Softball vs. Mercer

Jackie Kirkpatrick (50) bats against Mercer at Sherri Parker Lee Stadium. Thursday April 6, 2023.

Tennessee’s offense exploded in Sunday’s series finale in Lexington, as the No. 6 Lady Vols defeated Kentucky 15-1 in five innings. McKenna Gibson and Kiki Milloy each had two home runs in the win.

Milloy opened the game with a leadoff home run into center field to put Tennessee into the lead immediately. Lair Beautae walked and Gibson doubled as Tennessee continued to put pressure on the Wildcats. Zaida Puni plated Beautae with a base hit. A Rylie West sacrifice fly drove in Gibson for a third run in the top of the first. Tennessee starting pitcher Payton Gottshall sent the Wildcats down in order.

Katie Taylor led off the second inning with a double into left center before Amanda Ahlin walked. Taylor was out after a Beautae fielder’s choice. With two outs, Gibson drove in Ahlin and Beautae with a home run into left field, giving the Lady Vols a six-run lead. Kentucky’s first baserunner came with two outs from Jenna Blanton, who reached on a fielding error. Blanton was stranded after a groundout by Rylea Smith.

Sloan Gayan relieved Emily Lacatena in the circle after two innings of work. Gayan’s first allowed baserunner was Giulia Koutsoyanopulos, who walked with one out. Taylor was hit by a pitch with two outs in the inning. Both were stranded by an Ahlin groundout. Gottshall retired the Wildcats in order for a second time, recording her fourth strikeout of the afternoon in the process.

Milloy walked on four pitches to open the fourth inning. Beautae walked as well. Gibson hit her fourth home run of the week to drive in Milloy and Beautae. Following a Zaida Puni single, Kennedy Sullivan entered to pitch for Kentucky.  Rylie West singled and advanced to second, while pinch runner Shakara Goodloe moved to third base. Koutsoyanopulos walked to load the bases. Donihoo’s flyout allowed Goodloe to score before two strikeouts ended the inning.

Vanessa Nesby broke up Gottshall’s no-hitter in the fourth inning with a standup triple. Erin Coffel took a pitch to the elbow. Grace Lorsung’s flyout allowed Nesby to score and end Tennessee’s shutout bid. Gottshall recorded two straight outs to end the inning.

Milloy led off the fifth inning with her second home run of the afternoon to restore Tennessee’s ten-run advantage. Beautae walked and Gibson singled to continue to put pressure on the Wildcats, which caused Kentucky to put Taylor Hess in the circle. Puni reached on an infield single to load the bases. Pinch runners Jenna Mosley and Jamison Brockenbrough scored on a single from West.

Koutsoyanopulos’ flyout plated Puni. Donihoo hit an RBI double which allowed West to score. Pinch hitters Camryn Sarvis and Jackie Kirkpatrick both made outs to end the inning. Gottshall retired the Wildcats in order to finish the run-rule win.

Tennessee’s next contest will be on Tuesday against Kennesaw State, which was added to the schedule after weather cancellations earlier in Tennessee’s season.

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