Softball vs. Mercer

Guilia Koutsoyanopulos (27) waives teammate Kiki Milloy (9) home after a triple by Lair Beautae against Mercer. Thursday April 6, 2023.

For the second time this season, the Tennessee Lady Vols swept a series on the road, defeating Kentucky in each of the three contests. After winning an extra-inning thriller 2-1 on Friday, the Lady Vols won their next two contests by run rule, defeating Kentucky on Saturday and Sunday by respective score-lines of 10-2 and 15-1.

Even though the Lady Vols did not lose a game, their performance was by no means perfect. Here are three takeaways from the series in Lexington.

Milloy, Donihoo lead offense

Kiki Milloy and Mackenzie Donihoo each hit three home runs on the weekend. Combined with Lair Beautae’s Friday homer, the long ball accounted for 13 of Tennessee’s 27 runs on the weekend.

Milloy led off both Saturday and Sunday’s games with home runs in her first plate appearance. Her home runs helped spark offensive performances, which saw the Lady Vols cross into double-digits on both days.

McKenna Gibson hit three three-run home runs on the weekend, accounting for nine of her 10 series runs batted in. Gibson helped push the Lady Vols over the run-rule edge on Saturday, giving them their first eight-run advantage.

Milloy now has 18 home runs on the season, while Gibson added to her season tally which now sits at 13. As a team, Tennessee has hit 50 home runs this season in 39 games.

Free pass still an issue

Over the course of the weekend, Tennessee walked 10 batters and hit two, allowing 12 batters to reach base without hitting a ball in play. Although Payton Gottshall threw five innings on Sunday without allowing a walk, the problem remains heading into next weekend’s series with Florida.

Tennessee awarded the most free bases on Saturday, letting seven Wildcat hitters reach on balls and hitting two. The Lady Vols were lucky that Kentucky stranded 12 runners on base during the weekend, but allowing that many baserunners is not a sustainable strategy as conference play continues.

Lady Vols push towards SEC title

Now leading second-place Georgia by two games, Tennessee is pushing towards its first regular season SEC championship since 2007 and its first conference title of any kind since 2011. The series sweep of Kentucky helped Tennessee push farther ahead of the Bulldogs, who lost two of their three games against Florida on the weekend.

The upcoming series against the Gators will prove crucial toward winning the SEC regular season championship, as the Lady Vols and Bulldogs have separated themselves from the rest of the conference in the standings.

Before that series begins on Saturday, Tennessee will need to focus for a midweek contest against Kennesaw State on Tuesday. Although the Owls’ record of 13-28 does not look impressive at first glance, their wins do include a 5-3 victory over Alabama in Tuscaloosa in February.

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