KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The No. 4/7-ranked Tennessee softball team pushed its win streak to 11 straight on Sunday as it defeated Jacksonville State 2-0 and Belmont 7-1 on the final day of the Tennessee Classic from Sherri Parker Lee Stadium.
Tennessee (16-1) was once again dominant in the pitcher’s circle, surrendering just six hits on the day while amassing 26 strikeouts. The Lady Vols’ pitching staff helped extend UT’s shutout streak to nine consecutive games – the longest such streak since 2006 – with the shutout of Jacksonville State in game one.
In game two, Belmont snapped the streak as it pushed across one unearned run in the sixth. In total, the Lady Vols held their opponents scoreless for 58 consecutive innings.
Game One: #4 Tennessee 2, Jacksonville State 0
Tennessee’s duo of Nicola Simpson and Ashley Rogers stifled the Gamecocks’ offense, shutting them out for the second time this weekend. The game was dominated by each team’s pitching staff as neither side surrendered a run through five and a half innings.
Simpson got the start for Tennessee, throwing three shutout innings and limiting the JSU offense to a pair of hits. Rogers came on in relief and was outstanding, striking out nine over four innings of work. The Athens, Tennessee, native picked up the victory – her fifth of the year.
Tennessee broke the deadlock in the bottom of the sixth as sophomore McKenna Gibson smoked a go-ahead RBI double down the right field line, sending senior Mackenzie Donihoo racing home from first base to score the game’s opening run.
Later in the inning, pinch-runner Brylee Mesusan added an insurance run as she stole home.
JSU’s Jaliyah Holmes threw a complete game, allowing two runs on two hits, walking three and striking out four. She suffered the loss and fell to 4-3 on the year.
Game Two: #4 Tennessee 7, Belmont 1
Tennessee jumped out in front of Belmont early as Donihoo blasted a leadoff homer over the wall in left-center to open the bottom of the first inning. The big fly was her first of the season.
The Lady Vols added to their lead in the third, pushing across four runs on three hits and a Belmont error. After a Donihoo walk and steal, senior Kiki Milloy doubled to left center to push her across the plate.
Gibson then knocked a single through the right side of the infield to score Milloy. UT tacked on two more runs as Jamison Brockenbrough singled up the middle to plate Shakara Goodloe and Rylie West.
Milloy tallied her second RBI of the night in the fourth with a sacrifice fly – scoring Amanda Ahlin from third – extending the lead to 6-0.
After Belmont snapped Tennessee’s shutout streak with a run in the top half of the sixth, Milloy struck again in the home half of the inning with her 10th home run of the season – fourth of the weekend – to secure UT’s final margin of victory at 7-1.
Senior Payton Gottshall got the start versus the Bruins and struck out the first nine hitters she faced. The Massillon, Ohio, native allowed just a pair of hits over four innings, while totaling a season-high 12 strikeouts. The righty earned the win, improving to 5-0 on the year.
True freshman Karlyn Pickens came on in relief of Gottshall and tossed the final three innings of the night. She gave up one hit and one unearned run, while fanning five Belmont batters.
Tennessee continues its homestand Wednesday night as it welcomes Tennessee Tech to SPL for a mid-week showdown. First pitch is slated for 6 p.m. ET.