No. 17 Tennessee lost its series against No. 15 Missouri, winning Friday’s game but dropping Saturday and Sunday’s contests. Sunday’s matchup was Tennessee’s final regular season game.
The series against Missouri was one of Tennessee’s toughest opponents in recent weeks, with the Tigers being the first ranked opponent the Lady Vols have faced since Alabama in March.
“It was like a Super Regional type of weekend,” co-head coach Karen Weekly said. “That’s what we discussed coming into the weekend. Obviously if we were playing a Super Regional this weekend, we’d be the ones going home. We need to get ready for that, that’s what we’re about to get into.”
Ashley Rogers returned to the mound Sunday and had a shaky showing. Rogers recorded six strikeouts, but gave up five runs, including four in one inning.
Weekly had confidence in her ace even after a tough fifth inning.
“We don’t expect that Ashley is going to go out and throw a shut out like she did Friday night, we just want all of our pitchers to go out there and fight and give us a chance to win,” Weekly said. “There was really not thought to take Ashley out of that game.”
The Lady Vols were inconsistent at the plate on Sunday, with only five hits on the day. The team did have some high points, however, with three home runs on the day. Homers came from Amanda Ayala, Ally Shipman and Ivy Davis.
Missouri had a strong showing at the plate, with all five of its runs on the day coming from home runs.
Missouri is one of the top hitting teams in the SEC, and Weekly believes facing this kind of hitting will help going into SEC tournament.
“I think it just helps them understand that you can’t let your guard down at any moment,” Weekly said. “Those big hits, they can come really quick if you don’t make quick adjustments. Its part of the game that you’re going to give up a home run. What you hope is that you haven’t put anyone on ahead of them, let them be solo shots, and then rebound quickly and keep the damage at one.”
Tennessee’s series loss to Missouri comes after a midweek series loss against Mississippi State in a doubleheader on Wednesday.
“Nobody likes to lose, but we also understand the week we had,” Weekly said. “Its not an excuse but it’s a reality, we played eight games in a week, we had to travel to Mississippi State and we were in the middle of finals the whole time. As much as I think my girls take things in stride and do what they need to do, that was a tough week.”
Looking forward, the Lady Vols will now hit the road for the SEC tournament. The tournament will be in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, at Rhoads Stadium. Tennessee’s first game will be on Wednesday, the time and opponent of the game is to be determined. The Lady Vols have not won the SEC tournament since 2007.