first to give the Lady Vols a 3-0 lead. Tennessee’s bats stayed cold until the fifth and sixth innings, when the Lady Vols scored three runs each. Tennessee beat Oregon State 9-3 and remained perfect in the classic.

Day three started with the toughest team that the Lady Vols face this season, the No. 2 Oregon Ducks.

Tennessee knew that if it wanted to win, the Lady Vols would have to score early. The only run in the game came from Jenna Holcomb after Gregg hit an RBI double in the bottom of the first. The Lady Vols beat Oregon 1-0 thanks to strong outings from pitchers Matty Moss and Caylan Arnold.

The sixth and final game of the Mary Nutter Classic for Tennessee came against Northwestern. Caylan Arnold carried the Lady Vols with a dominating pitching performance and her season high 13 strikeouts.

Arnold improved to 6-0 on the season after her performance against the Wildcats. Chelsea Seggern drove in three runs to push Tennessee to a 6-1 win on Saturday afternoon.

With the win, the Lady Vols remained perfect in the Mary Nutter Classic and showed the country how dominant they can be. They improve to 16-1 on the season and look to continue their streak. Their next game will come against Charleston Southern on Friday, March 2 in the Tennessee Invitational in Knoxville.

Edited by Seth Raborn

Feature image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics

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