Three-run first frame carries No. 4 UT past No. 10 LSU
BATON ROUGE, La. - True freshman Karlyn Pickens tossed a gem on Saturday as she helped guide the second-ranked Lady Vols to their second straight shutout of No. 10 LSU and consecutive SEC series victories. UT knocked off the Tigers 3-0 at Tiger Park, notching its fourth shutout in league competition.
Making her second start in SEC play, Pickens locked down the LSU batters, allowing just one hit on the night and fanning nine. The Weaverville, North Carolina, native surrendered only two walks and improved to 5-1 on the year with the win.
The victory is Pickens' second against a top-10 opponent - the righty helped Tennessee knock off No. 5 Clemson on Feb. 25.
In conference play, she has thrown two complete-game one-hit shutouts - defeating Ole Miss and LSU.
With the victory, Tennessee (23-1, 5-0 SEC) has won 18 straight games - recording 14 shutouts during that span - and is off to the program's best-ever start in SEC play.
The Lady Vols struck early in the first inning, using a little two-out magic to push across the only runs they needed for the win. With two outs in the top of the first, sophomore Lair Beautae knocked a single to third base - setting the table for junior Zaida Puni.
Working with a 1-1 count, Puni took the third pitch of the at-bat deep over the wall in center for her fifth home run of the season - putting Tennessee up 2-0. The Big Orange continued the two-out rally as McKenna Gibson drew a walk to bring up Rylie West.
West then lined a double down the right field line, sending Gibson racing around for home to score UT's third run of the inning.
It was all pitching and defense the rest of the way for Tennessee as Pickens held LSU hitless until the fourth inning when Ciara Briggs broke through for the Tigers' only hit.
LSU (23-4, 2-3 SEC) threatened to score in the fourth as it had runners on first and second with only one away in the inning. In a jam, Pickens battled back to get a strikeout and a groundout to keep the Tigers off the board.
Tiger freshman Sydney Berzon went the distance in the pitcher's circle, allowing three runs on seven hits, walking two and striking out four. She suffered the loss and is now 7-2 this season.
Tennessee will go for the sweep on Sunday as it squares off against LSU in the series finale at 2 p.m. ET. The game can be streamed on SEC Network+ or heard on UTsports.com.