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SOFTBALL PREVIEW: Knoxville regional

For the 16th consecutive NCAA Tournament, Tennessee is hosting a regional as the No. 9-seeded Lady Vols welcome Liberty, James Madison and Eastern Kentucky to Sherri Parker Lee Stadium.
Tennessee softball
Tennessee softball(Tennessee Athletic Communications)
Updated: May. 20, 2021 at 11:08 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - For the 16th consecutive NCAA Tournament, Tennessee is hosting a regional as the No. 9-seeded Lady Vols welcome Liberty, James Madison and Eastern Kentucky to Sherri Parker Lee Stadium.

The Knoxville Regional is a double-elimination tournament and will run Friday, May 21 through Sunday, May 23 with the winner advancing to the NCAA Super Regional.

CAPACITY EXPANDED

On Wednesday, the NCAA Medical Advisory Group announced that venue capacity for 2021 Spring NCAA Championships conducted outdoors will be determined by state/local guidelines and may increase to 100 percent.

As a result of the announcement, this weekend’s NCAA Knoxville Regional will see softball attendance at Sherri Parker Lee Stadium expand to 100 percent capacity.

BROADCAST INFO

Game one of the of regional between Liberty and James Madison will be broadcast on ESPNU beginning at noon ET and will be followed by Tennessee vs. Eastern Kentucky on ESPN3/WatchESPN at 2:30. Tiffany Greene (play-by-play) and Erin Miller (color) will call the action all weekend.

GAME SCHEDULE

Friday

Game 1: Liberty vs. James Madison | 12 p.m. | ESPNU

Game 2: Tennessee vs. Eastern Kentucky | 2:30 p.m. | ESPN3/WatchESPN

Saturday

Game 3: G1 Winner vs. G2 Winner | 12 p.m.

Game 4: G1 Loser vs. G2 Loser | 2:30 p.m.

Game 5: G3 Loser vs. G4 Winner | 5 p.m.

Sunday

Game 6: G3 Winner vs. G5 Winner | 12 p.m.

Game 7: G6 Winner vs. G6 Loser (If necessary) | 2:30 p.m.

Need to Know

Tennessee enters the NCAA Tournament after reaching the SEC Tournament Semifinal last week. The Lady Vols defeated Texas A&M and SEC regular season Co-Champions Arkansas before falling to eventual SEC Tournament Champions Alabama.

UT has hosted a regional every year since the format began in 2005. That ties Alabama and Florida for the longest active hosting streak in the nation.

The Lady Vols had four players earn NFCA Southeast All-Region Team accolades, led by Ashley Rogers and Kiki Milloy who landed first team honors. Ashley Morgan and Amanda Ayala were tabbed to the second team.

FAMILIAR FOES

Tennessee has seen Liberty and Eastern Kentucky already in 2021 as both programs made the trek to Knoxville during the regular season. The Lady Vols opened the year at Sherri Parker Lee against EKU, winning both games of a doubleheader – 10-0 in five innings in game one and 3-2 in game two.

Liberty traveled to Rocky Top for a March 30 showdown, which went Tennessee’s way as it defeated the Flames, 6-0.

SCOUTING EASTERN KENTUCKY

2021 Record: 35-15 Overall, 22-9 OVC

Series Record: Tennessee Leads – 12-0

Last Meeting: A 3-2 victory for the Lady Vols in the Knoxville doubleheader on February 14, 2021, which was preceded by a 10-0 shutout win.

Key Player/Stat: In addition to having three games canceled in the month of May, the Colonels lost the final four regular season games that they played. EKU responded with a strong showing at the OVC Tournament, taking the tournament title and defeating top-seeded Southeast Missouri State twice in as many days to take home the conference crown. Redshirt junior outfielder Sammi Miller leads the Colonels with a season batting average of .419. Miller, while also holding team-best totals of 62 hits and 50 runs, is 16-of-18 when attempting to steal a base this season. Redshirt junior first baseman Carly Robinson leads EKU with 40 RBIs this year. The Colonels are batting .263 as a team this season and recorded an ERA of 3.42.

SCOUTING JAMES MADISON

2021 Record: 34-1 Overall, 17-1 CAA

Series Record: Tennessee Leads – 3-2

Last Meeting: A 2-6 loss for the Lady Vols in Clearwater, Florida, on February 16, 2019.

Key Player/Stat: The Dukes of James Madison travel to the NCAA Knoxville Regionals having lost just one game this season. With a record of 34-1, JMU is ranked No. 22 in the USA TODAY/NFCA Coaches Poll. Redshirt junior Sara Jubas, leads the Dukes with a season batting average of .427 on 100 at-bats. She has scored 39 runs and accumulated 29 RBIs this season. Redshirt senior Kate Gordon is batting .417 and has posted 48 hits, 17 home runs, a team-high 52 RBIs and scored 40 runs this season. Redshirt senior infielder Madison Naujokas has been successful in each of 23 attempts to steal a base this season. As a team, the Dukes are batting .335 this season, while holding opponents to just .163 from the plate on the year.

SCOUTING LIBERTY

2021 Record: 42-13 Overall, 16-2 ASUN

Series Record: Tennessee Leads – 20-0

Last Meeting: A 6-0 shutout victory for the Lady Vols in Knoxville this season on March 30, 2021.

Key Player/Stat: The Liberty Lady Flames arrive in Knoxville on fire, having won 21 of their past 22 games. Liberty finished the season with a record of 42-13 and won 16 of their 18 ASUN games. They went on to win the ASUN Tournament, defeating second-seeded Kennesaw State. Sophomore Kara Canetto leads Liberty this season with a batting average of .388 on 178 at-bats. She has recorded 69 hits and scored 36 runs. Senior Amber Bishop-Riley holds a team-high 16 home runs on the year, while her sister, Autumn Bishop owns a team-best 19 doubles this season. The Bishop sisters are two of the three players for the Lady Flames batting above .300. Liberty, as a team, is batting .296 this year.

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