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

Lady Vols sweep LSU in Knoxville

In a weekend series, the No. 10 ranked Tennessee Lady Vols won all three games against the LSU Tigers. Tennessee moves to 37-8 on the season. The Lady Vols are now on a four-game winning streak after their big weekend in Knoxville.

Friday welcomed the first game of the series, with Caylan Arnold taking the stripe for Tennessee. Arnold pitched 6.1 innings while striking out six batters and allowing two runs on eight hits. With the win, Arnold moved to 16-4 on the season.

Hot bats led the Lady Vols to victory, starting with a Meghan Gregg solo homerun in the first inning. Gregg became the all-time homerun leader in Tennessee softball history with 52 longballs.

“I thought we did a good job sticking to our game plan,” Co-head coach Karen Weekly said. “The kids were excited about Meghan Gregg breaking that record. That’s a record that’s stood for a long time, and I think as coaches we weren’t sure it would ever be broken.”

Saturday featured a double header, with game two of the weekend starting at 1 p.m. at Sherri Parker Lee Stadium. In game two, Matty Moss got the start for the Lady Vols. Moss pitched 6.2 innings while striking out four batters and allowing two runs on four hits. Moss moved to 16-3 on the season with the win.

Tennessee’s first two runs of the game came on two errors committed by the Tigers. Junior infielder Aubrey Leach got on base in the first inning after a walk and advanced by stealing second. She then headed to third base due to a wild pitch. Leach eventually scored on a passed ball. Leach also scored the second run for the Lady Vols after another error in the third inning. Tennessee went on to win the game 3-2.

In the final game of the weekend, Arnold got the start for the Volunteers. Arnold pitched five innings and only allowed two runs on five hits. She improved her record to 17-4 on the season. Tennessee fell behind early. LSU scored two runs in the first three innings. With a Scarlet McSwain bases-clearing double in the third, Tennessee tied the game at 2-2.

After being knotted up at 4-4 in the seventh inning, the final game of the series went into extra innings. In the bottom of the eighth inning, junior Haley Bearden hit a walk-off home run to give the Lady Vols the 6-4 win over the Tigers. The home run marked the first walk-off winner in Bearden’s Tennessee career.

Bearden tried to focus to get the win.

“I was trying to be calm and not make it any bigger than it is,” Bearden said. “We didn’t have any outs and I got up there and saw the ball well and I swung.”

The series win over the Tigers marked the first for the Lady Vols since sweeping Missouri in March.

The next game for Tennessee will be against ETSU on Tuesday at 6 p.m. ET in Knoxville. The next series for the Vols will come against Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama starting April 20. Game one against the Tide is set for 5:30 p.m. ET Friday night.

 

Written by Cole McCormick

Edited by Seth Raborn/Lexie Little

Featured image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics 

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

Vols dominated by Gamecocks in SEC opener

Tennessee’s hot start to 2017 couldn’t distract from the looming question hanging over its head:

Could the young pitching staff hold up in the SEC?

So far, only one game into the young SEC season, the answer is no.

Freshman pitcher Caylan Arnold struggled in her SEC debut for the Vols, as Tennessee (19-3, 0-1 SEC) was dominated by South Carolina (18-5, 1-0 SEC), 9-1, at home on Friday evening.

“This was a pitch selection game,” co-head coach Ralph Weekly said. “They (South Carolina) were very cautious of their pitch selection…we were not cautious. We were not cautious. We were swinging at balls outside of the zone. Really, the whole game boiled down to… that four-run blast in the second inning.”

Between Arnold and Kelsey Morrion, Tennessee walked seven Gamecock batters on Friday night. The most costly set of walks came in the top of the second inning, when Arnold struck Shannon Plese after walking the previous two batters.

This left the bases loaded for South Carolina’s leadoff hitter, Kaylea Snear, who made the Maryville native pay with a booming grand slam, giving the Gamecocks an early 4-0 lead.

The Vols managed to load the bases twice during their comeback bid, but mustered only a single run from both opportunities. Second baseman Aubrey Leach said the team needs to focus on timely hitting, but gave full credit to South Carolina after Tennessee totaled three hits and left 10 on base. Leach drew three walks on Friday, while freshman Chelsea Seggern was the only Vol who managed to score.

“South Carolina is a great team defensively, and they had a great pitcher out there,” Leach said.

