KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – In its middle section of six games in three days, the No. RV/23/24 Tennessee softball team split its Sunday doubleheader with Miami (OH) at Sherri Parker Lee Stadium.
The Lady Vols (5-1) saw two stellar efforts in the circle, but were bested in game two by Miami’s (1-3) Courtney Vierstra.
Tennessee 7, Miami (OH) 3
Sophomore Callie Turner and freshman Bailey McCachren pitched by committee, giving up just three runs on five hits and sending six batters back to the dugout with nothing to show for their at-bats.
After a quiet and routine opening 2.5 innings, the Lady Vols struck first as senior Amanda Ayala smacked a double to left center and graduate senior Cailin Hannon scampered home from first base to give the Orange & White a 1-0 lead.
In the top of the fourth, the RedHawks immediately responded. After getting two runners on, shortstop Adriana Barlow went yard over the left center wall to give the other Miami three runs and a two-run lead at the midpoint of game one.
Following two quick innings of play, UT found its bats in the bottom of the sixth, exploding for six runs on five hits to take a 7-3 lead into the seventh.
“It was a big inning. The attitude in the dugout was great the entire game,” co-Head Coach Karen Weekly said. “There was a belief that we just needed to learn from each at-bat. Continue grinding and we would get it done. It’s gratifying to see that actually happen.
“I thought the kids had better at-bats. I thought we did a better job of not swinging at pitches outside of the zone. We tried to get a bit more behind the ball to actually drive the ball, rather than beating it into the ground. A couple of real key at-bats in that inning came from KK McCrary and Maddie Webber. I thought Maddie had a really nice day and I was really proud of some young players who had really nice days.”
Hannon followed Webber, giving new Miami pitcher Taylor Rathe a not-so-friendly introduction with a two-run blast that flew well over the bleachers in right center, giving Tennessee some much-needed insurance.
McCachren closed the door in the top of the seventh to give the Orange & White their fifth consecutive win to open the season.
Tennessee 0, Miami (OH) 2
The second contest of the afternoon was a pitchers’ duel, that saw those in the circle combine for 15 strikeouts.
Junior Ashley Rogers suffered her first loss of the season, but fanned six and gave up just two runs on five hits in a complete game effort.
She was outdone by Vierstra who retired the first 14 Lady Vol batters, struck out nine and gave up just three hits in a complete game shutout.
Miami struck first in the top of the third when Maclai Branson slapped a line drive single into the gap in right center, scoring Karlee Juarez, giving the Redhawks the early one-run advantage.
After three-and-a-half scoreless innings, Miami’s Kate Kobayashi doubled the Redhawks lead, with a lead-off with a homer to left field in the top of the seventh.
Vierstra shut the door in the bottom of the seventh, cementing the final score line.
Up Next: Tennessee gets right back to it with an afternoon doubleheader against Ohio tomorrow with first pitches set for 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. ET.