Chelsea Seggern was so focused on getting Tennessee to the second round of Knoxville Regional that she hadn’t even noticed the personal best she achieved.
The senior third baseman did that and more on Friday, recording six RBIs-a career high- and a pair of home runs to push the No. 12 Lady Vols (40-14) past Longwood (37-21), 8-0 in six innings.
In the grand scheme of things, however, Seggern’s own personal bests don’t matter all that much to her.
“Someone said to me that six RBIs is my career high,” Seggern said. “I didn’t even know I had that many to be honest. We’re just out here to win ballgames and compete for each other. We’re just trying to make it to the end. That’s our main goal.”
If making it past this weekend, into Super Regionals, and then eventually to Oklahoma City for a Women’s College World Series berth is what the main goal is, Seggern got Tennessee off to a great start.
After being held scoreless for the first two innings, it was Seggern that opened the floodgates for the Lady Vols’ offense.
With one on and one out in the bottom half of the third, Seggern sent a ball deep over the wall in right field, bouncing off of the tarp covering the bleachers to give Tennessee a 2-0 lead. They never looked back.
In the fifth, Cailin Hannon lead off with a double into center field, followed by a Jenna Holcomb bunt single to move Hannon over to third and put runners on the corners. After Holcomb stole third, a delayed throw from the Longwood catcher allowed Hannon to score, extending Tennessee’s advantage to 3-0.
Two at-bats later, Seggern notched her second home run of the day, this time, a three run shot that nearly landed in the same exact spot as the first to put the Lady Vols up, 6-0.
For Tennessee co-head coach Karen Weekly, it is when her batters think less about their swing that the Lady Vols start to produce at the plate. She saw it on full display versus Longwood.
“I think sometimes we’re up there thinking too much,” Weekly said. “I think when the kids are in the dugout watching each other, they’re taking inventory of each at-bat. I didn’t think our swings were really good at first.
“We had a couple of good swings the first time through the order, but after that, we just let loose.”
With a runner once again in scoring position in the sixth, another Seggern RBI single hit hard down the left field line put Tennessee within one more run of invoking the run-rule at 7-0.
That final run came in the strangest of ways, a Haley Bearden ground out at first that Longwood challenged was a foul ball. After a discussion among officials, the ball was ruled playable and was recorded as an RBI, scoring Aubrey Leach from third to end the game an inning early.
While Seggern’s strong hitting proved paramount, Tennessee also dominated on the defensive side of the ball, particularly in the circle.
Starting pitcher Ashley Rogers (21-4) threw her 13th complete game of her freshman campaign, while also tying a career high in strikeouts with 13. She allowed just two hits in six innings of work in the shutout win.
“At the beginning, I was really fired up and ready to go,” Rogers said of her first appearance in an NCAA Tournament game. “I feel like I haven’t pitched in forever. I was really fired up and the first batter got behind and then got a hit, so I had to calm myself down a little bit.
“I feel like I did a pretty good job staying locked in and attacking batters from the very beginning.”
Tennessee will move on to game three of the Knoxville Regional, facing the winner of Friday’s game one, the Ohio State Buckeyes (35-16), who beat North Carolina 1-0.
The Lady Vols and Buckeyes will battle at Sherri Parker Lee Stadium, beginning with a first pitch at noon on Saturday.