With a full count in the bottom of the second, Tennessee softball's Kiki Milloy sent a two run home run into the stands. The senior, and the country's leading home run hitter, pointed to her family as she rounded third.
Her parents got to watch on Saturday night as Milloy and the Lady Vols battled over seven hours of rain delays to run-rule Indiana 9-1 on Saturday.
"Just having both my parents here and just being able to look up in the stands and see them cheering me on and just hearing them, it feels great," Milloy said. "Knowing that I have all the support in the world from them, I love them."
Milloy put on a show for her parents early, hitting the second pitch of the game over the left centerfield wall. Mackenzie Donihoo joined the fun as well, hitting a two-run bomb out to right center.
Milloy hit her aforementioned two run bomb to extend the Lady Vols' lead to 5-0 heading into the top half of the third.
Rain started to come down in Knoxville as Tennessee's Ashley Rogers took the circle for the third. The ace was clearly struggling to grip the softball, asking for several new balls over the course of the inning.
Struggling with the deteriorating weather condtions, Rogers walked the bases loaded. Tennessee head coach Karen Weekly had never seen her ace walk three batters in an inning.
"I kept saying 'Hey, we need to stop this,'" Weekly said. "Before the game I made it very clear to the Shonda, umpires, we all talked about it at home plate. Rain should not affect a game of this magnitude at this point in the season at all. It shouldn't jeopardize their ability to compete to the best. It shouldn't jeopardize the safety of anybody."
Finally, with the bases loaded and two outs for Indiana, the teams were sent to the dugouts in a rain delay. The rain poured steadily as the game remained delayed for over five hours.
"I was a little perturbed that we didn't shut that thing down sooner because obviously she wasn't able to grip the ball," Weekly said.
When the Lady Vols finally retook the field over six hours after the first pitch was thrown, Rogers was thrust into a high-stress situation. Indiana had the bases loaded with two outs, threatening to cut into Tennessee's lead.
With a dry ball, Rogers got Tennessee out of the inning with a strikeout.
"Karen (Weekly) helped me a ton during the delay," Rogers said. "She lovingly told me to get out of my own way... Just staying locked in the right mindset to come back in and attack from the very first pitch because I know what they want to do, and I know what I want to do to get out of that situation."
The Lady Vols stayed quiet in the bottom half of the third, before putting the final nail in the Hoosiers coffin in the fourth.
After another half hour rain delay, the Lady Vols loaded the bases thanks to three walks. Rylie West hit a grand slam to centerfield, putting Tennessee up 9-1.
West's homer solidified a run-rule victory for the Lady Vols.
"I was like, 'What were you thinking?'" Milloy said she asked West. "She was like 'Just getting in there and hit it hard' because she knew that we need to get up there and get some runs on the board and put this game out as soon as possible."
The Lady Vols move on to Sunday's winner's bracket competition against the winner of Indiana and Louisville/Northern Kentucky. The game is slated for 4:35 p.m. ET, and the Lady Vols have to now lose twice to be eliminated.
Tennessee is set up to wrap up its home regional in dominant fashion after two run-rule victories.
"I think the confidence is there," Weekly said. "I don't worry about that, but I don't want us to get complacent. Run-rule victories don't mean anything for tomorrow... Expect that whoever we face, they're going to be a whole lot better than they were today or yesterday and we've got to come out and it's a clean slate and it's dog eat dog."
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