No. 8 Texas softball falls short to No. 4 Tennessee, loses first game of Knoxville Super Regional

Tori Garcia, General Sports Reporter

The No. 8 Texas Longhorns approached the first game of the Knoxville Super Regional matchup on Friday against Tennessee hopeful and feeling prepared, but the reality of the outcome proved otherwise.

Before the start of Friday’s game, the Longhorns knew they had an uphill battle facing the Volunteers. Playing in Knoxville, instead of Red & Charline McCombs Field in Austin with a home field advantage, was going to be a challenge.

“I’ll miss the fans more than anything,” Ashton Maloney, redshirt freshman and outfielder, said. “It’s just nice having a home crowd, home fans behind us. Obviously, playing away is a challenge within itself, but not being able to have our home crowd can be difficult.”

Volunteer Kiki Milloy, senior outfielder, was also seen to be a threat to the Texas pitchers even before the start of the Knoxville Super Regional series. With a .427 batting percentage, 55 RBIs and a 1.007 slugging percentage, Texas head coach Mike White knew the damage she was capable of doing for Tennessee, but he had a plan to keep her contained.

“Well, she’s not batting 1.000, she’s batting under .500, so she’s making an out half the time,” White said. “We just have to make sure we get the half. That’s the important thing. But we have to make sure we are pitching carefully and pick certain situations to go at her. Hopefully, we can get some runs and be able to challenge her a little bit, otherwise we’ll have to pitch around her a little bit.”

The Volunteers came out to a strong start on Friday, facing Texas sophomore and right-handed pitcher Mac Morgan. After the second inning, Tennessee was up by four runs.

Texas tried to narrow the score deficit in the third inning with a RBI single by junior outfielder Bella Dayton, however, the Volunteers bounced right back in the fifth inning with a single-score RBI.

As predicted, Milloy is a dangerous weapon for Tennessee and was walked by Morgan on her first plate appearance in order to keep her out of the batter’s box for as long as possible. Although Texas was able to contain Milloy to only one hit and one RBI from her three at bats, Milloy’s teammates were able to step up to the plate.

The Volunteers defeated the Longhorns 5-2 on Friday, which marked Texas’ first loss in the NCAA Tournament.