KNOXVILLE, Tenn.– The No. 14 Lady Vols were in danger of leaving the weekend without a single win against No. 10 Arkansas. That was until sophomore transfer Zaida Puni and graduate transfer Erin Edmoundson took over.
Tennessee fought back from back-to-back losses to the Razorbacks, for a 6-2 win on Sunday at Sherri Parker Lee Stadium.
The Lady Vols’ success was fueled by Puni’s whopping six RBIs, and Edmoundson’s complete game, six strikeout effort.
The success started early for the Vols, as Puni nearly hit one over the wall in the bottom of the first, allowing freshman Lair Beautae to score easily from first base.
After a few walks, Tennessee had the bases loaded with a chance to grab this game by the throat. Unfortunately for the Lady Vols, there were two outs and subsequent strike out, squandering the opportunity.
After what felt like a wasted chance to get the edge on a team that had their number all weekend, the Lady Vols put together their best inning of the day.
In what would be a recurring theme, Edmoundson came up big, refusing to allow a hit in the second. Then, it was Puni with the play of the game: a no-doubt grand slam to give the Lady Vols a five-run lead.
“Honestly I wasn’t planning to hit it over,” Puni said. “I just saw the pitch and was just trying to get a base hit.”
Tennessee coach Karen Weekly liked what she saw from Puni.
“When Zaida is in there from the very start looking for something she can get a good swing on, good things are going to happen,” Weekly said. “You saw that today.”
Edmoundson would continue her dominance, not allowing a hit in the third inning. She then had back-to-back strikeouts to close out the top of the fourth, denying Arkansas points when they had runners on first and third.
Edmoundson’s fifth inning was another no-hitter, including her third straight strikeout to start the inning.
After being unable to score, The Lady Vols saw the Razorbacks finally get a runner to score and then a one-off home run from Arkansas’ Danielle Gibson, bringing the score to 5-2. Kiki Milloy was able to close the top of the sixth after catching a fly ball in the wind.
Edmoundson had high praise for Gibson, but stayed composed after the two scores.
“She had my number all weekend, so I just have to tip my hat off to her on that,” Edmoundson said. “My team had given me a good enough lead, that I was able to do that and not feel the pressure.”
Tennessee’s lead increased following hits from super senior Amanda Ayala and Beautae to set up the Lady Vols on first and second. Puni came up big again and was able to bat Ayala in, putting the lead back up to four runs.
Edmounson began the final inning with her last of six strikeouts, then allowed just one hit for the rest of the inning. She stayed cool in the clutch after giving the Razorbacks some life.
“I’ve always loved the big moments,” Edmounson said. ”Transferring here has flipped my script, because my last year was really bad to be honest.”
This is a performance Edmoundson, Puni, and the entire Lady Vols team can build off of, improving to 20-8 and 3-2 in SEC play. Tennessee will travel down to Gainsville next weekend for a three-game series with No. 5 Florida.