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

Opinion: All Time Low rocks The Mill and Mine

Let me take you back to 2012 when Psy’s “Gangnam Style” took over the charts, “The Avengers” movie fought its way up box office ranks and Barack Obama won re-election. At the same time, a middle school version of myself listened to a band called All Time Low. I’d heard of the band before, but this marked the time I dug deeper into the music.

After years of listening to their music, keeping up with the lives of band members and watching music videos on repeat, I scored the opportunity to attend my first All Time Low show. Better than that: I met the band Monday, April 9.

That night, the band performed at Knoxville’s The Mill and Mine alongside opening acts Dreamers and Gnash. The venue filled with longtime fans and newcomers – all there to celebrate a shared love of great music.

The Meet and Greet allowed 84 lucky fans to take a photo and talk with band members Alex Gaskarth, Jack Barakat, Zack Merrick and Rian Dawson before the show.

“Do not say something stupid,” I said to myself as I stood in line. I anxiously awaited my turn, and as I rounded the corner, I could not help but to break into a ridiculous grin.

I hugged each of the guys and told them I had listened to their music from middle school until now. They asked if I attended school in Knoxville, and I promptly cheered “Go Volunteers!”

I gladly volunteered my time to listen to their music.

All Time Low’s music, often categrorized as “pop punk,” can be compared to bands like Fall Out Boy, 5 Seconds of Summer and blink-182. Like other bands, their music evolved a great deal but continues to please fans old and new. Enduring music makes for a great band, and the opening acts sounded like they will also please crowds for years to come.

Dreamers and Gnash, both great openers, warmed up the crowd with a mix of new and old music. Both thanked All Time Low for bringing them on Part II of “The Young Renegades Tour.” Gnash’s performance his hit song “i hate u, i love you,” which peaked in the top 10 on the Billboard charts in 2016, lived up to the hype as a crowd favorite.

I never imagined I would meet a band whose music I had loved since before I turned 13-years-old, let alone stand front row for the concert. From my front row position, I immersed myself in nostalgia as the band performed hits from at least five of seven studio albums including “Somewhere in Neverland,” “Lost in Stereo” and “Dirty Laundry.”

This concert marked the first time All Time Low has played in Knoxville in the band’s 15-year history. The guys released their most recent album, “Last Young Renegade,” in mid-2017. The release came after a move from Hopeless Records to Fueled By Ramen early last year, as Alex Gaskarth mentioned in an interview with Alternative Press.

My middle school dreams came to fruition with good friends and good music. As a group, we laughed at their jokes, fittingly cried during “Therapy” and begged the band to throw guitar picks our way. The band left Knoxville after the show, continuing on with the rest of the tour. But, they left me quoting the song “Good Times.”

“I’ll hate the goodbye, but I won’t forget the good times.”

I hit an all time high.

Thanks for stopping by, All Time Low. I hope we meet again.

 

Featured Photo: Ainsley Kelso

Edited by Lexie Little

Tennessee falls to ETSU in midweek contest

After the opening weekend of SEC play, Tennessee returned home to Lindsey Nelson Stadium to take on the ETSU Buccaneers (11-6). The Volunteers (13-9) lost their second matchup with the Bucs by a score of 9-6 on Tuesday night. The orange-and-white lost the first contest against ETSU March 3 by a score of 10-9.

After a strong start by freshman Sean Hunley on the mound, Tennessee got its bats going early, driving in four runs in the bottom of the first inning. Sophomore shortstop Andre Lipcius drove in second baseman Jay Charleston for the first score of the game. Freshman left fielder Brandon Trammell rounded out the first inning with a three-run homerun to give the Vols a comfortable 4-0 lead.

Despite a strong first inning, the Volunteers struggled for the rest of the game. Charleston drove in the two final runs for Tennessee in the fourth and sixth innings, scoring senior Brodie Leftridge. Charleston finished the game with two RBI’s on 4-of-5 hitting from the plate.

Volunteers head coach Tony Vitello hesitates to use the word “revenge” when competing against a team for a second time following a loss.

“We don’t use that word at all,” Vitello said. “We needed to come here and play better and get Sunday’s loss out of our mind.”

Hunley pitched four innings and struck out five batters. He allowed seven hits and three runs on the night. His streak of more than 22 scoreless innings pitched snapped in the third inning with a three-run homerun from the Bucs.

Sophomore Will Heflin replaced Hunley for the Vols in the fourth inning. Heflin gave up five runs in just two innings of work. He ultimately picked up the loss in Tuesday’s game.

Vitello raved about Trammell after he logged three RBI’s in two hits.

“He was great, and I think he was great in pregame,” Vitello said. “I thought he had a little extra bounce in his step and was walking with his chest out instead of being hesitant.”

Tennessee gave up four runs in the seventh inning after multiple errors. ETSU scored three unearned runs without tallying a hit in the inning.

Jay Charleston attributed the errors to fatigue.

