TEMPE, Ariz. — Tennessee softball left Arizona on a high note Sunday, one day after rallying from a five-run deficit against No. 15-ranked Utah for a 6-5 victory.
Lady Vols senior All-American Meghan Gregg, the 2017 SEC Player of the Year, said the season-opening tournament served its purpose.
“Going 6-0 in Tempe was a good start for us. We got to see a lot of strengths and weaknesses here, and we know what we need to work on when we get back home,” said Gregg, who led the team with a .471 batting average in the Kajikawa Classic at Arizona State University. “We’re going to celebrate the win, but we’ve got a lot of things to work on.”
Gregg was walked in five of her eight plate appearances in Friday’s action, but the Williamson, Ga., product said she’s learned to take it in stride.
“I don’t think it frustrates me at all,” Gregg said, “I have really good hitters behind me that will back me up. If I’m getting on base, that sets the table for someone behind to do the job.”
That’s what happened Saturday, as Gregg led off the bottom of the seventh inning with a double to ignite a three-run rally capped by Abby Lockman’s walk-off double.
Lockman said she plans to grow in that role, so that future opponents will have to think twice about pitching around Gregg.
“I want to contribute a lot more, back up Meghan Gregg and Chelsea Seggern [in the batting order] and be that big strong hitter in the middle of the lineup,” Lockman said, “so they don’t think they can pitch around Meghan Gregg.”
Seggern exited Arizona second on the team with a .350 batting average with two home runs and 9 RBIs. Scarlet McSwain is the team leader in home runs (3) and RBIs (10).
The Lady Vols opened last season 13-0 but didn’t face the same level of competition they’ve already faced this season, beating only one ranked opponent (Oklahoma) in those first 13 games of the 2017 season.
Tennessee has two wins over ranked opponents already this season, No. 15 Utah and No. 18 Arizona State.
This marks the ninth time in Ralph and Karen Weekly’s previous 16 seasons that the Lady Vols have opened a season with six straight wins.
Tennessee softball notes
- Tennessee’s 7-4 win over Arizona State in its tourney opener on Thursday snapped the Sun Devils 22-game win streak in season-opening games.
- Leadoff hitter Aubrey Leach drew 8 walks in 24 plate appearances, ahead of Gregg’s 6 walks in 23 plate appearances.
- Scarlet McSwain led the Lady Vols with 3 home runs in the tourney and Gregg and Chelsea Seggern hit 2 home runs each.
- Tennessee improved to 33-3 in season-opening tournaments in the 17 years the program has been coached by co-head coaches Ralph and Karen Weekly.
- Freshman pitcher Gabby Sprang won her first outing, coming on in relief against Arizona State, but she left needing to work on her control. Sprang walked 6 batters in the 9 1/3 innings she pitched and yielded 10 hits with a 3.00 ERA.
- Junior Matty Moss opens the season as staff ace and closer. Moss went 3-0 with a 0.70 ERA in 20 innings pitched, also recording a save.
- Sophomore Caylan Arnold is still getting her breaking pitches dialed in after winning one of her four starts in Arizona, finishing with a 4.97 ERA in 12 2/3 innings pitched.
The post WATCH: Tennessee softball’s Meghan Gregg reflects on amazing opening tourney appeared first on SEC Country.
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