The Lady Volunteers ended Wednesday night with a bang against in-state rival Tennessee Tech.
After letting the Golden Eagles (16-18) hang around for the first four and half innings, No. 3 Tennessee (35-6) stepped on the gas in the bottom of the fifth, scoring six runs that included a game-ending three-run home run by senior second baseman Lauren Gibson to give the Lady Vols the 12-3 victory.
"When I get up there, I don't really have a pitch, I mean if I like it I just swing and hope it goes far," Gibson said laughing.
And go far it did, a no-doubter that sailed well over the center field wall and ended the game on a run rule.
The Lady Vols took a break from a grueling SEC schedule and even though this win marks the 12th straight for Tennessee, the third ranked team in the nation wasn't about to overlook in-state rival Tennessee Tech.
"Whenever we come out we just focus and think that's the number one team on the field, we don't care what the name is across their chest, we just play them like they're the best," Gibson said.
Tennessee opened up the scoring with three runs in the bottom of the second inning, including a solo home run by sophomore starting pitcher Cheyanne Tarango. They added another run in the bottom of the third after a leadoff double by junior shortstop Madison Shipman led to a one-out sacrifice bunt by senior Melissa Brown to make it a 4-0 game.
But the Golden Eagles were able to keep the game close. Tech shortstop Hannah Eldridge cranked a solo home run to lead off the fourth. The blast made it a 4-1 game and after Tennessee got two runs in the fourth, Tech answered with two runs of their own in the top of the fifth to cut the Tennessee back to three.
"They are a great in-state opponent and whenever we play an in-state team they always bring their A-game against us," senior Raven Chavanne said.
But it was the bottom of the fifth when the Lady Vols exerted their dominance on the in-state rival. They tallied six runs on three hits, including the game-ender by Gibson. This marks the 78th consecutive win against in-state opponents and makes the Lady Vols 107-3 all-time against teams from Tennessee.
Chavanne had a solid game out of the leadoff spot, getting on base three times on two hits and scoring two runs with one stolen base. She also earned an RBI on a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the fifth inning.
"I was just trying to reach base any way I can, I don't care if it's by error, walk, hit, whatever they give me I'll take," Chavanne said.
After another good Chavanne performance, Tennessee co-head coach Ralph Weekly took the time to praise the senior third baseman's versatility and talent.
"Raven can beat you in a lot of ways," he said. "There won't be another Raven."
The Lady Vols will be back at it this weekend, as they host SEC rival Auburn for a three game series at Lee Stadium in Knoxville.