The Gamecocks knocked Arnold out of the game in the top of the third after Victoria Williams blasted a two-run shot. In 2.2 innings of work, Arnold (8-3) allowed six earned runs, walked five batters and struck out two. Morrison pitched the final 3.1 innings of the match, allowing three earned runs. South Carolina finished off Tennessee in the sixth inning after Krystan White slapped a two-run single to right center. White was later driven in by Tiara Duffy.

Despite suffering their first home loss of the season, Weekly remains optimistic.

“It’s one game and I know every game is important, but it’s one game,” Weekly emphasized. “…we knew what was wrong. We also knew we were young coming in and our leaders didn’t have great games themselves…we just gotta come out tomorrow, flush it and get right back at it.”

The Vols face the Gamecocks in the second game of the three-game series on Saturday. First pitch is slated for 1 p.m. ET.

Edited by Robert Hughes

Featured image by Hayley Pennesi, courtesy of Tennessee Athletics

Tennessee uses depth to run-rule its way over Delaware

Photo by Brad Blackwelder.

In a sense, Ralph Weekly actually finds non-conference games more challenging than games in the SEC.

“In a conference game, you come out, you play your best kids, you win or lose,” Weekly said. “In mid-week (games) and in tournaments, you have to decide which games am I gonna try to get a lot of kids in. We’ve got some really good kids on the bench and we’ve played a lot of close games, so we haven’t had a chance to get them much playing time.”

With the injection of younger players in the lineup, Tennessee (18-2) fell victim to early hiccups. Eventually, the Vols used their depth — as well as Chelsea Seggern’s hot bat — to nab their 10th run-rule victory of the season, 10-2, over the Delaware Blue Hens (2-12) on Sunday. The win capped off a perfect 5-0 performance for the orange and white during the Tennessee Invitational.

Weekly’s plan of providing as many players as possible with valuable experience was evident when Kelsey Morrison received the nod in the circle. Until Sunday, the sophomore had only appeared in four games, made one start and pitched 4.2 innings.

It wasn’t a flawless showing from the young pitcher. After escaping the first inning unscathed, Morrison allowed a solo home run and a line drive at the top of the second. After issuing a walk early in the third inning, Morrison was pulled for Matty Moss. The decision paid dividends, as Moss (10-0) allowed only one hit over 2.1 innings of work.

“We kinda got discombobulated early on,” Weekly said. “We weren’t our actual smooth-running self… we wanted to give Kelsey some more time on the mound, but we definitely didn’t want to lose to these guys (Delaware). Nothing against them, I’m just talking about where they are.”

First baseman Haley Bearden also received rare at-bats, but she made the most of her opportunity. The sophomore from Clarksville, Tennessee, recorded her first career multi-hit game and put the Vols ahead 4-2 during the bottom of the third after an RBI single. Later in the inning, her stolen base attempt at second forced an errant throw by Delaware catcher Anna Steinmetz, allowing Seggern to steal home and increase Tennessee’s lead to three.

In total, after scoring four runs over the previous nine innings, the Vols scored four runs in an explosive third inning that busted the game wide open.

“We just figured out the pitcher,” Seggern said of her team’s improvement on offense in the third inning. “… now, we’re just sitting and waiting for (the right) pitch.”

Less than 24 hours after delivering a game-winning RBI for Tennessee against Jacksonville State, Seggern went 3-for-3 from the plate on Sunday and drove in a pair of runs. Her first RBI gave the Vols a 1-0 lead in the first inning.

The Tennessee Invitational has been a coming-out party of sorts for the freshman out of Thrall, Texas. Seggern finished the tournament batting 9-of-15 with seven RBIs in a span of five games over a three-day period.

“I feel like I’m having a good plan when I go up to the plate,” Seggern said. “Me and Karen (Weekly) talk about some things and I’m executing and what I’m supposed to do.”

Seggern’s second RBI came in the fourth inning when she doubled to left center, scoring Abby Lockman all the way from first base. Shortstop Meghan Gregg helped Tennessee bolster its run-rule effort with a fifth-inning single that drove in two runs and put the Vols ahead, 8-2. After Tennessee grabbed a 9-2 advantage off a wild pitch, Taylor Rowland drove in the game-winning run with a single down the left side.

The Vols have one more non-conference game before SEC play finally begins. Tennessee takes on Campbell tomorrow at Sherri Parker Lee Stadium. First pitch is slated for 5 p.m. ET.

Edited by Quinn Pilkey

Featured image by Brad Blackwelder