Tennessee softball bested No. 21 Georgia on Friday to improve to 34-7 (7-6 SEC) on the season. The Lady Vols’ 3-1 game one victory earned the Orange and White an 18-17 advantage in the all-time series against Georgia at Sherri Parker Lee stadium, and provides crucial momentum heading into tomorrow’s potential series-clinching game two.
It was a battle of pitching to start the top-25 matchup, one that was even and competitive throughout. Tennessee ace Ashley Rogers was uncharacteristically human in the first two innings, allowing three hits and one run to score just minutes into the game. Mary Wilson Avant of Georgia started strong in comparison, retiring Tennessee’s first three batters, 1-2-3.
Avant struggled in the second before returning to form soon after. Ashley Morgan’s first career hit against Avant came in the form of a towering solo home run to right field, tying the game at one apiece before a third and final out ended the inning.
Morgan was the player of the game for Tennessee. The senior infielder went 3-for-3 with two RBIs alongside her second inning moonshot off Avant. Morgan also had an excellent defensive outing, adding to a game defining defensive performance from the Lady Vols.
“(Morgan) had not had much success at all against Avant in her career,” Co-head coach Karen Weekly stated. “She’s one of the hardest workers on the team. She just goes about her business the right way, she’s everything you can ask for in a student-athlete and it’s always so satisfying to see that work pay off.”
While the pitchers painted corners, a generally strong defensive effort also contributed to this low scoring SEC matchup. The two teams posted zero errors in a collective effort with just 10 combined hits. The slow bats in the first couple innings were uncharacteristic for Tennessee, a team that leads the SEC in batting in several categories.
Georgia, however, is all too familiar with these low-scoring affairs. In their last seventeen games the Bulldogs have surpassed four runs just three times, with a less than ideal 4-10 record in such outings.
Despite the optimal pitching and a strong defensive effort, the bottom of the fifth was where the Lady Vols won the day. Ally Shipman handed the Bulldogs their first allowed triple of the season, one that would bring Chelsea Seggern home to give the Lady Vols a 2-1 lead. The next pitch was sent deep into left field by none other than Morgan to bring Shipman home and give Tennessee a 3-1 lead that would prove insurmountable by game’s end.
“They’re a dangerous team.” Weekly later explained. “You’re never feeling comfortable with them. You can have an eight run lead and you’re still wary of Georgia. All those runs (in the fifth) were critical.”
Tennessee looks to take the series tomorrow at 2 p.m. ET at Sherri Parker Lee stadium. Saturday and Sunday’s games against Georgia will both be nationally televised on ESPN2.