The Tennessee softball team broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the third inning after Mississippi State recorded two outs. Kaitlin Parsons had an RBI single to score Jenna Holcomb before the team left three runners stranded to end the inning.
The No. 9 Lady Vols (30-8, 8-5 SEC) went on to defeat the Mississippi State Lady Bulldogs (25-15, 3-10 SEC), 4-0, on Friday night at Sherri-Parker Lee Stadium. Three Tennessee players had hits in the game.
“They are a fierce hitting team,” co-head coach Ralph Weekly said. “…(Ashley) pitched an outstanding game.”
Here are three takeaways from the game:
Rogers’ dominant pitching
Tennessee freshman pitcher Ashley Rogers went the distance on Friday, giving her the eleventh complete game of the season and sixth shutout. She gave up two hits, no walks and recorded four strikeouts.
“I know I trust my pitches and I trust (the defense) fully,” Rogers said. “… I did not have a ton of strikeouts tonight, so they really performed.”
Fellow freshman Kaili Phillips was behind the plate against Mississippi State and brought a steady presence for Rogers.
“We work really well together and I love seeing (us) play to the standard (we) can play at,” Rogers said.
Offense comes through
The Lady Vols recorded five hits and four walks on Friday. Aubrey Leach picked up an RBI off a sacrifice fly and drew one of the walks.
Parsons was electric in the matchup, coming away with two hits, two RBIs and one run scored. She would score on the Leach sacrifice after she hit an RBI triple in the fifth inning.
The fourth run would come off senior Haley Bearden’s home run in the bottom of the sixth. It was her tenth of the season. She had a single and walk in two other plate appearances.
“(Bearden) is a great kid who did not see a lot of playing time her first three years,” Ralph Weekly said. “She is so strong in everything. If (her arms) get extended she can hit it out.”
Mississippi State’s power falters
The Lady Bulldogs brought two players to Knoxville who have combined for 39 home runs in 2019. Mia Davidson and Fa Leilua hit second and third in the line-up and would have three opportunities each against Rogers.
Neither player would get on base in the matchup on Friday. Both recorded fly outs in the first inning. Davidson hit an infield pop-up and Leilua hit one to the warning track.
In the next at-bat, Davidson worked the count full before flying out and Leilua grounded out.
In the top of the sixth with two outs, Davidson came out looking for contact. After fouling some pitches off, she hit a pop-up that came to the pitcher’s circle. In the top of the seventh, Leilua would battle back from two strikes to put the ball in play before the Lady Vols recorded the first out of the inning.
With the harsh part of the line-up out of the way, Rogers would make quick work of the remaining two batters and ended the game with a strikeout.
The result on Friday gives the Lady Vols a 12-4 record at home. They will play again on Saturday, hosting Mississippi State at 1:00 p.m.