Puni softball

University of Tennessee Lady Volunteers softball player Zaida Puni (11) louds up for a pitch during a game against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Sherri Parker Lee Stadium, March 26, 2023.

Tennessee lost its third game of the season, losing to Texas A&M 3-1 Saturday. The Aggie offense recorded three runs in the win, while Madison Preston threw six scoreless innings.

Lair Beautae was the first Tennessee hitter to reach base with a two-out walk, but Zaida Puni grounded out to end the inning. Julia Cottrill recorded a one-out base hit for Texas A&M in the first inning. After stealing second base, Cottrill scored on a misthrow from Giulia Koutsoyanopulos which reached the outfield.

McKenna Gibson was hit by a pitch from Preston to open the second inning. Rylie West also earned a base hit, but the Lady Vol offense stranded two runners. Tennessee starting pitcher Karlyn Pickens sent the Aggies down in order, including two consecutive strikeouts to begin her second inning of work.

Preston struck out the side in the top of the third inning, which included Kiki Milloy striking out for the second straight at-bat. Amari Harper reached due to a fielding mistake by Gibson and stole second base soon thereafter. Keely Williams drove Harper in with an RBI triple.

Gibson recorded a one-out single in the top of the fourth inning, but Koutsoyanopulos grounded into a 5-4-3 double play to conclude the half inning. Aiyanna Coleman walked to open the bottom of the fourth inning, which caused head coach Karen Weekly to move to Nicola Simpson in the circle. Simpson recorded three consecutive outs to quiet the Aggie bats.

Preston sent the Lady Vols down in order in the top of the fifth inning. Allie Enright reached on a base hit to open the bottom of the fifth. Harper gave the Aggies a second baserunner with no outs. With some help from her defense, Simpson recorded three consecutive outs to hold the Texas A&M lead to two through five innings.

For a second time in the afternoon, the top of Tennessee’s order was sent down consecutively, with Donihoo and Milloy both striking out. Charli Orsini entered to pitch the sixth inning and recorded a strikeout before allowing Rylen Wiggins a free pass. Wiggins stole second base during the next at-bat, which ended with Wiggins advancing to third on a productive out. Koko Wooley hit an RBI single to drive in Wiggins off of Orsini’s glove. A popout to Donihoo held the Aggie lead to three.

Puni walked on four pitches to open the seventh inning. Emily Leavitt entered the game to pitch and walked Gibson. Koutsoyanopulos loaded the bases after being hit by a pitch. Brockenbrough drove in a run on a fielder’s choice. West loaded the bases after being hit by a pitch, but Katie Taylor struck out to make the second out of the inning. Donihoo grounded into a fielder’s choice to end the contest.

The Lady Vols and Aggies will play for the series win on Sunday.

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