Vols fall in extra innings of regional final to Arizona
Tennessee had its postseason run ended on Sunday afternoon with a 4-3 loss to Arizona in extra innings at Sherri Parker Lee Stadium during the NCAA Knoxville Regional final.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (UTsports.com)-- Tennessee had its postseason run ended on Sunday afternoon with a 4-3 loss to Arizona in extra innings at Sherri Parker Lee Stadium during the NCAA Knoxville Regional final.
The Vols fought back from an early deficit to take a 3-1 lead in the fourth inning, but ran out of gas down the stretch in their second loss to the Wildcats in as many days and third this season.
Senior catcher Lexi Overstreet drove in all three runs with her team-leading 13th home run of the year in the top of the fourth inning. Brooke Vines, Aubrey Leach,Meghan Gregg, Megan Geer and CJ McClain all had a hit apiece in the game as well.
Defensive miscues ended up costing the Vols, as they committed three errors on the afternoon, including two that aided in Arizona scoring the game-winning run in the bottom of the eighth inning.
After two scoreless innings, the Wildcats opened the scoring with a run in the bottom of the third to take a 1-0 lead. Mandie Perez and Ashleigh Hughes had back-to-back two-out singles before Mo Mercado made it three in a row with a single up the middle to score Perez from second.
The Vols responded immediately, getting to Arizona starting pitch Danielle O'Toole for the first time all weekend. UT started the inning with back-to-back singles by Leach and Gregg to put runners on the corners with no outs. After a strikeout by O'Toole, Overstreet came through with the biggest hit of the day for Tennessee, launching a three-run homer over the wall in right field to give the Vols a 3-1 lead. UT had a chance to add to its lead, but left the bases loaded to end the inning.
The first error of the game ended up hurting UT in the bottom of the fifth as Arizona was able to scratch across two runs, both unearned, and tie the game at three. An error by Gregg, followed by a passed ball put Wildcats at second and third with no outs. Hughes drove in the first run of the inning with an RBI groundout and Mercado tied the game at three with a sacrifice fly.
Tennessee had a great chance to retake the lead in the top of the seventh after back-to-back singles by McClain and Vines put runners on first and third with no outs. After being relieved earlier in the game, O'Toole reentered to record three straight ground outs to escape the jam unscathed.
After the Big Orange went down in order in the top of the eighth, Arizona capitalized on a pair of Tennessee errors in the bottom half of the inning. Nancy Bowling reached on an error to lead off the inning before moving to second on a sacrifice bunt. One batter later, Tamara Statman singled to left field and the ball was misplayed by Vines, allowing Bowling to score the game-winning run.
O'Toole picked up her third win of the regional to improve to 25-10 on the year while Erin Gabriel was stuck with the loss after throwing 5.1 solid innings. The senior scattered five hits and gave up just one earned run in the game.
Tennessee finishes the season with a 43-16 record after advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the 13th straight year and 14th time overall in program history.