PUERTO VALLARTA, Mexico – No. 12 Tennessee had some fun in the sun to close a doubleheader opening day at the Puerto Vallarta Collegiate Challenge with a hard-fought 6-4 victory over a persistent Colorado State team that kept the pressure on UT until the final ground out.
After taking a 2-0 lead in the second, the margin carried the Lady Vols (4-1) through 2.5 innings until the Rams (4-2) tied it up on a homer and a couple of fielding errors.
UT stretched its lead again on scores from Amanda Ayala (2-for-2) on a muffed throw and from Jenna Holcomb on a failed pick off in the sixth. Ayala and Chelsea Seggern (2-for-3) knocked through back-to-back RBI singles to bring in a pair of necessary insurance runs in the top of the seventh as the Rams looked to make a last push with a 6-2 deficit.
With two outs left in the bottom of the seventh, CSU blasted a two RBI double to come within two, with a runner on and the tying run at the plate. UT was able to maintain and get the final out in its fifth hour of competition after beginning the day at 11 a.m. (ET) in an exhibition game with the Mexico Olympic Team.
Ayala led the UT-CSU game with a pair of runs and hits and was also walked twice, while Seggern accounted for a pair of RBIs.
Tennessee stuck with starting left-hand pitcher Callie Turner through the tumultuous time and the freshman was able to stay the course to pick up her third win of the season. Turner delivered a career-high 10 strikeouts in a complete game effort, giving up three earned runs and a walk.
A bit of pressure was put on the newcomer in the circle as the Orange and White offense was unable to pull away decisively and left 11 runners on base.
The UT bats talked just enough, nine times to be specific, to keep the edge with junior first baseman Ashley Morgan also contributing a pair of timely hits on back-to-back at-bats to give the offense sporadic sparks.
Tennessee continues play in Puerto Vallarta under the Friday night lights against Utah at 7 p.m. (ET) and No. 6 Texas at 9:30 p.m.
Tennessee 0, Mexico 2
The Lady Vols faced the Mexico Olympic Team in the tournament opener to start the day with an exhibition game. With the game not counting against regular-season totals and stats, Tennessee used it as an opportunity to get some of its younger players reps.
With four freshmen starting in new positions, Tennessee was able to keep a stacked Mexico team off the board through five innings, before a late run gave the national team the 2-0 shutout victory.
Most notably, outfielder Kiki Milloy got the starting nod in the circle and delivered 5.1 innings of impressive stuff. The Woodinville, Wash., native gave up just one hit in the opening four innings and threw three strikeouts and one walk.
Freshmen Anna Fox and KK McCrary got their first look as starting infielders at second and third, respectively, while Amanda Curran was listed as UT’s offensive player.
While the defense was steady, Tennessee could not string enough offensive plays together to get on the board recording just two hits to add to five walks.
In the bottom of the sixth, Mexico singled, doubled and tripled to put things out of reach for the Lady Vols.
Mexico is the first of two national teams the Lady Vols will face this season. UT will host Team USA on April 8 in Knoxville as part of the national team’s “Stand Beside Her” Tour. The game will be televised on ESPN2.