KNOXVILLE, TN – A seven-run rally in the sixth inning helped the fourth-ranked Tennessee softball team triumph over the 14th-ranked Gators, 11-10, Sunday night at Sherri Lee Parker Stadium in the highest-scoring game in history. from the Serie.
In a matchup between the league’s top scoring teams, the Lady Vols (37-5, 15-2 SEC) prevailed in a wild contest that saw a total of 21 runs and 18 hits. With the win, Tennessee has now won three straight series against Florida for the first time in program history.
Going into the bottom of the sixth down five, the Big Orange rallied and exploded for seven runs.
Pinch runner Brylee Mesusan scored on a defensive error to start the sixth-inning push before a pair of two-run doubles from Rylie West and Kiki Milloy tied the game at nine. Facing a 1-2 count, Lair Beautae ripped a two-run single down the right-field line, sending Milloy and Katie Taylor home and giving UT an 11-9 lead going into the seventh.
Florida (32-13, 8-9 SEC) refused to go as shortstop Skylar Wallace started the seventh inning with a solo blast to cut the lead to one.
Throwing in relief, senior Payton Gottshall rebounded and fanned the final two batters to slam the door as UT prevailed.
Tennessee’s six-point deficit is the largest any SEC team has overcome this season.
Florida opened the game quickly, scoring four runs in the first inning. The Gators landed three singles and a sacrifice fly to give them a 4-0 lead.
UT responded immediately with three runs in the home half of the inning. After a walk from Beautae and a single from McKenna Gibson, cleanup hitter Zaida Puni smashed a three-point blast off the wall into left field, bringing the Lady Vols within one.
The Gators added another point in the second and two in the third to take a 7-3 lead.
In the fifth, they took advantage of a pitch error to tack on two more points and extend the lead to seven. Milloy kicked off UT’s comeback in the fifth, launching a solo explosion at the wall from center field to bring the offense to life. The homer was his 19th of the year, tying him with Lauren Gibson and Annie Aldrete for the most in a single season in program history.
The Lady Vols continued their momentum in the sixth where they erased a five-point deficit and took a two-point lead en route to victory.
Rookie Karlyn Pickens started in the circle for the Lady Vols, pitching an inning and allowing five runs — four earned — on four hits.
Nicola Simpson replaced her teammate in the second inning, allowing a run on two hits and fanning a batter for the next 1.1 innings.
Right-hander Ryleigh White picked up Simpson and recorded one out while allowing a run on two hits before giving way to Aussie Charli Orsini at third. She pitched a season-high 3.1 innings, allowing two runs – none earned – on a hit and striking out one. She picked up the second win of her career and moved to 2-0 on the season.
Gottshall entered the game in the seventh to help eliminate the Gators. The transfer allowed a solo home run but struck out the final two batters to earn her first save of the season.
Florida southpaw Rylee Trlicek started the game for the Gators and allowed eight runs on seven hits in five innings of work. Right Lexie Delbry replaced Trileck in the sixth and walked the only hitter she faced.
Elizabeth Hightower pitched the sixth inning, giving up two runs on as many hits, striking out two and suffering the loss. She fell to 14-8 on the year.
The Lady Vols and Gators conclude their three-game series on Monday. The first launch is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET on the SEC Network.