— Tennessee Softball (@Vol_Softball) May 26, 2018
Tennessee’s roller coaster softball season came to an end at Georgia on Saturday, the Lady Vols falling 2-1 in eight innings in the Athens Super Regional.
Sophomore Cailin Hannon forced extra innings with a two-out, pinch-hit single in the bottom of the seventh to tie it at 1.
The No. 7 seed Bulldogs (48-11) showed why they were the top hitting team in the SEC in the top of the eighth, as Cortni Emanuel hit a two-out, two-strike solo home run off reliever Caylan Arnold (26-6).
The No. 10 seed Lady Vols (48-14) were unable to answer in the bottom of the inning.
Georgia advanced to the Women’s College World Series with a sweep in the best-of-three series, having won 4-3 on Friday night.
Tennessee senior All-American Meghan Gregg, the program’s all-time leader in home runs, RBI and slugging percentage, accounted for two of the Lady Vols four hits in the game.
Matty Moss started for Tennessee and pitched six scoreless innings before Arnold came on in relief.
Moss, who battled illness and fatigue related to infected tonsils throughout the season, re-entered to retire Georgia in the eighth inning.
The 2018 season saw Tennessee race out to its best start in program history at 30-1.
An exhausting midseason tournament in Hawaii, however, took the wind out of the Lady Vols’ sails.
A three-game sweep at South Carolina ensued, as the Tennessee pitchers began to struggle, unable to protect leads in the first two games in Columbia.
The Lady Vols planned to have a three-pitcher rotation, but talented freshman Gabby Sprang was unable to overcome control issues.
Co-head coaches Ralph and Karen Weekly, in their 17th season leading the program, steadied the team down the stretch, thanks largely to Arnold’s elevated performance in the pitching circle.
Tennessee won its final four SEC series, beating NCAA Super Regional teams Alabama, LSU and Kentucky — in addition to Mississippi State — to finish the regular season with the nation’s No. 8 RPI.
The Lady Vols beat No. 9 RPI team LSU in the SEC Tournament, leading many to believe they had earned the right to host a Super Regional.
The NCAA Tournament selection committee, however, appeared to ignore the RPI rankings in favor of more attractive television matchups.
The Lady Vols were assigned a No. 10 seed and set up to face an SEC team in Super Regional play (Sweet 16) for the second consecutive year.
It marks the third consecutive season Tennessee fell short of the WCWS.
Tennessee softball box score