Two home runs by freshman Annie Aldrete and one by junior Cheyanne Tarango boosted No. 2 Tennessee to a 9-2 victory against arch rival No. 4 Florida in front of a crowd of 1,682 at Lee Stadium Friday night in the first of a three-game series.
The win extends UT's conference record to 6-1 and drops Florida's SEC record to 5-5.
Aldrete's two three-run homers were her sixth and seventh of the season, while Tarango's was her second this season.
"It was great," Aldrete said. "Obviously, Florida is a great team, great program. So to come out here and get it done for my team felt amazing."
In the circle for the Lady Vols was senior Ellen Renfroe, who remains undefeated on the season at 19-0. In a complete game seven innings of work, Renfroe allowed six hits and one earned run along with seven strikeouts.
Renfroe had a shaky start to the game by getting behind against many of the hitters early, but co-head coach Karen Weekly said it was Renfroe's "maturity" that allowed her to settle in.
"It's about making adjustments," co-head coach Karen Weekly said. "... Florida's a very disciplined team. They're patient hitters and they're not going to chase a lot of pitches. We know that.
"I just kept telling Ellen, 'You've got to attack the strike zone.' ... I think she got better at that as the game went along."
Friday's game started out uneasy for the Lady Vols after a missed fielding opportunity for freshman third baseman Taylor Koenig and an error by the normally reliable senior shortstop Madison Shipman in the first two innings.
After a scoreless first inning, the Gators had the bases loaded with two outs in the second and an opportunity to take an early lead. Kelsey Stewart stepped up to bat and nearly opened the scoring for UF with a liner to left field, but senior Melissa Davin made a diving catch to keep the game on level terms.
The fielding woes for the Lady Vols continued in the third inning with an error by sophomore center field Rainey Gaffin that allowed the Florida to take a 1-0 lead.
After a couple of strikeouts from Renfroe, it was Tennessee's turn to strike back.
Freshmen Megan Geer and Davin both hit singles to set the stage for Aldrete to take the spotlight.
Aldrete was happy to act as the team's "picker upper," as she referred to herself, with a three run shot to right field to give UT a 3-1 lead in the third inning.
"Obviously, we haven't played as many good teams as Florida," Aldrete said. "They're the best team we've played so to come out here and get it done as a freshman feels pretty amazing."
Gaffin extended the lead for the Lady Vols the following inning off of an RBI double for Geer.
Florida quickly responded with a home run of their own by Kirsti Merritt over the scoreboard in left-center field in the fifth inning.
Tennessee answered with Tarango's two run home run in the bottom of the fifth to make the score 6-2.
Aldrete all but sealed the game for the Lady Vols by hitting a home run over the scoreboard herself to give UT the 9-2 victory.
The score is a repeat of the last game between the two teams where Tennessee beat Florida in the Women's College World Series 9-2 as well.
The next game in the series is Saturday at 1 p.m. at Lee Stadium and can be seen on Comcast Sports South or ESPN3.