Softball Preview: Lady Vols at Texas A&M

UT Softball / Credit: UT Athletics

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – SEC play is here for Tennessee who open its 24-game conference slate with a three-game series against Texas A&M this weekend in College Station, Texas.

UT (14-9) looks to jump back into the win column after closing its preseason nonconference schedule with a tightly-contested 3-2 loss to North Carolina on Tuesday night in Knoxville.

The Lady Vols open against the Aggies on Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET. Saturday’s game is slated for 3 p.m., and Sunday’s getaway-day game is scheduled for 2 p.m.

Broadcast Info
The series will be streamed live on WatchESPN.com and the ESPN app.
Fans can also listen to the action on UTSports.com, the UT Gameday app and on WNML AM 990 in Knoxville with Brian Rice on the call.

Quick Hits
Double Down
Tennessee has recorded 17 double plays so far this season, with a single-game season high three against USF on Feb. 22 that ties for a program record. The achievement has only occurred on three occasions, the last time coming at Virginia Tech in 2015. The only other time a UT team had three double plays was in 1998 versus Kansas. The Lady Vols’ 0.73 double plays per game leads the SEC and ranks third in the nation.

Seggern Takes ‘Em for the Team
Senior Chelsea Seggern quickly jumped into another top-10 category early in the season, albeit a painful one. Recording nine hit-by-pitches so far, Seggern ranks seventh all-time in UT history after being pegged at the plate 28 times since she joined the Lady Vols family in 2017. The Thrall, Texas, native ranks second in the SEC and sixth in the nation in HBP per game (0.47). Seggern is also ranked 20th in the nations with 0.576 on base percentage.

Pitching Coming Together
Despite UT’s expected ace Ashley Rogers temporarily sidelined, the young pitching staff has maintained its competitiveness behind freshman starter Callie Turner, who ranks third in the SEC and 30th in the nation with eight victories. Newcomer and redshirt sophomore transfer Samantha Bender has also been reliable for the Lady Vols in the circle recording two saves so far this season, which ranks fifth in the conference and 19th in the nation. Bender has a 5-1 win-loss record on 42.0 innings pitched.

Freshmen’s First Dingers
Kiki Milloy and KK McCrary have stood out for their impressive play at the plate in the early 2020 season. Milloy who was the leadoff hitter in the 2020 lid-lifter, was the first freshman to go yard in their first collegiate at-bat for the Lady Vols since at least 2012, while McCrary was the first of the eight freshmen to go yard at Sherri Parker Lee. McCrary blasted a 2-run homer through centerfield against UT Martin on Feb. 25 to become the first freshman to record a dinger in a home opener since Meghan Gregg hit two against Northern Iowa on March 6, 2015.

Hail Tennessee
Nearly half of the Lady Vols squad is made up of in-state talent. There are nine Tennessee natives on the 2020 roster, believed to be a record for the program. Seniors Treasuary Poindexter (Covington, Tenn.) and Cailin Hannon (Franklin, Tenn.) and sophomores Kaili Phillips (Ooltewah, Tenn.) and Ashley Rogers (Athens, Tenn.) are joined by freshmen Anna Fox (Columbia, Tenn.), KK McCrary (Murfreesboro, Tenn.), Josie Willingham (Medon, Tenn.), Anna Hazlewood (Martin, Tenn.) and Madison Webber (Sevierville, Tenn.).

25th Anniversary
On Feb. 23, 1996, Tennessee fielded its first softball team at the 10th Annual Louisiana Classics in Lafayette, La. A 1-0 loss to Baylor, a program that had been around since 1979, marked the beginning of what would become one of the Vols and Lady Vols premier athletic programs. The Lady Vols bounced back the following day to pick up the program’s first win, a 5-4 victory over the Bears and eventually took the series in a rubber match on Feb. 25, a 9-8, eight-inning victory. Fast forward to 2020 and 1,124 wins later, the Orange and White opened the programs 25th year in extant with a 6-3 win against Northwestern in Tempe, Ariz.

All-American Homecoming
In late January, Tennessee announced that it would host the U.S. Women’s National Team as part of Team USA’s “Stand Beside Her” Tour – a nationwide tour where the Red, White and Blue will face top Division I collegiate teams in preparation for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. On April 8, the Lady Vols face off against the WNT at Sherri Parker Lee and will welcome back Tennessee great Monica Abbott, a four-time All-American (2004-07), three-time SEC Pitcher of the Year (2004, 05, 07), USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year trophy winner and NCAA/UT program record holder. Tickets for the event are currently sold out, but the game will be broadcast on ESPN2.

Scouting Report
Texas A&M
2020 record: 16-9, 1-2 SEC
Series: 15-5
Last meeting: The 11th-ranked Lady Vols fell 6-4 to the Aggies on Cinco de Mayo (5/5/19) in Knoxville
Key players/stats: The Aggies have given up 98 runs this season and average 5.64 runs per game. The lead off hitter Makinzy Herzog is hitting a .418 clip and has score 28 runs. She plays a dual role as a pitcher and has collected three wins in the circle. and has a 0.82 ERA.

-UT Athletics

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