KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Electric pitching and a late-inning offensive explosion led No. 4 Tennessee to a 9-0 win over No. 13-seeded Texas Saturday at Sherri Parker Lee Stadium, earning the Lady Vols a trip to the Women's College World Series for the first time in eight years.
UT's trip to Oklahoma City for the WCWS marks the eighth time in program history and the first since 2015.The victory also gives Tennessee 49 wins on the season - the most since winning 52 games in 2013.
Tennessee held a one-run lead through five before tacking on a pair of runs in the sixth. The Lady Vols blew the game open and seized complete control of the contest with six runs in the seventh. UT's nine-run output ties the most-ever runs scored in a super regional game in program history.
Kiki Milloy opened the game with a leadoff double - advancing to third on an error - and was brought home by Zaida Puni who reached on a fielder's choice.
In the circle, Payton Gottshall got the start for the Lady Vols and carried a perfect game into the fifth inning before she allowed a free baserunner on a six-pitch walk. The righty surrendered just two hits on the night - giving up a single in the sixth and seventh.
The senior fanned five batters in the win and improved to 16-1 on the year.
Tennessee added to its one-run lead in the sixth, as Live Oak, Texas, native Destiny Rodriguez laced a single to right to plate Giulia Koutsoyanopulos and Rylie West. Rodriguez started both games of the super regional versus Texas, going 4-for-7 at the plate over the two games.
The Lady Vols scored six runs in the seventh on five hits and two Longhorn errors. Freshman Jamison Brockenbrough continued her hot streak with an RBI single for the first run in the frame. With the bases loaded, Koutsoyanopulos pushed a single into right field that was misplayed and rolled all the way to the wall.
All three runners on base scored as Koutsoyanopulos charged around the diamond and slid in safely at home. Tennessee scored its final run of the game after a pair of singles and a fielder's choice brought Puni to the plate. She yanked a hot shot right at the third baseman who could not field it cleanly, allowing the Lady Vols' ninth and final run of the game to score.
In all, UT collected 10 hits against Texas who also committed five errors in the game. Citlaly Gutierrez got the ball to start the game for the Longhorns, going 5.2 innings and allowing three runs on four hits.
Sophia Simpson came on in relief and recorded two outs but surrendered three runs on two hits. Mac Morgan - Friday night's starter - followed Simpson and also notched just a pair of outs. She gave up three runs on four hits.
Gutierrez suffered the loss and ends the season 13-6.
Wrangling Cattle: Tennessee and Texas are now tied 5-5 in the all-time series with UT holding a 4-1 advantage at home on Rocky Top. In the postseason, the Lady Vols are 3-0 versus the Longhorns.
Record Attendance: A record 2,472 fans filled Sherri Parker Lee Stadium on Saturday to watch as the Lady Vols advanced to the Women's College World Series for the first time in eight seasons. The total surpassed the previous mark of 2,459.
Ticketing Note: The Tennessee Athletics Ticket Office will have no tickets for sale to the Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City. Please visit NCAA.com/tickets for ticket information.
UP NEXT: Tennessee will play in the Women's College World Series for the first time since 2015, facing the winner of the Tuscaloosa Super Regional - Northwestern or Alabama - in its first game in Oklahoma City.