KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Ole Miss got off to a quick start in Knoxville, Tenn., Friday night against No. 8 Tennessee, but the Rebels couldn’t hold off the Lady Vols and fell 11-6 in the two teams’ series opener.
Ole Miss raced out to a 6-0 lead after 2.5 innings, but the Tennessee bats heated up in the bottom of the third and the Lady Vols stayed hot from there en route to the victory.
“We got off to a great start against a great team that we knew would make a comeback, but we couldn’t figure out Rainey Gaffin,” Ole Miss head coach Windy Thees. “We need to keep our foot on the pedal, stay loose, keep the positives from tonight and go into tomorrow’s game looking to ruin someone’s day.”
Sophomore Madi Osias went 3-4 with a double, two RBIs and one run, while fellow sophomore Melina Preciado had a 2-4 night with two runs scored.
The six runs scored by Ole Miss on Friday night mark the Rebels’ highest run total against the Lady Vols since 2009, and its highest ever run total against the Lady Vols in Knoxville.
Osias got things started for Ole Miss (22-29, 3-19 Southeastern Conference) in the first inning with an RBI double off the very top of the wall in center field that brought home senior outfielder RT Cantillo.
Cantillo gave the Rebels a 2-0 lead in the second inning with a sacrifice fly to center field that brought home Preciado. Sophomore shortstop Haley Culley then roped a double off the center field wall to score junior right fielder Jamie Morgan from second base. Osias brought Culley home in the next at bat with an RBI single to left field. Following a single up the middle by senior first baseman Londen Ladner, redshirt-freshman second baseman Alyssa Invergo reached on a Lady Vol error, scoring Osias from third and giving Ole Miss a 5-0 lead.
With the bases loaded and one out away in the top of the third inning, Culley hit a grounder to second base, but an errant throw home by the Lady Vols allowed Preciado to score and give the Rebels a 6-0 lead.
Tennessee (40-9, 15-7 SEC) came back in the bottom half of the inning with an RBI single up the middle by shortstop Madison Shipman, followed by back-to-back home runs from Annie Aldrete and Melissa Davin to pull within two of the Rebels at 6-4.
Aldrete hit her second home run of the game, a solo shot, in the fourth inning to bring the Lady Vols within one at 6-5.
The Lady Vols completed their comeback in the bottom of the fifth with a two-RBI double up the middle by Rainey Gaffin that got all the way to the wall.
Tennessee closed out the scoring in the game with four more runs in the bottom of the sixth on three hits, including a bases clearing double by Gaffin.
The Rebels and Lady Vols’ three-game series will continue Saturday with first pitch scheduled for 1 p.m. CT. The series finale will start at 12 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday’s games will each be available at WatchESPN.com, while Sunday’s game will be carried by Fox Sports Net. Dave Baker and Cheri Kempf will be on the call.
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