KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Tennessee softball emerged victorious in game one of the Knoxville Super Regional, defeating Texas 5-2 in front of 2,417 fans - the third-highest attended game at Sherri Parker Lee Stadium - Friday evening.
Tennessee (48-8) struck first in the second, pushing four runs across the plate on four hits. With two away and runners on first and second, senior Kiki Milloy laced a single to center to plate Jamison Brockenbrough for UT's first run of the game.
With the next at-bat, junior Zaida Puni launched her 13th home run of the year - a three-run shot - off the scoreboard in left-center to put the Lady Vols up 4-0 after two.
Texas (45-14-1) responded with a run in the top of the third as Bella Dayton knocked a single to center to push Alyssa Popelka across the plate for the Longhorn's first run of the game.
With a pair of runners on in the fifth, junior Rylie West knocked an RBI single to right for Tennessee's fifth run of the game and a little added insurance.
In the top half of the sixth, Texas pushed one run across the plate off a sacrifice fly from Ashton Maloney. The Longhorns continued to threaten as they put runners on first and second courtesy of a double and a walk.
Tennessee starter Ashley Rogers was able to limit the damage and escape the frame without surrendering another run, preserving Tennessee's three-run lead.
The righty returned to the circle for the seventh and induced three pop-outs to retire the side in order and clinch the game-one victory. Rogers went the distance against Texas - tossing her 12th complete game this season - en route to her 18th win in 2023.
The Athens, Tennessee, native stuck out eight and limited the Longhorns' ability to string hits together.
UT scattered seven hits versus Texas, led by Puni's 2-for-3 day at the plate. The third baseman drove in three of Tennessee's five runs.
For Texas, it started Mac Morgan in the pitcher's circle. She threw four innings, allowing five runs on six hits. Estelle Czech came on in relief for the final two frames and held the Lady Vols off the scoreboard. Morgan suffered the loss and is now 18-4 on the year.
Tennessee and Texas will square off Saturday at SPL in game two of the Knoxville Super Regional. The game will air nationally on ABC starting at 3 p.m. ET.