The Tennessee softball team finally put an end to its longest losing streak for the year.
The sixth-ranked Lady Vols ended a prolonged hitting slump with a 6-2 win Sunday at No. 15 Florida. The Gators took both games on Saturday to pass the Lady Vols for second place in the SEC East and push Tennessee’s losing streak to four games.
The weekend set marked the second straight series lost by the Lady Vols (45-9, 13-6 SEC), who won each of their first five conference series.
UT pounded out 11 hits in the series finale, their first double-digit hit count since recording 12 during a 10-0 victory at Virginia on March 24.
Freshman first baseman Tonya Callahan went 3-for-4 with three RBIs, including a double and a home run, to lead the offensive onslaught. Third baseman Kristi Durant and freshman catcher Shannon Doepking each went 2-for-4, with Durant adding two RBIs and a run scored.
Junior left fielder Katherine Card had an RBI triple in the top of the second inning.
“Tonya, Kristi and (Card) all had key RBI hits for us today,” UT co-coach Karen Weekly said. “We challenged our team (Saturday) night to be better with runners in scoring position, and they met the challenge (Sunday).”
Florida (34-12, 13-5) tied the game at 2-2 in the fourth, but Tennessee scored the final four runs of the game to take the win.
Callahan drove in the go-ahead run in the top of the fifth with a solo home run to left field. UT scored three more runs in the sixth to put its lead out of reach.
“We’re proud of our kids for the effort they gave today,” Weekly said.
The Gators still took the series with a pair of one-run victories on Saturday thanks to what UT co-coach Ralph Weekly called “the worst offensive slump I’ve experienced in a lot of years as a coach.”
UT sophomore pitcher Monica Abbott was outdueled in both Saturday games. In the first game, the left-hander allowed two runs on two hits in four innings while walking four and striking out nine.
In the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader, Abbott saw seven shutout innings go to waste as the Gators won 2-1 on an unearned run in the bottom of the eighth.
Tennessee squandered a bases-loaded opportunity in the sixth inning with the score still tied before Florida won in extra innings.
“Times like this tend to be cyclical, and we’ll come out of it,” Ralph Weekly said Saturday.
The Lady Vols did just that on Sunday, bringing their bats back to life just in time to salvage an important game from an SEC East rival.
“Florida’s a good opponent, as is every team in the SEC, and this was a tough series,” Karen Weekly said. “We felt we had an opportunity to win both games one and two (on Saturday), but Florida prevailed in two close games.”
Tennessee visits Austin Peay for a doubleheader today at 3:30 before hosting division-leading Georgia (41-9, 22-2) for a three-game series starting Saturday at Tyson Park.