The No. 7 Lady Vols softball team opened up its final regular season series with a important 7-4 win over No. 24 Mississippi State in Starkville, Mississippi on Friday night.

The Lady Vols got things started off early as three of Tennessee’s first five batters wound up on base thanks to drawing walks, starting off with Aubrey Leach drawing a lead-off walk. Two batters later Meghan Gregg would reach first base on a fielder’s choice, with Leach advancing to second base. 

The next two batters Chelsea Seggern and Scarlet McSwain would both draw walks, Seggern to load the bases and McSwain to bring the games first run across in Leach.

That would also cause Mississippi State to pull their starting pitcher, as Emily Williams was replaced after just one third of an inning by Candace Denis. Williams would still take the loss for State even though she only made it five batters in to her start.

The Bulldogs luck in the circle would not get any better despite the pitching change as the first batter Denis would face drove in two runs when Ashley Morgan singled to center field to drive in both Gregg and Seggern.

Denis settled down after that getting the next two Lady Vols to come up to the plate out, but the damage was already done as UT put up three runs on one hit to start the game.

UT would add a fourth run in the top of the second inning as CJ McClain, who led off the inning with a single, would score on a single to left center by Holcomb.

UT would go up 5-0 in the top of the fifth when McSwain, who had reached on a walk for the second time in the game, came across to score on a fielding error on a hit to center field by Morgan.

Caylan Arnold (22-4) would get the start and win for Tennessee. Arnold pitched five and two thirds innings and allowed three run, all of them earned on seven hits. She also recorded one strikeout and walked four batters.

Matty Moss would come in and replace Arnold in the fifth and pitched one and a third innings allowing one run which was earned and striking out one batter.

State got on the board in the bottom of the fifth when Moss allowed a single to Mia Davidson that allowed Bevia Robinson to score from second cutting the Lady Vol lead to 5-1.

UT would add two more runs in the sixth inning when Leach scored from third on a single by Gregg and again when Treasury Poindexter, who came in to run for Gregg, scored from third on a single by McSwain.

The win moved UT to 43-10 on the season and 13-9 in the SEC, but, more importantly, moved the Lady Vols into a tie with Texas A&M for fourth place in the SEC with just two games left in the regular season.

Tennessee has two more games left with Mississippi State with game two coming on Saturday at 2 pm ET and game three on Sunday at 2 pm ET as well. Texas A&M has two games left with Alabama that will take place on Saturday at 1 pm and on Sunday at 2:30 pm.

Alabama claimed a 6-2 win over the Aggies in game one of that series to help UT move into the tie with A&M. The Lady Vols will have a chance with help to move up as high as second in the SEC standings. However, all that is really in their hands is staying in fourth place by sweeping the Bulldogs which they will try to do over the next two days.

Written by: Sam Forman

Edited by: Shea Payne