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College Softball: Lady Vols Shutout Georgia As Gregg Becomes All-Time RBI Leader, 1-0

The Lady Vols improved their record in SEC play Saturday night.

Meghan Gregg came through in the clutch.

After coming out on the wrong end of a rough sweep against SEC foe South Carolina last weekend, the Lady Vols desperately needed to come out strong against a very good Georgia team.

On a beautiful Saturday night in front of a sold-out crowd at Sherrie Parker Lee Stadium, the Lady Vols gave everyone - minus a few Georgia fans - plenty to cheer for.

“What we are playing for this weekend is to get our pride back from last weekend. I think we started to do a really good job of that and we got some of it back, but we still have more to gain this weekend and more to prove.” - Senior Meghan Gregg

The game was an all-out duel between Georgia’s Brittany Gray and UT’s famed duo of Caylan Arnold and Matty Moss. Both teams were held scoreless with just five combined hits until the final inning of the game.

But it wasn’t just the pitching that highlighted the evening. Senior Meghan Gregg broke former Lady Vol Tonya Callahan’s all-time RBI record and the Lady Vol defense - namely Scarlet McSwain - made some huge plays that helped keep the Bulldogs in check.

Arnold got off to a hot start for the Lady Vols, recording three quick strikeouts in the first two innings and seemed to be on her way to a complete game, but a bad series in the fourth left co-head coach Karen Weekly with the decision to bring in Moss.

Arnold was bailed out on a potential two-run score by utility player McSwain who made a beautiful - and a possible SC Top 10 Play - catch off of the back wall. Not only did McSwain fight off the sun and wind to deny UGA’s Alysen Febrey of the home run, but she still found the timing, strength, and accuracy to throw out the Bulldog’s Alyssa DiCarlo at first base for the 9-4-3 double play.

“I’ve been coaching 31 years, and I’ve been at every level, and I don’t know that I’ve seen a better catch and throw. That throw had to be in one perfect place.” - Co-head coach Ralph Weekly

Seriously, call it what you want - beautiful, phenomenal, amazing, tubular - whatever, you HAVE to find this play.

That play, to quote a certain Rebel resistance force, “was the spark that lit the fire” for the Lady Vols. They were finally able to get some offense going and force Gray and the Bulldogs into mistakes that they weren’t making previously.

“(That play), it just pumps everyone up and just makes everyone to play for each other more.” - Gregg

It didn’t stop there, either. As soon as Moss came in at the top of the fifth, McSwain did her part to let her know she had her back as well. A pop-fly to shallow right field by Georgia’s Ciara Bryan was denied on another great catch by McSwain.

This play was an athletic, hard-lined dive at the ball, which she caught about six inches before it hit the ground. McSwain gave all the credit to her coaches and teammates of course, citing their hard work and preparation during the week that led to her success on defense.

“I’m sure any of our outfielders could have done what I did, they work so hard at it. I’m just glad that one was finally hit to us and we could prove how hard we work at it.” - McSwain

All of this back-and-forth defense built up to an incredible finish at the end of the game, leaving fans wondering who would blink first.

After a dominating performance throughout the entire evening, Gray all of a sudden seemed tired, and the Weeklys noticed. They decided to take advantage of this by mixing it up a bit.

The veteran coaches decided to bring in a different look on offense, going with sophomores Tianna Batts and Cailin Hannon to start the inning. The moved worked. Gray proceeded to walk Batts on four pitches and Hannon on five, recording just one strike in the process.

This left the game-winning run in scoring position with the top of the Lady Vols’ lineup at play. All UT needed was one of their top three hitters to make a play.

Gray appeared to have regained her momentum after silencing UT’s next two batters, but that faded quickly after she walked freshman Amanda Ayala.

That left Gray with the bases loaded and two outs with none other than Gregg up to bat. You could see the emotion in Gray’s face as Gregg walked up to the plate.

“Everyone should just fear her.” - Sophomore Caylan Arnold

Both players dueled it out until Gregg was hit by Gray’s fifth pitch of the contest to secure Gregg’s record-breaking RBI and Gray’s first loss of the season. The Lady Vols would go on to improve their record to 31-4 while Georgia fell to 30-4.

The next game is Sunday, April 1st. First pitch is scheduled for 6PM E.T.

Stats from the game:

  • The Lady Vols are now 5-3 against top 25 teams that are ranked in either the USA Today/NFCA and ESPN/USA Softball poll.
  • Tennessee and Georgia are the top two teams in the SEC when it comes to batting average, runs scored, hits, RBIs, and total bases - yet both teams combined for just one run and five hits in a complete pitcher’s duel.
  • Georgia hasn’t been shutout since May 7, 2016.
  • The Lady Vols added two more casualties to their SEC-leading (64) batters KO’d looking to increase their season total to (66).