After a successful weekend sweeping Mississippi State and a record-breaking midweek game against in-state opponent ETSU, the No. 8 Tennessee softball team is heading into the series against the Georgia Bulldogs with momentum on their side.
While Tennessee is on a five-game winning streak, Georgia is also coming into the weekend with a huge win under its belt. The Bulldogs crushed their own in-state rival, Georgia Tech, 7-0 in a Wednesday night game.
Before its most recent win, Georgia was on a five-game losing streak after getting swept by No. 5/7 Alabama. The Bulldogs still remain 5-10 in the SEC and 31-14 overall.
“Their record right now, I don’t think speaks accurately for how talented they are,” explained co-head coach Karen Weekly. “Last year they were in the World Series, and right now, I know they don’t have a winning record in the SEC, but they’re a team that I think could get hot at any time.
“They've lost some close games, but this is just a league that can do that to you.”
The Lady Vols will be heavily relying on their diverse pitching game to bring home the victory against the Bulldogs. In the ETSU game, Ashley Rogers and Matty Moss combined for a no-hitter, the fifth in program history.
Rogers pitched 3.0 innings with eight strikeouts before Moss relieved her until the Buccaneers were run-ruled.
“Ashley is a very mature player for how young she is,” stated Moss. “I think earlier in the season (she had) natural jitters for being placed on a really big stage this early in her career, (which) would make anybody a little nervous. I just reassure her that it’s going to be OK and that if she needed me to come in those first couple of games, I was ready. Then she could take a minute and come back for the next game.”
Another Lady Vol that fans should be on the lookout for against Georgia is Haley Bearden who tallied two grand-slams in back-to-back innings against the Buccaneers. Bearden went from hitting one homerun in her junior year to a whopping 12 in her senior season.
While her teammates and coaches have always described her incredible at-bats in practice, this year is the first time Tennessee fans have been able to witness her skill as well.
“I think it’s just all about confidence and knowing you can do it,” explained Bearden. “Just going up there and trusting your preparation. It started in the fall; just seeing myself do it, knowing I can do it and not really thinking that much into it.”
Freshman Kaitlin Parsons could be an instrumental piece in this weekend’s series as well. She was tabbed as SEC Freshman of the Week after a strong performance against Mississippi State, posting a .571 batting average and plating four runs.
The Lady Vols are scheduled to face off against the Bulldogs in the three-game series beginning this Saturday, April 19 through April 21 in Athens, Georgia.