Co-head coach Ralph Weekly stated on Friday that this series would be a battle, and he was right.
After winning the first game in a best of three series, the Vols lost two straight to Texas A&M over the weekend. In both victories, the Aggies rallied from three-run deficits.
Sophomore Riley Sartain proved to be the hero of the day, blasting a three-run home run in the top of the third inning to give the Aggies a 4-3 lead. A pop fly in the first inning by Sartain left runners in scoring position, but she made damn sure that would not happen again.
SEC Player of the Year Meghan Gregg was her usual self, recording her second triple of the tournament on her first at-bat of the game. Brook Vines drove her in on the next at-bat to give UT the first score and lead of the game.
After a tough first inning, Matty Moss was lights out in the top of the second, recording her first strikeout of the game and conducting a swift three-up, three-down series for the frame.
A huge second inning for the Vols started off with a bang - literally, a bang-bang play that resulted in a single for Chelsea Seggern. The Vols recorded two hits on the first five pitches of the inning when an error from Ashley Walters allowed two Vols to advance into scoring position.
A sac fly to deep center by Aubrey Leach and a bad throw off the warning track from Erica Russell led to two more runs for the Vols, giving UT the 3-0 lead. However, that was pretty much the end of the line for the Vols.
An error on a 4-3 play and a bad series by Moss in the third triggered the events that led to Sartain’s bomb, which ended up being the killer for the Vols. The Aggies would go on to score one more run and punch their ticket to the WCWS with the 5-3 victory.
**I wanted to write a quick paragraph about the Aggies starting pitcher, Tiffany Harrington. Just over a week ago, her father died from cancer, and now she is pitching in a crucial Game Three that will decide her teams season after pitching a complete game the day before. After a rough start, Harrington absolutely dominated - allowing just one hit in the bottom of the third after giving up three runs and five hits in the first two innings - and was a large reason why the Aggies won. Her mother attended the game in the stands, and it was amazing to witness their strength. Our thoughts our with you!!**
Now even though this was a disappointing loss in a disappointing series, the future is still extremely bright for UT softball. The Vols were ranked 8th in the nation this season in scoring, and all but one player on their current roster will return for next season. Tennessee looks pretty stacked heading into the 2018 season.
Five interesting facts from the game:
- The University of Tennessee broke the attendance record at Sherri Lee Parker Stadium twice more over the weekend, with an attendance of 2,365 on Saturday and 2,459 on Sunday. The total of 7,176 also set a new three-game record.
- It’s no surprise that Texas A&M pulled ahead in the third. The Aggies had outscored their opponents 151-18 in the 3rd and 4th innings heading into Sunday’s game.
- All four runs in the third inning that were scored by the Aggies were unearned runs.
- Before her outing, Meghan Gregg led the entire NCAA with four home runs in the tournament. Texas A&M had only two home runs as a team entering the game on Sunday.
- Another “stat of fate” - the Vols owned a (+11) run differential during innings 1-3 throughout the season, while possessing a minuscule (-4) differential from the fourth inning on.