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Tennessee Softball: Vols Roll Against Aggies in NCAA Tournament Opener

Tennessee takes a 1-0 lead after shutting down the Aggies on Friday.

FloSports: FloSoftball Mary Nutter 2 Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

Five days ago, Randy Smith, a long-time sports reporter and columnist for the website said that the University of Tennessee softball program was the most successful on campus.

The man may be on to something.

After destroying the Texas A&M Aggies 8-1 on Friday, the Vols are one win away from making their fourth trip to the WCWS in the past six seasons.

They also managed to break some records along the way. Even though the Vols were picked to finish 5th in the SEC and are very young, they are still finding ways to win - and win big.

As expected, junior shortstop Meghan Gregg broke the single-season RBI record with her 78th of the season. The historic hit came in the bottom of the third inning during a stretch where the Vols flat-out dominated the Aggies.

Now let’s take a moment to discuss the brilliance of Meghan Gregg this season. Not only has she set career highs all across the board this year, but she won the SEC Player of the Year, and she is a top-three finalist for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award.

Oh, and she is also a member of the Academic All-America team. One can’t help (and when I type one, I mean myself) but just feel small when reading the list of achievements this young lady has accomplished..... THOSE AREN’T TEARS IN MY EYES!!

She is also invaluable when it comes to the intangibles, which is crucial for a young team such as this one. After a disappointing performance in the SEC tournament, she promised not to settle for a mediocre season and help get her team to the WCWS. Now they are just a game away from that achieving that goal.

Did I mention that the Vols only have one senior on the roster? You can’t coach leadership like that. It has to exist within the person themselves, then, you can only develop it.

But Gregg isn’t the only player who is having a killer year. Sophomore Matty Moss has been lights out on the mound. She currently holds a 26-2 record on the year and just pitched her way to the 13th complete game of the season.

Moss was excellent against the Aggies, only allowing one earned run on five hits with five strikeouts and two walks. A member of the SEC all-freshman team last season, Moss is another key piece to the Vols impressive run.

You couldn’t rattle her even if you tried. When asked about any pre-game nerves, Moss replied, “I just try to go out and play the same game that we have been playing all year. Obviously, it’s a little bit bigger of a stage and more is at stake. It’s more fun that way.”

Just like Moss, co-head coach Ralph Weekly is confident, but that doesn’t mean he is taking this next game lightly.

“We’re going back to watch film and I guarantee you that we’ll be ready tomorrow, just like they’ll be ready tomorrow,” said Weekly, expecting a tough task in facing a motivated Aggies team on the brink of elimination.

“They aren’t going to show up and say, ‘Okay Tennessee, you guys are going to go and represent us.’ They are going to battle us tomorrow, and they will battle on Sunday if it goes that far. But, we are going to battle back.”

However, it seems that the Vols have control in this one and will return to the WCWS yet again. Be sure to tune into ESPN2 at 5 P.M. ET for the first pitch!

Five interesting facts from the game:

  1. An all-time attendance record was set at Sherri Lee Parker Staidum. 2,352 people attended the game.
  2. The Aggies pitching staff combined for seven walks, four of which came in the bottom of the third inning.
  3. Ralph Weekly is now fourth all-time amongst college softball coaches with 1,302 wins in his career.
  4. Texas A&M pitcher Samantha Show walked a season-high five batters and was pulled in the notoriously bad bottom of third inning.
  5. The Aggies played three different pitchers and Matty Moss still struck out more batters than all three A&M pitchers combined.