Matty Moss stepped into the pitcher’s circle in the top of the seventh inning with two Lady Razorbacks runners on base and one out recorded. With the score 6-4, she would walk the first batter she faced to load the bases.
However, she would proceed to strike out back-to-back hitters for her third save of the season. The No. 5 Lady Vols (25-4, 3-1 SEC) defeated No. 15 Arkansas (21-8, 3-4 SEC) in the first of three games this weekend inside Sherri Parker Lee Stadium. It was the Lady Vols’ SEC home opener.
“We have some time to look at the film and get some kids hitting again,” co-head coach Ralph Weekly said. “…we will be better tomorrow but they will too.”
Going through their line-up for the first time on Friday, the Lady Vols could hardly come up with any offense against Arkansas starting pitcher Autumn Storms. That changed when leadoff hitter Aubrey Leach came up to the plate for the second time.
She worked the count full with only one out in the inning and then provided the Lady Vols first extra base hit of the day when she put the ball in play and was called safe at second base.
“We emphasize learning from our first at-bat,” Leach said. “… and it is important to learn quick enough because they are too.”
Amanda Ayala would hit a single and Leach would score in the next at-bat. Chelsea Seggern earned a walk in the following at-bat, but the Lady Vols could not capitalize the rest of the inning and only had one run on the board.
In the top of the fourth, Arkansas had one runner on and two outs. Ashley Diaz hit the ball over the fence for the first two Lady Razorbacks’ runs of the day.
The next half inning was fruitful for the Lady Vols, as Aubrey Leach came up to the plate and had another hit, this time for two RBIs on a single. With two outs, Seggern came to the plate again. This time she was looking to put the ball in play, hitting the ball for a single and two RBIs.
After Cailin Hannon added an insurance run in the bottom of the fifth, Arkansas would add to its total in the next half inning. The Lady Razorbacks had two runners cross the plate on three hits in the inning. Ashley Rogers was in a jam, but got out of the inning with two Lady Razorbacks left on base after getting a strikeout for the final out.
“Every game is a war in the SEC,” co-head coach Ralph Weekly said. “That is a very good and very improved team.”
Tennessee’s softball team had all three starting pitchers contribute in the game, but Ashley Rogers was credited with the win to give her a 10-1 record for 2019. She went for 5.2 innings, three hits, four runs, two walks and 10 strikeouts. Her team did not commit an error.
Tennessee is now 9-1 at home this season and will take on Arkansas again Saturday at 6:00 p.m.
“The SEC is such a challenge,” Leach said. “Every inning and every game (we) have to bring it no matter what.”