KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee's No. 17 Chelsea Seggern gave the Volunteers their 17th straight win with walk-off single in the bottom of the seventh inning for a 3-2, come-from-behind victory in the series opener against No. 9 Alabama on Saturday night in front of a season-high, sellout crowd of 1,935 at Sherri Parker Lee Stadium.
The win extended No. 14 UT's winning streak to 17 games, which is the longest current win streak in Division I softball. Saturday's win also marked the first time this season that the Big Orange have rallied for a win when trailing after five innings (previously 0-4).
While pitching was the story early in the contest, the Vols (38-5, 10-3 SEC) rallied to tie the game with two runs in the sixth. The Crimson Tide (36-8, 10-6 SEC) gave up very little to UT's offense through the first five frames thanks to an impressive performance from ace Alexis Osorio.
Caylan Arnold was equally as impressive and earned the win for Tennessee, improving her record to 17-4 on the season. The Maryville, Tenn., native threw her sixth complete game of the year, striking out six and allowing just two runs on three hits. The win was her sixth over a ranked opponent this season.
Alabama broke the scoreless tie with a pair of runs in the top of the fourth, as Sydney Booker's two-out triple scored Reagan Dykes and Bailey Hemphill to put the Crimson Tide ahead, 2-0.
Tennessee came knocking on the door in the bottom half of the fourth with runners on second and third, but Osorio was once again up to the challenge and struck out Taylor Rowland to end the inning. The junior right-hander finished with eight strikeouts and yielded all three runs in six innings pitched to fall to 18-5 on the year.
The Vols finally broke through in the sixth when Brooke Vines singled up the middle to score Megan Geer to cut the deficit to one. With the hit, Vines extended her on-base streak to 18 straight games. After UT loaded the bases, Rowland hit a ground ball up the first base line that sent pinch runner Sheridan Allen racing to home plate. Allen beat the hurried throw to tie the game at two.
After Arnold retired the Tide in order in the top of the seventh, Aubrey Leach led off the bottom half with a double to left field. Tennessee was able to load the bases with no outs for the second straight inning after back-to-back walks by Geer and Meghan Gregg, however, a fielder's choice and a fly out sent Seggern to the plate in a pressure-packed situation. The Texas native came through with a sharp liner that went off the tip of Bama second baseman Claire Jenkins' glove and into right field for the game-winning, walk-off single. Seggern was the only player on either team to record a multi-hit game as she also had the first hit of the contest with a single in the second inning.
THE STREAK CONTINUES: Saturday's win was Tennessee's 17th in a row, which is now the longest active win streak in Division I softball. The Vols have not lost a game since March 18 at Arkansas.
PRIMETIME PERFORMERS: Tennessee freshmen Caylan Arnold and Chelsea Seggern have proven this season that the bigger the moment, the better they perform. Arnold has now beaten six ranked teams this season with victories over then No. 4 Oklahoma, No. 25 North Carolina, No. 23 Ole Miss (twice), No. 20 Kentucky and No. 9 Alabama. Seggern has been just as clutch with three game-winning hits, two of them in walk-off fashion in wins over Alabama and Jacksonville State. She also had UT's game-winning hit in its win over the Sooners earlier in the season.
UP NEXT: The Vols and Tide are back at it again tomorrow night at 7 p.m. for Game 2 of the series. The game will air live on the SEC Network. Fans can also listen to the game on Sports Radio WNML (FM 99.1/AM 990) and UTSports.com.