3-seed Vols walk off 11-seed MS State in 13-inning win
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- In the longest game in Tennessee softball and SEC Tournament history, Lady Vol senior right-hander Ashley Rogers spun a 13-inning, complete-game shutout for the Big Orange as third-seeded UT earned the 1-0 victory over No. 11 seed Mississippi State in the SEC quarterfinals Thursday afternoon at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium. The Athens, Tennessee, native used 161 total pitches in the marathon outing, going the distance with no runs and three hits allowed while recording seven strikeouts on the afternoon.
Three hours and 58 minutes after first pitch fired, freshman designated player Lair Beautae ended the game with a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the 13th. Facing a 2-2 count, she delivered a base hit to right center that allowed sophomore Rylie West to score the winning run from second and send Tennessee to the SEC semifinals for the second-straight year.
Rogers' outing was the longest in Tennessee history, topping the previous record of 11.0 innings held by former greats Ellen Renfroe (three times), Monica Abbott and current UT pitching coach Megan Rhodes Smith. The 13-inning contest was also the longest in program annals, breaking the record from UT's 12-inning game vs. Oklahoma in the championship series opener at the 2013 Women's College World Series.
Tennessee (39-15) out-hit the Bulldogs 11-3 on the afternoon, with all 11 hits going down as singles. Junior outfielder Kiki Milloy reached base five times and led the Big Orange at the plate, batting 3-for-5 on the day for her 18th multi-hit and second three-hit performance of the season. Sophomore infielder Zaida Puni also logged a multi-hit effort, going 2-for-5 on the day.
Rogers sat down nine of her first 10 batters faced against Mississippi State (33-24) before surrendering a leadoff walk to Bulldog catcher Mia Davidson in the top of the fourth. The 5-10 righty entered cruise control and proceeded to retire 17 consecutive batters before Davidson was walked again in the 9th inning. Two base runners reached in the 11th and 13th innings for MSU, but Rogers was able to escape the threats with a popup and a 5-6-4 double play, respectively.
Super senior shortstop Ivy Davis put on a defensive clinic on Thursday, recording a season-high seven fielding assists and four putouts for the game. She combined with Puni and Anna Fox for the 13th-inning double play that prevented Mississippi State from advancing the go-ahead run into scoring position.
Thursday's performance comes exactly one year after Rogers threw a previous career-high 9.0 innings against Texas A&M in the opening round of the 2021 SEC Tournament. Davis walked that game off with a two-run double to propel the Lady Vols to a 3-2 victory.
With the win over Mississippi State, Tennessee has advanced the SEC semifinal round for the 17th time in program history and the third time in the last four conference tournaments.
UP NEXT: No. 3 seed Tennessee will take on seventh-seeded Missouri on national television with a trip to the SEC Championship Game on the line. The Lady Vols and Tigers will square off Friday afternoon at 3 p.m. on ESPN2.