Lady Vols fall to UNC in the NCAA Softball Regional Final forcing another game

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - The No. 12-seeded Lady Vols lost to North Carolina 1-0 Sunday afternoon Forcing another game that will be played late Sunday afternoon.

The winner of the 2:35 p.m. game will advance to will advance to the Super Regionals.

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No. 12-seeded Lady Vols used hot bats and a strong relief appearance from Caylan Arnold to down Ohio State, 12-4, in Game 3 of the NCAA Knoxville Regional.

With the win, Tennessee (41-14) advanced to the NCAA Regional final game on Sunday at noon ET. The Orange and White will face the winner of Saturday's Game 5 featuring Ohio State and either North Carolina or Longwood.

In what turned into a three-hour contest, UT was led by Aubrey Leach (2-for-4), Haley Bearden (2-for-3) and Cailin Hannon (1-for-2) at the plate. The trio combined to score six runs and record six RBI while six other Lady Vols notched hits.

All three of Tennessee's pitchers saw action in the game with Arnold earning the win. The junior tossed the final 4.2 innings, allowing two runs on four hits while firing five strikeouts. Of her 58 pitches, 43 were strikes.

The Big Orange struck early on Saturday, plating one run in the first inning. Leach led off with a bunt to the pitcher and then stole second base before Bearden hit a single to the left side. With Kaili Phillips at the plate, Leach capitalized on a wild pitch to the backstop to score the first run of the contest.

In the bottom of the frame, Ohio State evened it up and then took a 2-1 lead off the bats of Lilli Piper and Ashley Prange who both hit solo home runs.

Responding in the third, Tennessee jumped back out front on Hannon's fourth longball of the year. Chelsea Seggern first reached on an error and advanced to second on a wild pitch before Phillips worked the count for a walk. Two at-bats later and with two outs, Hannon crushed a three-run bomb to the outfield bleachers, giving UT the advantage, 4-2.

In the fifth inning, the Big Orange extended their lead by two runs. Amanda Ayala roped a triple to right field to start the stanza before Hannon walked and proceeded to steal second. With two outs, Gracie Osbron knocked a two-RBI single to left field, making it a 6-2 game.

The Lady Vols added two more runs in the sixth as Leach led off with a bunt single and moved into scoring position on Seggern's one-bagger to center. In the next at-bat Bearden roped one to left-center field, driving in Leach. OSU's center fielder then misplayed the ball, allowing Seggern to come around to score.

Ohio State got two runs back in the bottom of the frame as Emily Clark led off with a single before Prange hit her second homer of the game, trimming UT's lead to 8-4.

Tennessee went on to add four more insurance runs in the top of the seventh on four hits and an error. Both Leach and Bearden drew bases-loaded walks to bring in two runs before Phillips notched a two-RBI single to make it a 12-4 game.

Arnold and the defense held the Buckeyes scoreless in the bottom of the frame for the 12-4 final.

STRETCH IT OUT: Saturday's three hour and 10 minute game marked the longest seven-inning outing for UT since the first game of the 2018 Athens Super Regional on May 25. That contest lasted just over four hours.

CRUSHED IT: Junior Cailin Hannon hit just the fourth home run of her career in Saturday's game against OSU. Her three RBI in the contest also tied her career high that was last achieved at Mizzou on April 10 of this season.

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