Softball Media Day*

Both Karlyn Pickens and Ryleigh White threw complete-game shutouts as No. 9 Tennessee defeated No. 5 Clemson and Illinois-Chicago in Tampa, Florida. Pickens threw eight strikeouts in the first game of the day, and McKenna Gibson scored the only run against the Tigers, winning 1-0. The Lady Vols had a much more dominant performance against the Flames, recording a 12-0 win in five innings.

Pickens got the start in the first game of the afternoon, the second of her career. She made an impact immediately on the game, striking out McKenzie Clark to open the game. She sent the side down in order to open the game for the Lady Vols.

Gibson got the first hit of the game with a single through the left side of the infield. She could not be driven in as Zaida Puni hit into a fielder’s choice to end the inning.

Carolina Jacobsen led off the second inning with a base hit into left center. The Lady Vols then got a double play, striking out Alia Longoleo while throwing out Jacobsen attempting to steal second base. Pickens threw her third strikeout of the game to end the inning.

Valerie Cagle sent down the Lady Vols in order, with Giulia Koutsoyanopulos and Katie Taylor both striking out. Cagle was named to various first-team and second-team preseason All-American lists coming into this season.

Pickens threw a fourth strikeout of the game to open the third inning. Arielle Oda recorded the second hit of the game against Pickens with a infield single. Pickens retired the side with a fifth strikeout to hold Clemson from scoring, keeping the game scoreless. The Lady Vols then went down in order, with Amanda Ahlin becoming Cagle’s fourth strikeout victim.

Pickens allowed a base hit to Cagle in the fourth inning but was able to hold Clemson scoreless in the inning, thanks in part to striking out Jacobsen. In her second career start, Pickens held the Tigers scoreless early.

Kiki Milloy led off the home half of the fourth inning with a double off the outfield wall. Gibson grounded out but allowed Milloy to advance to third base. Puni struck out swinging for Cagle’s fifth of the game before Koutsoyanopulos does the same. Milloy was stranded at third base, and the game remained scoreless through four innings.

Although she allowed Reedy Davenport to hit a single into right field, Pickens struck out two more batters in the fifth inning to increase her total to eight.

Rylie West led off the bottom half of the fifth inning with an infield single. Brylee Mesusan came in to pinch run for her. Taylor struck out and was hit in the head with a throw that attempted to catch Mesusan stealing second. Mesusan was called out for interference. Rodriguez then grounded out to end the inning.

Pickens earned three groundouts to keep Clemson scoreless through six innings. Pickens and Cagle were dueling all game, with both pitching well.

Ahlin led off the inning with an infield single. Donihoo flew out to right and could not advance Ahlin. Ahlin stole second during Milloy’s at-bat, which ended with Milloy striking out swinging. Gibson picked up the slack, putting an RBI single into center field to score Ahlin. Tennessee had its first lead of the game.

Puni reaches after a pitch hits her in the elbow. Koutsoyanopulos hits a base hit into center field, but pinch runner Shakara Goodloe is thrown out at the plate to end the inning.

Both Jacobsen and Longoleo popped out to make the first two outs of the inning. Aby Vieira grounded out to Pickens, giving her the last out and the complete game shutout.

In the top of the first against the UIC Flames, Milloy reached base on an infield single. She was stranded there, as both Gibson and Puni grounded out to the pitcher.

White started the game in the circle for the Lady Vols. Anna Walker opened her team’s batting order with a base hit but was thrown out trying to steal second base. 

Taylor reached first after she was hit by a pitch in the top half of the second inning, but she was called out on a fielder’s choice to end the inning. White sent the Flames down in order to keep the game scoreless through two innings.

Ahlin and Donihoo both reached base to open the third inning. Ahlin scored on an RBI base hit from Milloy. Gibson then walked to load the bases with no outs. Puni hit a sacrifice fly into right, allowing Donihoo to score. Milloy scored due to a bad throw by the UIC defense, which also allowed West to reach base. Koutsoyanopulos hit an RBI single to increase the Tennessee lead to four. A bad throw trying to catch Koutsoyanopulos reaching second allowed West to score. Tennessee led 5-0 after three innings, as Ryleigh White struck out two batters on her way to sending the Flames down in order again.

Ahlin and Donihoo both reached base to open the fourth inning. Ahlin scored on a failed throw trying to catch Donihoo stealing second. Milloy hits into a double play, as Donihoo is thrown out at the plate and Milloy fails to reach second. Gibson went around on a check swing and struck out to end the inning. White sent UIC’s batters down in order once again, maintaining her scoreless performance.

Puni opened the fifth inning with a home run to center field for her third of the season. Rodriguez later hit an RBI single to put the Lady Vols into run rule territory. Doubles by Donihoo and Milloy added three insurance runs. Donihoo later scored on a fielder’s choice by Gibson. White allows a base hit to open the fifth inning, but does not let up a run, giving the Lady Vols a run-rule win.

With the wins, Karen Weekly recorded her 1,000th win.

The Lady Vols will play Illinois-Chicago again tomorrow.

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