TAMPA, Fla. – On Sunday, the No. 9/12-ranked Lady Vols softball team notched their sixth consecutive win – fifth straight shutout – as they defeated UIC 5-0 in the final game of the USF Invitational.
Tennessee (11-1) has now recorded five shutouts in a row for the first time since March 21-25, 2007. That season, UT blanked South Carolina twice before holding Arkansas scoreless over three games.
The Lady Vols continued to ride their strong offense as they outscored their opponents 40-0 this weekend. Through the season’s first 12 games, UT is outscoring its opponents 104-9.
On Sunday, UT did all of its damage in the game’s first two innings, putting five runs on the board. Tennessee opened with three runs in the first as McKenna Gibson cracked a double to the wall in center, plating Mackenzie Donihoo and Kiki Milloy for the first two runs of the game.
After Gibson advanced to third on a passed ball, Zaida Puni dropped down a bunt single to push Gibson across the plate.
In the second, Tennessee scored two runs on errant throws to third that sailed into left field. Amanda Ahlin and Kiki Milloy both stole third in the inning and were allowed to score as the catcher’s throw both times missed the third baseman.
Three pitchers saw action for UT starting with Ashley Rogers who tossed three innings. The graduate did not allow a hit and struck out seven UIC batters. Nicola Simpson came on in relief for Rogers and also threw three innings. She surrendered two hits while striking out two. The sophomore picked up the win for UT – her first of the season.
Simpson gave way to Payton Gottshall who closed out the game throwing in the seventh. She recorded one strikeout in the inning.
Tennessee entered the weekend with 15 doubles on the year – which ranked first in the SEC and sixth in the nation – and peppered 11 more over the weekend’s five games. UT increased its doubles per game average from 2.14 entering the tournament to 2.17
True freshman Amanda Ahlin is on a tear to begin her collegiate career with a team-leading .500 batting average. Ahlin has 18 plate appearances with nine hits, 13 runs scored and four RBIs. At the USF Invitational, she went 5-for-9 (.556) with seven runs scored and one RBI. She also swiped four bases to bring her season stolen base total to six.
Tennessee makes its home debut on Friday with the beginning of the Tennessee Classic. The Lady Vols will play host to Appalachian State, Jacksonville State and Belmont.