The No. 3 Tennessee softball team needed some unexpected drama to defeat Campbell University on the opening day of the Tennessee Tournament.
Tied 0-0 in the bottom of the seventh inning, freshman catcher Annie Aldrete stepped to the plate with two outs and runners on first and second base. Aldrete hit a slow groundball to Campbell shortstop Ericka Nesbitt, who fielded it and tried to tag Megan Geer heading to third.
Geer turned around and headed back to second, and instead of running to the third base bag for the force out, Nesbitt fired the ball over the head of the first baseman. This allowed Geer to jog home, and the Lady Vols to walk off with a 1-0 win in dramatic fashion.
“We’ll take it any way we can get it,” Tennessee co-head coach Karen Weekly said. “Certainly that’s unusual, but it was just a tough game. Annie got a ball on the ground, and unfortunately for them threw the ball away, so we were able to get the run in.”
The win over Campbell (13-10) was the Lady Vols (19-1) second of the day as they defeated the Holy Cross Crusaders 5-0 in their first game.
Lexi Overstreet hit a three-run shot in the third inning against Holy Cross to put the Lady Vols up 3-0, providing more than enough support sophomore pitcher Erin Gabriel needed.
Gabriel pitched seven innings of shutout ball, allowing only two hits. She struck out seven, while not allowing a single Holy Cross runner past first base. Gabriel, who sat out last season due to hip surgery, improved her record to 4-0 on the year and threw her second complete game of the season.
“I’m just happy to finally be able to play for this university and with my teammates,” Gabriel said. “I was just feeding off their energy, and they played amazing behind me. Since I was little playing for Tennessee has been one of my dreams.”
Holy Cross pitcher Gennifer Durham held the Lady Vols to only four hits over five innings, but those hits came at costly times for the Crusaders (1-5), while Durham wasn’t able to get any run support from her team.
Tennessee added two more runs in the sixth. Aldrete led off the inning with a triple to left field, and then scored from third on a passed ball by Crusader catcher Abagail Lang.
Senior Melissa Davin followed that with a hit up the middle and later scored on an RBI knock from freshman third baseman Taylor Koenig .
The story of the second game was the performance from senior pitcher Ellen Renfroe. Renfroe tossed her sixth shutout of the season, giving up only two hits while striking out 12 Campbell batters on the night.
Even though the Tennessee bats were struggling, Renfroe has learned to put that out of her mind and just continue to play her game.
“We don’t let what’s going on with the offense affect the defense,” Renfroe said. “Whether we’re scoring every inning, or we’re not scoring at all, I just make sure I have the same mentality and I’m going out and staying focused every pitch.”