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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Tennessee shuts out Florida in SEC Tournament quarterfinals

The Lady Volunteers held Florida to just three hits through seven innings

Florida softball lines up before its 13-4 win over the Georgia Bulldogs Friday, April 14, 2023.
Florida softball lines up before its 13-4 win over the Georgia Bulldogs Friday, April 14, 2023.

Tennessee sophomore outfielder Katie Taylor advanced to first after she reached on a fielding error. Taylor was then brought home by senior outfielder Kiki Milloy after she homered to left field to extend Tennessee's lead by two runs in the bottom of the second inning. 

Millroy’s home run set the tone for the rest of the game as the Lady Volunteers held Florida scoreless with just three hits through seven innings. Tennessee only scored one more run during the game in the bottom of the fourth after junior infielder Zaida Puni doubled to left field, and brought Milloy home to secure the four-run victory. 

The No. 8 seed Florida Gators (35-19, 11-13 SEC) lost to the No. 1 seed Tennessee Lady Volunteers (41-7, 19-4 SEC) 4-0 in the quarterfinals of the Southeastern Conference Tournament Friday at Bogle Park in Fayetteville, Arkansas. 

“I told our team after the game at the end of the day most of the roles are established, and we are who we are,” Florida head coach Tim Walton said. “I want our team to take every single moment and not take it for granted and play like it's your last.” 

Tennessee pitcher Ashley Rodgers struck out Florida redshirt junior Skylar Wallace to start the top half of the first. UF sophomore center fielder Kendra Falby singled through left field and then advanced to second on a stolen base. 

Rodgers gave up a walk to Gators sophomore second baseman Reagan Walsh, but a pop-up from Florida graduate student utility player Pal Egan left Walsh stranded on first to end the half. 

Volunteers junior infielder Zaida Puni singled past UF senior left-handed pitcher Rylee Trlicek to start the bottom of the first. Puni then advanced to second after Trlicek walked Tennessee sophomore infielder McKenna Gibson.

Volunteers junior catcher Riley West reached on a fielder's choice to advance Puni to third. Then Tennessee sophomore infielder Lair Beautae singled through left field and brought Puni home to score the game's first run.

Rodgers held Florida scoreless through the second. She struck out both Gators junior outfielder Katie Kistler and senior utility player Sarah Longley to end the top half of the second. 

Taylor advanced to first after she reached on a fielding error early in the bottom of the inning. She was brought home by Milloy after she homered deep to left field to extend the Volunteerslead to 3-0 to end the second inning.

Wallace followed the first out of the third inning with a single through  right field, but was caught out at second after Falby reached on a fielder's choice. 

Rodgers then walked UF graduate student third baseman Charla Echols to advance Falby to second base. Walsh failed to bring in a run after she struck out swinging to end the top half. 

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West singled through the left side, but was caught out at second after Beautae reached on a fielder's choice for the first out of the bottom of the third

Tennessee senior infielder Makenzie Donihoo reached on a fielder's choice and Beautae advanced to second due to a throwing error from Florida sophomore catcher Sam Roe. However, Volunteers junior outfielder Giulia Koutsoyanopulos lined into a double play and Donihoo was caught out on the play to end the third inning. 

Rodgers continued to hold the Gators scoreless after she struck out UF freshman infielder Kaila Pollard and Kistler to end the top of the fourth.

In the bottom frame, Milloy was hit by a pitch from Trlicek to advance to first. Zuni then brought Milloy home after she doubled to left field to push the Volunteers lead to 4-0. Tennessee freshman outfielder Brylee Mesusan then pinch ran for Puni.

Trlicek walked Gibson. She advanced to second after Trlicek gave up another walk to West to load up the bases.. Beautae failed to bring in a run to end the fourth inning.

Rodgers walked Wallace to start the fifth inning. Falby then singled to third base —where Wallace advanced to third on a throwing error from Puni — but Echols failed to bring Wallace home after she grounded out to Rodgers. 

Florida graduate student right-handed pitcher Elizabeth Hightower replaced Trlicek in the bottom of the fifth. Tennessee freshman outfielder Jamison Brockenbrough singled through the right side and advanced to second on a wild pitch, but Hightower struck out Taylor before any runs were scored to end the fifth inning.

UF didn’t score in the sixth inning and was held scoreless to close the game. Puni singled to left field and advanced to second base on a throwing error in the bottom of the sixth. 

Gibson was then hit by a pitch to advance to first.Volunteers freshman outfielder Amanda Ahlin pinch ran for Gibson. Beautae lined out to Hightower which ended the sixth inning. 

The Gators couldn't mount a comeback in the seventh and Tennessee ended the game with a 4-0 victory over Florida.

UF will continue its season in the National Collegiate Athletic Association Regionals starting May 18th.

Contact Alyssa Britton-Harr at abritton-harr@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter @abrittonharr.

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Alyssa Britton-Harr

Alyssa Britton-Harr is a second-year journalism major and a sports reporter for The Alligator. In her free time, she enjoys cheering on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and spending time with her friends. 


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