After falling to Cal State Fullerton 5-4, Tennessee bounced back to defeat Liberty 5-1 Sunday. Two home runs by Kiki Milloy powered the Lady Vols to the win against the Flames, while the Titans were able to rally in the sixth inning to take the lead.
Ashley Rogers started in the circle for the Lady Vols against Cal State Fullerton. Rogers struck out two Titan batters as she sent the opposition down in order. She would allow two hits over the next two innings but maintained a scoreless tie for the Lady Vols.
Mackenzie Donihoo opened the account for the Lady Vols, hitting an RBI single to plate Amanda Ahlin. McKenna Gibson’s grounder advanced Donihoo to third base, but Zaida Puni’s long shot to center was caught at the wall by Megan Delgadillo, ending the third inning and limiting Tennessee’s lead to one.
Hannah Becerra hit a solo shot to left-center to level the game at one run each. Katie Taylor was able to knock a base hit into the outfield grass with two outs, but Destiny Rodriguez could not continue the rally.
Nicola Simpson entered to pitch the fifth inning for the Lady Vols. She walked the bases loaded with one out in the inning. Rogers re-entered the game to try to get out of the jam. A base hit by Delgadillo drove in a run, giving Tennessee its first deficit of the season. Becerra was hit by a pitch, adding another run for the Titans.
After a base hit from Ahlin, Milloy took the first pitch she saw over the right field fence, leveling the score at three. Bailey Wallace made a catch at the fence to prevent a home run from Donihoo. The Lady Vols could not get any more offense in the fifth inning, so the score remained tied.
Karlyn Pickens entered to pitch the sixth inning for Tennessee. She would allow her first career runs in the inning, as Daisy Munoz and Alexia Lopez both scored to add to the Titan advantage.
Milloy came to bat with the bases loaded and one out, trying to cut the Tennessee deficit. She flew out to right field, allowing Jamison Brockenbrough to score from third. Donihoo popped out to end the inning, forcing the Lady Vols to settle for only one run. Cal State Fullerton led by a run going into the seventh inning.
Although the Titans got two runners into scoring position, Karlyn Pickens was able to keep Cal State Fullerton off the scoreboard. The Lady Vols needed one run to tie and two runs to win.
Puni was able to earn a base hit with one out, bringing up Koutsoyanopulos, who also reached base. Brockenbrough struck out, meaning the last chance for Tennessee was Taylor. She was hit by the pitch, loading the bases. Destiny Rodriguez came up to the plate with the game on her bat. She struck out swinging, ending the game and giving the win to the Titans.
Milloy led off the second game with a home run to give the Lady Vols an early 1-0 lead. The Lady Vols did not get another hit from that half inning, but they still went to the bottom of the first with a lead. The game remained a one-run advantage into the third inning, where Milloy blasted a double into left-center. She would reach third base on a grounder but could not score.
Koutsoyanopulos hit a leadoff double to start the fourth inning. Ahlin bunted the runner to third base before Katie Taylor took a pitch on the elbow. Taylor stole second base to get a second runner in scoring position. Koutsoyanopulos was trapped in a rundown but was called safe at the plate due to an obstruction call, giving Tennessee a two-run advantage.
Payton Gottshall got the start for Tennessee, pitching five scoreless innings and throwing five strikeouts in those innings, including striking Liberty out in order in the fourth inning. Tennessee’s defense has helped this effort, both in the infield and outfield.
Kiki Milloy led off the fifth inning with her second home run of the night, adding to Tennessee’s advantage. Tennessee’s offense began to dry up, but the pitching remained strong for the Lady Vols.
Devyn Howard hit a home run into left-center to open the scoring for the Flames. This marked only the second hit of the night for Liberty, but it left the yard, cutting Tennessee’s lead to two. This was Gottshall’s first earned run of the season.
After Milloy is given an intentional pass, she scored on an RBI base hit from Puni. Koutsoyanopulos dropped an RBI single into the shallow outfield, adding more insurance for the Lady Vols. Liberty needed four runs to tie Tennessee.
Karlyn Pickens entered in the bottom of the seventh inning with a runner on first and one out. She only took one pitch, forcing Mary Claire Wilson to hit into a double play.
The Lady Vols will compete next in Tampa at the USF Invitational, including a meeting with No. 6 Clemson.
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