March 8, 2014
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- No. 3/2 Tennessee mounted a late rally in the sixth inning after a two-run homer by Cheyanne Tarango, but the Lady Vols' comeback attempt against Western Kentucky fell short as the Lady Toppers held on to upset UT, 3-2, on Saturday at Sherri Parker Lee Stadium.
Western Kentucky (14-6-1) took control in the third inning, scoring two runs. WKU's lead grew to 3-0 in the fifth. Tarango's homer in the bottom of the sixth drew Tennessee (19-2) to within one run, but the Lady Toppers held on for the win.
Saturday's loss to WKU was Tennessee's first non-conference home loss since falling to Georgia, 1-0, in the NCAA Super Regionals on May 27, 2012. That game was a non-conference game even though Georgia is an SEC team. It was UT's first non-conference home loss to a non-SEC school since falling to Miami (Ohio), 1-0, in the NCAA Regionals on May 18, 2012. The game also marked Tennessee's first regular-season non-conference loss at home since falling to Princeton, 6-0, on March 20, 2003, in the first game of a doubleheader.
Rainey Gaffin (3-1) had three strikeouts and three earned runs allowed over six frames. Erin Gabriel allowed two hits in the sixth and Ellen Renfroe had two strikeouts in the in a scoreless seventh in relief.
WKU's Emily Rousseau (8-5) took the win after totaling 10 strikeouts and allowing two earned runs over seven frames.
The Lady Toppers struck first, scoring two runs in the top half of the third inning. After back-to-back singles by Brooke Holloway and Preslie Cruce and an intentional walk to Amanda Thomas, Kelsie Mattox knocked a two-RBI double to center field.
Western Kentucky added one more run in the top of the fifth. Holloway's single through the left side led to a pitching substitution for UT. Gabriel entered for Gaffin, but her showing was brief. After hitting one batter and allowing two singles, Gaffin reentered for Gabriel, gave up one run on an RBI single by Thomas to right field and worked her way out of the inning.
Tennessee would not go away silently, however. After a Hannah Akamine walk, Tarango blasted a two-run home run to left center in the bottom of the sixth to cut WKU's lead to 3-2. Tarango's home run marked her first of the season.
Tennessee will be back in action on Sunday, hosting Georgia Southern at 2 p.m. and College of Charleston at 4:30 p.m. at Lee Stadium.