Softball vs. Mercer

Lair Beautae (2) is congratulated by teammates after hitting a homerun against Mercer at Sherri Parker Lee Stadium. Thursday April 6, 2023.

Comebacks on Sunday and Monday evenings saw Tennessee sweep Florida at Sherri Parker Lee Stadium. The series began on Saturday with a 9-1 run-rule win, while the series victory was earned on Sunday in an 11-10 thriller. The Lady Vols completed the sweep on Monday evening by earning a 10-6 win over the Gators.

Here are three takeaways from the weekend that was.

Two comebacks in two nights

The Lady Vols pulled off two multi-run comebacks on Sunday and Monday, overcoming six and four run deficits respectively.

“(Sunday) night was huge for them to prove to themselves that we can come back and we can win the game,” head coach Karen Weekly said following Monday’s win. “The energy never wavered and the belief never wavered. When you keep playing the game the right way, regardless of the results, you are going to be rewarded for that.”

Trailing 9-3 in the bottom of the fifth inning, Kiki Milloy hit a home run to cut the Gator lead to five. In the bottom of the sixth, the Tennessee offense rallied to score seven, jumping into the lead.

“Kiki is our emotional leader,” Weekly said after Sunday’s game. “She led us from the very beginning, and everybody followed her. They all buy in. I’m just so proud of the team and how they came together tonight.”

The offense had significantly more time to make Monday’s comeback happen, as the Lady Vols trailed 5-1 after an inning and a half. Tennessee immediately took off, scoring three runs in the bottom of the second before two more three-run innings in the fourth and fifth.

Gottshall impresses in all three games

Payton Gottshall played a pivotal role in each of the three games this weekend. In Saturday’s series opener, she relieved Ashley Rogers to complete the run-rule win. On Sunday, she pitched the seventh inning to earn a save. In Monday’s concluding game she pitched six innings of relief, only allowing one run while the offense took the lead.

“She just competes,” Weekly said of Gottshall’s play across the weekend. “You just see it in the way she plays. She loves being out there. She loves being with her teammates, and her teammates love playing behind her. She just has a lot of fun, and I think that makes everyone relax and play with a lot of energy.”

Gottshall currently has an 11-0 record with an earned run average of 1.31.

“That’s the stuff I live for,” Gottshall said. “I’ve always loved going into situations like that, just knowing what my team needs from me.”

SEC Championship within reach

The Lady Vols still sit two games clear of Georgia in the SEC standings following the weekend which saw Georgia sweep South Carolina. The Bulldogs are idle this weekend, meaning Tennessee could put a sizeable gap between themselves and Georgia in the standings heading into the final weekend.

A sweep of Arkansas by Tennessee this weekend would clinch the SEC regular season championship for the first time since 2007, which also comes with the No. 1 seed in the SEC tournament. Even if the Razorbacks sweep, Tennessee still controls its own destiny for the SEC championship.

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