“I think we might have come out a little tired from the weekend,” Charleston said about the defensive miscues and lack of focus.

Tennessee opens its SEC home schedule with Alabama this weekend. The three-game series is set to start at 6:30 p.m. ET on Friday night.

Written by Cole McCormick

Edited by Seth Raborn/Lexie Little

Featured image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics

No. 16 Tennessee dominates Mississippi State on the road

No. 16 Tennessee (22-7, 12-5 SEC) dominated a red-hot Mississippi State team on Tuesday night in Humphrey Coliseum, 76-54. The Vols were virtually unstoppable in the second half of the game, knocking down 11 consecutive field goals at one point.

Before dropping Tuesday’s bout to the Vols, Mississippi State had won its previous three games and seven out of the last 10.

Considered to be one of the hottest teams in the league, the Bulldogs made it tough for the Vols at the beginning of the game, jumping out to a 25-18 lead in the first half.

Admiral Schofield, who served as the co-SEC player of the week coming off of a career-high 24 points, once again proved to be one of the key players behind Tennessee’s success this season.

Schofield matched last weeks point total with 24 and also added seven rebounds and a block with 33 minutes of game time.

Schofield finished Saturday’s contest against Ole Miss with 35 minutes, proving to be one of the most durable players on Rick Barnes’ team.

Previous to its loss to Tennessee on Tuesday evening, Mississippi State was 18-1 at home this season and its only loss was to then-No. 22 Auburn.

The close game continued into the second half as the Bulldogs were down only four points closing in on the first media timeout.

Barnes’ team began to light up the scoreboard, shooting 15-of-22 in the second half of the contest.

“We got some real good execution playing inside out,” Barnes said. “When we move the ball and play together, we’re capable of (doing what we did tonight).”

Lamar Peters, the player who shared co-SEC player of the week last week with Admiral Schofield, was bested by Schofield in the game, getting outscored 24-7. Peters finished the game 3-of-10 with a turnover.

Lamonté Turner played a big role in the game for the Vols, especially from outside the arc. Turner nailed two three pointers and logged 29 minutes off the bench, finishing a perfect 4-for-4.

Turner knows his head coach is looking forward to the SEC tournament but isn’t taking road wins for granted at this point in the season.

“Coach Barnes didn’t complain about anything after the game,” Turner said. “I’m kind of worried about him, he must be sick or something.”

The Orange-and-White will face Georgia on Saturday for their Senior Day to honor the lone senior on the team, James Daniel III.

With the win, Tennessee ties Auburn for first place in the SEC at 12-5.

James Daniel III finished with three points on 1-of-1 shooting against Mississippi State and his only make came when he connected on a deep bomb which banked in from deep outside the three-point line with the shot clock running down.

Edited by Ben McKee

Feature image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics

Davis and Russell shine on Senior Day, take down No. 7 South Carolina

On a day where a trio of Lady Vols were celebrated, freshman Rennia Davis shined the brightest.

Following a rough first half on the offensive end of the floor, Davis sparked No. 15 Tennessee to a 22-4 run to begin the second half on its way to a 65-46 upset win over No. 7 South Carolina.

“Rennia (Davis) had a great game,” Lady Vols head coach Holly Warlick said following the game. “She is just so solid right now. She does things to get her easy looks. She gets position. She had 10 rebounds and five on the offense boards which allowed her to score.”

The Florida native chipped in nine points in the third quarter alone to spark her team on the offensive and defensive end of the floor. Davis drilled a deep three-pointer from the corner as time expired to cap an explosive third quarter from the Lady Vols (23-6, 11-5 SEC) in which they out-scored South Carolina 29-9.

“We didn’t even run the play right,” Davis said after the big win. “I was just happy the shot went in, really. I just think it was a spark for us along with the defense. I think we started hitting shots in the third quarter. Obviously, that was a big shot for us.”

Davis would go on to finish with 18 points and 10 rebounds, recording her eighth double-double of the season. She now sits sixth on the list for most double-doubles recorded by a Lady Vol freshman.

Along with Davis’ nine first half points, senior Mercedes Russell helped carry Tennessee in opening half to keep the Gamecocks (23-6, 12-4 SEC) within reach.

With her mom in Knoxville for the first time to watch her play, Russell scored eight points on 3-of-6 shooting from the floor in the first half on her way to her 14th double-double of the season. Russell, a native of Oregon, finished with 16 points and 12 boards on the afternoon.

“It was awesome,” Russell said of her mother being in the stands. “Obviously, a lot of emotion just being the last home game as a senior in the SEC. Hopefully we get to host in the NCAA (tournament). She was excited, obviously very emotional like I said, but really happy.”

Defense wasn’t the problem in the first for the Lady Vols, as they were able to hold South Carolina to just a 26-21 halftime lead despite shooting 27 percent and turning the basketball over 10 times.

Strong defense play continued over into the second half, which led to good looks on the offensive end that allowed Tennessee to shoot 65 percent in the third quarter.

