June 6, 2005
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. - With a 3-2 loss to top-ranked Michigan (63-6) on Monday afternoon, the University of Tennessee softball team (67-15) saw its historic season finally come to an end, finishing third at the Women's College World Series in its first appearance.
Tennessee finished its campaign with 67 wins, tied for the most recorded by an NCAA Division I team in history. The 1998 Arizona Wildcats and the Illinois-Chicago Flames of 1999 also won 67 in their respective seasons. The Big Orange won 19 of its last 23 contests to reach the 67 mark.
Michigan took the lead in the bottom of the first. After the first out was recorded, Alessandra Giampaolo slapped the ball in right, down the line, for a single. After a ground out to the circle moved her to second with two gone, Samantha Findlay hit a shot to left just past the grasp of the third baseman to plate Giampaolo.
Two more Wolverine runs in the fourth gave UM a 3-0 advantage. Findlay walked to lead off the frame and, with two outs, crossed home on a blast to left smashed by Stephanie Bercaw.
Freshman pinch hitter Natalie Brock brought Tennessee back to within one at 3-2 with a dramatic two-out two-run double in the top of the fifth. The Lady Vols started the rally with two gone and nobody out. Junior rightfielder Stacey Jennings lined a two-bagger to the left-center fence and sophomore pinch hitter Brittany Bessho reached on an error committed by the pitcher, just beating the throw with a headfirst dive into the bag. After she stole second, Brock lined a shot deep to left and just off the glove of a sprinting leftfielder and into the corner to score Jennings and freshman second baseman Kenora Posey, who re-entered the game in place of Bessho.
With two outs in the seventh, Jennings hit her second double of the contest, this one to the right-center gap, but unfortunately for the Lady Vols, she was stranded there.
The Lady Vols have now completed their season after winning its first regional and super regional championships and advancing to its initial WCWS, placing third.