Lady Vols lose regular season finale to South Carolina

The Gamecocks take game three, 4-2.
Packed stadium for the final regular season game for the Lady Vols
Packed stadium for the final regular season game for the Lady Vols(wvlt)
Published: May. 7, 2023 at 6:25 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - No. 4 Tennessee lost its regular-season finale to South Carolina, 4-2, Sunday afternoon.

Similar to Saturday, the Lady Vols started strong when senior Kiki Milloy stepped up to the plate in the first inning and blasted a solo shot over center field to put the Lady Vols up one after the game’s opening frame. A shot that broke her day-old program record for single-season home runs, now set at 21.

Previous Coverage: Lady Vols clinch the 2023 SEC Regular Season Title

UT held South Carolina scoreless through give, but the Gamecocks recorded its first run in the sixth with outfielder Riley Blampied roping an RBI single to left field and leveling the game at one.

The Gamecocks broke the tie in the top of the seventh, pushing across three runs. A solo shot by Marissa Gonzalez and a two-run double by Blampied gave the Gamecocks a three-run lead entering the bottom half of the seventh.

Zaida Puni would deliver once again at the dish, with one on and two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Puni laced the pitch deep to left-center field and just barely missed clearing the outfield wall, so they’d settle for an RBI double to cut USC’s lead to two.

The Lady Vols failed to muster any more offense, an effort coach Karen Weekly was not pleased with.

“To me it’s not enough to decide we’re going to get on the attack in the seventh inning, it’s too little too late,” said Weekly. “You got to compete. You’ve got to be a competitor. I mean I don’t come out here, at any point and time on the field to do anything but win. We just had too many people not show up today, ready to get after it.”

Senior Payton Gottshall pitched the first 3.1 innings for the Big Orange, surrendering no runs on five hits and fanning four.

Nicola Simpson made her 10th appearance of the season, replacing Gottshall in the third. Simpson retired five consecutive batters over the next 1.2 innings. Freshman Karlyn Pickens entered the game in the sixth, giving up four runs – one earned – on five hits with three strikeouts. The freshman suffered the loss and is 9-6 on the year.

Weekly added that they can’t afford to not come to games with the right mindset. “You’re getting to that time of year where, hey if you don’t come ready every single pitch, and you’re not trying to beat somebody every single pitch, it’s going to be addressed for you. You’re going to have a sad ending to the season, and that’s going to be my message to them here,” she said.

Now the Lady Vols shift their attention to the conference tournament where they will travel to Bogle Park in Fayetteville, Arkansas, as they begin postseason play with the SEC Tournament, May 9 through 13.

Tennessee will play its first game on May 11, with the first pitch scheduled for 7 p.m. ET and airing on SEC Network.