#7 TENNESSEE EARNS SECOND SEC SERIES SWEEP WITH 8-0 WIN OVER #23 SOUTH CAROLINA

(Courtesy / UT Sports)

#7 TENNESSEE EARNS SECOND SEC SERIES SWEEP WITH 8-0 WIN OVER #23 SOUTH CAROLINA

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The seventh-ranked Lady Vols earned their second SEC series sweep of the season Monday night with a six-inning run-rule victory over No. 23 South Carolina, 8-0, at Beckham Field.
 
Tennessee (26-4, 6-0 SEC) has now opened conference play 6-0 for the second consecutive season and for the second time in program history.
 
While the offense got things cranked up in the later innings, it was sophomore right-hander Karlyn Pickens who held firm in the circle in the early going.
 
South Carolina (22-10, 0-6 SEC) threatened to score in the second inning as it put runners on second and third with only one out. Pickens dug in and kept the Gamecocks off the scoreboard as she got a strikeout and ground out to end the frame.
 
Pickens settled in following the second, finishing the night with 10 strikeouts, two walks and just three hits. The Weaverville, North Carolina, native tossed her 10th complete game and earned her ninth shutout of the year en route to her 14th victory.
 
The bats came alive in the fourth as Destiny Rodriguez sparked a three-run inning with an RBI double. The Live Oak, Texas, native was 2-for-3 with a run scored. Sophia Nugent drove in the game’s second run on a sac fly before Laura Mealer knocked in UT’s third run on a double to center.
 
Mealer led Tennessee at the plate, going 3-for-3 with one run scored and a pair of RBIs.
 
The duo of Nugent and Mealer struck again in the sixth inning with Nugent knocking an RBI double to plate Rodriguez before Mealer singled to score Taylor Pannell – extending Tennessee’s lead to 5-0.
 
Nugent finished her night 2-for-2 with two doubles and two RBIs.
 
With two runners on in the sixth, Zaida Puni put the game away with a three-run blast – making the score 8-0. The home run was her seventh of the season.
 
Sage Mardjetko started in the circle for the Gamecocks, throwing 3.2 innings. She frustrated the Tennessee bats early but the Lady Vols ended up tagging her for three runs on five hits. Mardjetko fanned three and walked two in the loss.
 
Alana Vawter relieved her in the fourth and went 1.2 frames, allowing four runs on four hits with four strikeouts before she was lifted for Jori Heard.
 
Heard only faced four batters and gave up one run on two hits.
 
STAT OF THE DAY
Tennessee’s win Monday night extended its nation-leading win streak to 18 games. The Lady Vols also own the country’s third-longest road-winning streak with 10 consecutive wins away from home.
 
UP NEXT
Tennessee continues its SEC road swing as it heads down to The Plains for a three-game set at Auburn March 29-31.

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