What a crazy game! Lair Beautae hit a single that drove in Rylie West in the bottom of the 13th inning to break a scoreless game and give Tennessee softball a 1-0 win over the No. 11 seed Mississippi State Bulldogs Thursday afternoon. UT, the No. 3 seed, is now advancing in the SEC Tournament because of it.
The quarterfinal game was an epic pitchers’ dual. Mississippi State used all three pitchers in Aspen Wesley, Kenley Hawk and Annie Willis while Ashley Rogers pitched all 13 games for the Lady Vols. It was the second straight extra inning game for MSU, which upset the No. 6 seed LSU Tigers 7-4 in nine innings on Wednesday.
With this win, the Lady Vols advance to the SEC Tournament semifinals Friday to face the No. 7 Missouri Tigers, who shocked the No. 2 seed Alabama Crimson Tide 3-0 Thursday. Here are three things we learned from Tennessee softball’s shocking victory.
1. All hail Ashley Rogers!
She has battled injuries this year, but she’s clearly back, and in this game, Ashley Rogers reminded Lady Vol fans of Monica Abbott. She pitched a masterpiece. Not only did she not allow a run in 13 innings, but she also only allowed three hits and two walks while striking out seven.
Rogers never allowed a hitter to get on base more than once in any inning. Through nine, she had a one-hitter. There were also two clutch moments. She allowed a runner she walked to reach third on a wild pitch in the fourth before forcing a groundout. Then there was a key double-play in the top of the 13th. That leads to the next takeaway.
2. Infield defense was just as crucial.
You can’t say enough good things about the work Ivy Davis did for Tennessee softball in this game. She was awful at the plate, going 0-for-6, but she was incredible at shortstop, finishing with four putouts and seven assists. With a runner on in the 13th, Anna Fox, who was subbing in at second base and had three putouts, turned a crucial double play with Davis.
At third, Zaida Puni did her part with four putouts and three assists. The team finished the day with no errors to go with 39 putouts and 13 assists, and that was due to the play of the infield, driven by Davis. This type of help is exactly what Rogers needed.
3. Too many runners were left stranded.
Although the home runs weren’t coming, the Lady Vols had too many opportunities to put this one away. In the first inning, Kiki Milloy, who was 3-of-5 on the day and the only consistent hitter, stole second, and after Beautae walked, they reached second and third respectively with one out. No run was scored.
Then, in the fourth, McKenna Gibson hit a single with Katie Taylor on first and Shakara Goodloe on second. Goodloe gunned for home and was thrown out. Milloy was caught stealing in the fifth. Two more were stranded after a ground-out in the sixth. In the bottom of the ninth, Tennessee softball had the bases loaded. With two outs, though, Amanda Ayala struck out.
Then runners on first and third were stranded in the 11th. The worst was the fourth since there was only one out, but they finally brought it home in the 13th. Puni was 2-of-5 on the day to help Milloy, but Milloy is who advanced West in the 13th with another hit. She was the star.