TEMPE, Ariz. – After knotting the game twice in the first 4.5 innings, Tennessee sophomore Kaili Phillips belted a three-run go-ahead dinger to give the No. 12/11 Lady Vols (1-0) the insurance runs they needed to pull away and pick up their first win of 2020 over No. 14/15 Northwestern (1-2) with a 6-3 victory.
Phillips recorded 10 homers last season, the most of any of UTs returners, and stepped up big on Saturday afternoon in the bottom of the fifth with two outs on the board to bring in junior Amanda Ayala and senior Treasuary Poindexter. Phillips bomb broke a 2-2 tie and gave the Lady Vols the lead the remainder of the game. The Ooltewah, Tenn., native went 1-of-4 on the day.
The Lady Vols’ bats talked throughout the season opener as they recorded 10 hits and six RBI, collectively. Ayala (3-for-4) led with a game-high three hits.
After giving up an early run in the top of the first, UT tied things up with a monstrous display from freshman and leadoff hitter Kiki Milloy, who went yard in her first collegiate at-bat, shelling one high through left center. Milloy finished the day with two hits and a game-leading two runs.
Sophomore Kaitlin Parsons moved things to 2-1 after leading off the bottom of the second with a single. The Long Beach, Calif., native stole second and found the plate on an RBI single from senior Jenna Holcomb.
The Wildcats were able to knot things one more time at 2-2 in the top of the fifth, but the payout was short-lived after Phillips’ bomb.
The freshmen class was impressive on both sides of the ball, as first-year pitcher Callie Turner got the starting nod, with sophomore ace Ashley Rogers out temporarily with an injury and Tennessee’s number two Samantha Bender’s status day-to-day.
In a complete game effort, Turner picked up her first win fanning four batters. The Land O’Lakes, Fla., native gave up five hits, two earned runs and five walks. A member of the U.S. Junior National Team, Turner’s stuff was on display in spirts, highlighted by retiring three batters on the swing in the top of the sixth to keep NU scoreless for four frames.
The Lady Vols conclude the doubleheader day in a bout with Big 12 foe Kansas (0-2) at 8:30 p.m. (ET) at Tempe Sports Complex.