“We made some adjustments and attacked the basket; that’s what we did, and our defense got going,” Warlick said. “Our players love to press. I don’t have to beg them to press.”

If you look at the stat line, Jaime Nared – the other piece to the dynamic senior duo with Russell – didn’t have greatest of games. But according to Warlick, Nared’s impact was felt far beyond the stat sheet.

“Her (Nared) presence on the press, it’s just awesome,” Warlick said of Nared. “That got the momentum to go our way, just by her presence on the ball.”

Nared’s defensive presence allowed Tennessee to start the second half on a 14-0 run that ultimately grew into a 22-4 run, thanks to five South Carolina third quarter turnovers.

“Live ball turnovers and rebounding,” Gamecocks head coach Dawn Staley said when asked if turnovers were the biggest issue for South Carolina in the third quarter. “They just out-hustled us.”

South Carolina was without All-American and two-time SEC Player of the Year, A’ja Wilson, who missed Sunday afternoon’s game due to vertigo. It was the second straight game against Tennessee in which Wilson did not play due to injury. Wilson missed the Jan. 14 game in Columbia against the Lady Vols due to injury, a game in which Tennessee won 86-70.

As for now, the Gamecocks are in wait-and-see mode as to if Wilson will play in the SEC Tournament.

“I’ll be on bended knees, hoping that she will be back Friday,” Staley said when asked about when Wilson is expected to be back. “I don’t know. I think, first and foremost, is her health and making sure that she is healthy. We are going to take it day-by-day.”

South Carolina kicks off its SEC Tournament run Friday evening, in what could be its third game against the Lady Vols this season. Tennessee who is a No. 7 seed in the tournament, will face ten-seed Auburn on Thursday night at 7 p.m. ET. The winner would face the Gamecocks the next day.

“I hope we get to play them (South Carolina),” Warlick said when asked on the possibility of playing the Gamecocks in the SEC Tournament. “Auburn is who we are looking at (first). We’ve, at time, struggled with Auburn.

“They (Auburn) press. We press too, so it could be an up-and-down, fun game to watch, or it could be two teams struggling to get it past half court.”

Davis, who will be playing in the tournament for the first time, is excited to prove not only herself, but her team’s worth with the NCAA Tournament right around the corner.

“When we’re getting defensive stops, and we’re running in transition, we’re one of the better teams in the SEC,” Davis said. “When we sag off and play casual on defense, it’s not as good for us. Going into the tournament, I think for us, we just gotta stay defensive minded as a team.”

Edited by Seth Raborn

Feature image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics

Takeaways from No. 18 Tennessee’s loss to Georgia

No. 18 Tennessee (19-7, 9-5 SEC) experienced another upset Saturday night in a game against Georgia (15-11, 6-8). The Vols never held a sturdy lead at any point. Here are the takeaways from Tennessee’s 73-62 loss in Stegeman Coliseum.

Pretenders or contenders?

National and local media hyped up the Vols in recent weeks.

Some claimed the Vols could land a No. 1 seed in the upcoming NCAA tournament, but Tennessee hasn’t been performing well since the hype began.

After dropping a road game to Alabama, the Vols followed it up with a terrible loss in front of a sold out Georgia crowd. If Tennessee wants to be a contender and not a pretender, it will have to learn to win big conference road games.

Tennessee started the season hot, winning neutral-site games over Purdue and NC State, but if this team wants to be a top-3 seed, it will have to learn how to pull out rivalry wins.

Young Vols will learn to put pressure on opponents

Down two points with under five minutes to go in the second half, coach Rick Barnes was unimpressed with his team’s decision making.

The Vols elected to take a three-pointer instead of putting pressure on the Bulldogs.

“Some of those 3’s at the end of the game, we still have time,” Barnes said. “It’s just being selfish and not understanding the game. When a team misses the front end of a one-and-one … just go down and get a point back, opposed to trying to heave up a desperation shot.”

Although Barnes was upset with his young team, he praised the Bulldog’s effort and the way they played.

“Gotta give them credit, last five minutes of the game they beat us,” Barnes said. “Any way you wanna beat somebody, they beat us.”

This team needs a star, and Barnes has his pick

Grant Williams consistently anchors inside for this Tennessee squad, and Barnes holds the bar high for his sophomore forward.

“We’re gonna see if he’s the player he wants to be. This is the time of the year where key guys step up and they play,” Barnes said. “He wasn’t very good with his defensive coverage. He didn’t execute that the way we wanted him to.”

Williams posted only five points in 25 minutes on the night for Tennessee. The Bulldogs held Williams to 1-of-8 shooting and only four rebounds.

Kyle Alexander, on the other hand, anchored Tennessee on the night, posting his second career double-double with 10 points and 13 boards.

If Tennessee wants to make a deep run, it will need both Kyle Alexander and Grant Williams to show up in the same night.

Edited by Ben McKee

Feature image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics