GAINESVILLE, Fla. – No. 7 Tennessee toppled the No. 4 Gators, 9-1, in five innings on Friday, hitting four home runs in the top-10 matchup to take Game 1 of the series at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium and open SEC play with a 1-0 record.
UT (17-2) is now 15-8 in SEC openers since 1997 and owns 27 wins against Florida (21-3, 0-1 SEC) in the overall series, seven of which have been in Gainesville.
In the come-from-behind win, the Lady Vols registered key performances from freshmen Kaili Phillips ( 2-for-3, 3 RBI) and Ally Shipman (2-for-2, 2 RBI) and junior Cailin Hannon (2-for-3, 4 RBI). All three players recorded home runs off of Florida’s Kelly Barnhill, the reigning SEC Pitcher of the Year, and gave her just her second loss of the season.
UF added what would be its lone run of the game to the board in the first, using a hit and two free passes to load the bases before scoring on a walk issued to Jordan Matthews.
The Lady Vols put runners on in the second and third innings before finding an offensive groove in the fourth that led to a three-home run frame.
Phillips led off with a solo shot to left-center to tie up the contest at 1-1. With one out, Haley Bearden then singled to right and set up a two-run bomb by Shipman to the same spot left of the scoreboard. In the next at-bat Gracie Osbron reached on a one-bagger up the middle before Hannon blasted a two-run long ball to right center.
Continuing to pour it on, the Lady Vols scratched four more runs across on four hits in the fifth to bring the run rule into play. Amanda Ayala kicked things off with a single before Phillips knocked her second homer of the game to right field. Hannon then came up with her second big hit of the night as two runs scored on a drilled ball through the right side for the 9-1 final.
Senior pitcher Matty Moss, who entered with one out and two runners on in the first, dealt 4.2 innings. She allowed just two hits and struck out two of her 19 batters faced to pick up her fifth run of the season. The Greenville, S.C., native and Tennessee’s defense didn’t permit a runner to reach second base after the first inning.
PHILLIPS GOES YARD: Freshman Kaili Phillips hit home runs in back-to-back at-bats to extend her team lead to eight long balls on the season. She is the first Lady Vol since Madison Shipman in 2014 to hit homers in four straight games. Of Phillip’s last 14 at-bats, eight have been hits with six being home runs.
FLORIDA FIRSTS: Tennessee’s 9-1 run-rule of Florida on Friday marks the first time in series history that the Lady Vols run-ruled the Gators in Gainesville. It’s the first time since April 9, 2006, that UT has beaten UF in less than seven innings. The 2006 squad downed the Gators 8-0 in Knoxville in six frames in the series finale.
ON DECK: Game 2 of the series is scheduled for a 1 p.m. ET first pitch on Saturday, March 9. The game will be aired on SECN+/WatchESPN App and there will be a live radio broadcast on Sports Radio WNML AM 990 and FM 99.1. Fans can also listen to the game from the UT Gameday App or by clicking the “Listen” link on the schedule page. A live stats link is also available on the schedule page.