KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (UT Release) - No. 4 Tennessee held a 5-4 lead after five frames but Mississippi State exploded with seven runs in the sixth to hand the Lady Vols an 11-7 loss on Easter Sunday at Sherri Parker Lee Stadium.
Tennessee (36-8, 12-6 SEC) scored one run in the third inning, four in the fifth and two in the sixth. Mississippi State (35-15, 7-11 SEC) scored two runs in the third inning, two runs in the fifth and seven in the sixth.
Mississippi State won the season series, 2-1. MSU won on Friday, 2-0. Tennessee evened the series at 1-1 with a 11-5 win on Saturday. UT leads the all-time series, 31-17.
Madison Shipman crushed a pair of home runs in the loss, going 2-for-2 with three RBIs, two walks and three runs scored. Hannah Akamine had a pinch-hit, two-run single in the fifth inning that tied the game at 4-4.
Ellen Renfroe (23-5) took the loss after striking out four and giving up seven earned runs over 4.1 innings. Rainey Gaffin threw two-thirds of an inning and finished with a strikeout and one run allowed. Erin Gabriel struck out two and allowed one earned run in the final two frames.
Alexis Silkwood (17-9) earned the win for MSU after tossing 4.1 frames with three earned runs allowed. Alison Owen gave up three earned runs over 2.2 relief frames.
Mississippi State jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the third inning. With two outs, