Lady Vols Softball vs Stanford

The No. 21 Tennessee (28-6, 4-5 SEC) softball team got its first SEC series win this weekend over No. 8 Kentucky (27-6, 4-5), winning Friday and Sunday’s contests and dropping Saturday’s. 

Here are the grades for Tennessee’s first SEC series win.

Infield

Not much was achieved by Tennessee’s tough infield combination of Ashley Morgan, Anna Fox, Ivy Davis and Chelsea Seggern this weekend. The experienced group was able to control Kentucky all weekend with the exception of Saturday’s game. The infield complimented pitcher Ashley Rogers well when she was on the mound and played a big role in Tennessee’s two wins.

However, the infielders were shaky at the plate all weekend.

Morgan was the most consistent batter for the Lady Vols this weekend, getting four hits in her eight at-bats. Morgan played a big role in Tennessee’s wins this weekend, as much of its scoring came from Morgan. Friday night, Morgan had two RBIs that came at crucial times during the game. Sunday, Morgan had the Lady Vols only homer.

Some things that won’t show up on the stat sheet for Morgan are the weight that her hitting performance carried this weekend. Morgan was the spark for the Lady Vols offense all weekend, igniting the team early with base hits and giving the team energy late in the game.

Fox was only able to get one hit on the weekend on Sunday, which is not horrible when looking at her season average of .091. Fox did her part in the infield this weekend but is still looking for her swing on offense. 

Davis took a major step back this weekend, and the Lady Vols felt her absence. Davis only got one hit on her nine attempts this weekend. Considering her season average of .318, this performance was lackluster at best. 

Davis has been the fire on offense for the Lady Vols all season with big hits in crucial times and ten homers on the season. Luckily for the Lady Vols, other players (like Morgan) were able to step in and make up for Davis’s struggles. 

Seggern also took a step back in this weekend’s series. Seggern got three hits on 11 attempts. Not bad, but still lower than her season average of .318. A high moment for Seggern was her performance on Saturday. Seggern was the only hitter for the Lady Vols to get more than one hit during Saturday’s blowout loss, going two for three at the plate.

Like Morgan, Seggern offered some things that won’t show on the stat sheet. The vocal leadership and energy that she brings to the team are vital, especially when trying to get a win on Sunday after a 13-2 loss the night before.

The infield was solid, but the less-than-average performances by Davis and Seggern brought down the infield’s overall grade.

Grade: B-

Outfield 

Tennessee’s outfield struggled some this weekend. A few dropped fly balls, missed grounders and communication errors held the outfield back quite a bit against Kentucky. Despite a sloppy performance on defense, the outfield was solid at the plate.

Amanda Ayala, one of Tennessee’s strongest batters, went 3-of-8 this weekend, and potentially could have had two more attempts at the plate had she not gone down early on Sunday with an ankle injury. Ayala was the MVP in Friday’s win, going 3-of-4 with a big go-ahead homer and two RBIs. She followed her stellar performance up with a not-so-great performance on Saturday and Sunday, going 0-for-2 in both games.

Kiki Milloy, another one of Tennessee’s reliable hitters, was 2-of-8 on the weekend. Milloy definitely took a step back from her .388 average this weekend, but the step back did not impact the Lady Vols too much, as Milloy made up for her performance at the plate with some stolen bases and solid fielding.

Cailin Hannon has emerged as one of Tennessee’s solid hitters, with a .326 average and six homers. Hannon was an exceptional 5-of-11 this weekend, with a couple of RBIs. There is not much bad to be said about Hannon’s performance this weekend. If she continues solid play like this, she will soon be one of the team’s go-to hitters.

Tennessee’s outfielders were strong at the plate this weekend and their play was crucial in both wins this weekend.

Grade: A

Bench

Coaches Karen and Ralph Weekly called upon their bench multiple times this weekend, but there was not much notable play from the bench this weekend.

The pinch runners for the Lady Vols were decent at best, only getting to the plate two times on the six times they were called up.

Pinch hitters for the Lady Vols this weekend include Rylie West, Kaitlin Parsons and Madison Webber. The pinch hitters for the most part did not get much done for the Lady Vols, but despite overall dull play, Rylie West came up big for Tennessee. West got her first career homer on Saturday and was a solid 1-of-2 on Sunday when she came in for the injured Ayala.

Grade: C+

Pitching

Tennessee utilized a plethora of pitchers this weekend, with Ashley Rogers on Friday and Sunday, and Samantha Bender, Bailey McCachren and Anna Hazlewood on Saturday.

The Lady Vols could not find any consistency on Saturday, as Rogers was resting, and the team’s No. 2 pitcher Callie Turner was out with injury. The three pitchers on Saturday were never able to get anything going. 

Between Saturday’s three pitchers, only two strikeouts were recorded. Ralph Weekly blamed the pitching struggles Saturday on a lack of experience.

On the other hand, Rogers was phenomenal in Friday and Sunday’s wins. The junior ace recorded 23 strikeouts across the entire weekend. Rogers came out with great energy on Sunday and was relentless on the mound. Rogers proved once again why she is one of the best pitchers in the SEC.

Despite the great performance from Rogers, the pitching struggles in Saturday’s contest brought down the grade for the pitchers.

Grade: B

Overall

The Lady Vols were very solid this weekend. However, two great performances on Friday and Sunday were contrasted by perhaps the worst effort from Tennessee this season on Sunday. They got the series win, but the Lady Vols need to develop more consistency as they get deeper into SEC play.

Grade: B

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