KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee softball hasn’t lost a game at Georgia in more than nine years, and the Lady Vols will hope to keep that streak going in NCAA Tournament Super Regional play next week.
Tennessee (48-12) beat Ohio 5-1 on Sunday at Lee Stadium and advance to play the Bulldogs in the best-of-three series next weekend in Athens.
Sophomore Caylan Arnold pitched a four-hit shutout, fanning eight Ohio (40-17) batters while not walking any to run her record to 26-4 for the No 10-seed Lady Vols.
Georgia, the NCAA Tournament’s No. 7 overall seed, reached college softball’s version of the Sweet 16 by beating Northwestern by a 9-7 count on Sunday.
The Bulldogs led the SEC in hitting this season with a collective .336 batting average, well ahead of No. 2 Tennessee (.308).
While the Lady Vols have indeed won nine straight at Georgia dating back to the 2009 season, the Bulldogs have the more recent — and relevant — history on their side.
Georgia became the first program in history to run-rule Tennessee in back-to-back games earlier this season at Lee Stadium, beating the Lady Vols 8-0 and 9-1 in six inning contests on April 1 and April 2.
Tennessee had won 11 in a row in the series before the Bulldogs’ dominant outburst sent a message that Georgia was indeed a contender for the SEC crown.
The Bulldogs left Knoxville not making too much of their impressive accomplishment, however, making it clear they would take nothing for granted moving forward.
The game doesn’t know what happened in the past; the game doesn’t know what’s going to happen in the future,” Georgia second baseman Justice Milz said after the mercy wins in Knoxville. “We played the best this weekend so we came out on top.”
The Bulldogs lost ace pitcher Brittany Gray for the remainder of the season shortly after their wins in Knoxville, however, finishing just 7-6 in their final 13 SEC games.
Tennessee senior star Meghan Gregg said Georgia will see a different Tennessee team.
“That was quite a bit a go, and we’ve definitely done a lot of things to improve our game, we worked on fundamentals more since then,” said Gregg, who will leave the Lady Vols as the program’s all-time leader in home runs, RBIs and slugging percentage.
“I think we were really worried about the big picture when we played Georgia then, and now we’re just working on each pitch, each swing, each inning,” Gregg said. “You saw that through this weekend. We didn’t score first the last two games, and it didn’t even faze us.
“When we played Georgia, I think when they scored one run we were down, and we weren’t coming back up, so I see a big change in our mentality and attitude so I’m excited for next weekend.”
The Lady Vols outscored the competition 26-4 in winning the Knoxville Regional.
Tennessee softball NCAA Regional tourney championship press conference
Posted by Tennessee Volunteers Insiders on Sunday, May 20, 2018