LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Tennessee took advantage of five unearned runs in the first two innings of the game after three Kentucky errors, leading the Lady Vols to a 6-3 series-opening win against the ninth-ranked Wildcats on Friday night at John Cropp Stadium.
Tennessee (37-8, 12-6 SEC) scored three runs in the first inning, marking the fifth consecutive game that UK has fallen behind by multiple runs to start a game. The UT runs were all scored with two outs behind the help of two Kentucky errors, two walks and a hit batter. A one-out walk started the rally, which was followed by a potential double-play ball to third base with UK only able to get the lead runner out. A hit by pitch and a walk loaded the bases with two outs for Cheyanne Tarango, who reached on a fielding error to score the game’s first run. Nunley got a ground ball off the bat of Lexi Overstreet that was also mishandled by UK, allowing two runs to score and give the Lady Vols a 3-0 lead.
UT increased its lead in the top of the second inning after a UK error extended the inning to Tennessee catcher Annie Aldrete, who launched a two-run home run to put the Lady Vols up 5-0. Aldrete hit a leadoff home run in the fourth inning for the Lady Vols’ sixth and final run of the game. The freshman ended the game 2-for-4 with two homers, three RBI and three runs scored.
Kentucky (39-10, 12-7) started Kelsey Nunley in the circle with the sophomore throwing seven innings, only allowing five Tennessee hits and one earned run with six strikeouts. It marked only the 11th time this season the high-powered Tennessee offense had been limited to five hits or less, while it was only the fourth time UT has been outhit and still won. Nunley received the tough-luck loss to move to 20-5 on the season.
Offensively, Kentucky posted seven hits in the game off Tennessee ace Ellen Renfroe, who went seven innings, allowing three runs – two earned – with five strikeouts. Sophomore outfielder Sylver Samuel went 2-for-4 in the game with a run scored and now has a hit in 19 of her last 25 games and a run scored in 19 of her last 26 games played. Senior outfielder Emily Gaines had an RBI single and senior infielder Krystal Smith had a two-RBI double in the second inning. Senior outfielder Emily Jolly and sophomore infielders Nikki Sagermann and Ansley Smith each had hits in the game.