Zaida Puni lifts No. 4 Lady Vols past No. 13 Texas in game one

Tennessee hosts Texas in the Super Regionals.
Tennessee hosts Texas in the Super Regionals.
Published: May. 26, 2023 at 6:37 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - For the first time since 2017, the No. 4 Lady Vols are hosting the Super Regionals. Friday, they welcomed in No. 13 Texas for game one.

Ashley Rogers took the circle for the start and set the tone early with a pair of strikeouts in the first and second innings.

Then came the bottom of the second inning where the one-two spots in the batting lineup got hot.

Kiki Milloy lined the pitch up center field with two on for an RBI double and got Tennessee on the board.

Next up, Zaida Puni has been red hot this season. The junior’s home run streak continued here with two on, Puni blasted the pitch deep to left field off the scoreboard for a three-run home run to push the Lady Vols in front 4-0.

That homer was her fifth over the last four games, five of her last six hits have been home runs.

In the top of the third, Texas plated one run off an RBI single with two outs. A Tennessee mound meeting followed, and Ashley Rogers responded by striking out the next batter to close the frame.

After a hitless third inning, in the next frame, the Lady Vols got on base with a single by Katie Taylor but was left stranded.

Texas threatened again in the top of the fifth inning, with two on and two outs, and Rogers once again answered the bell by striking out the last batter and the ace pitcher was amped up heading back into the dugout, 4-1 Tennessee.

Puni took the plate first for the Lady Vols in the bottom of the fifth and she’d cash in another hit, this time roped to the warning track in right field. Following her double, Texas made a pitching change.

Same inning, Rylie West at that plate with two on and no outs, lines one deep to center field all the way to the wall, Brylee Mesusan pinch-running for Puni, races from second and beats the throw to home to get the Lady Vols on the board after two scoreless innings, 5-1 Lady Vols.

Keep in the bottom of the fifth, two on with one out for Giulia Koutsoyanopulos as the catcher lines one to third bases, the ball is muffed and Koutsoyanopulos beats the throw at first to load the bases.

Rogers tossed a complete game pitching eight strikeouts and gave up eight hits and two runs.

Lady Vols took the first win, 5-2.

Game two is set for Saturday at 3:00 p.m.. the game is sold out but Regal Soccer Stadium across the street is hosting a Watch Party for fans.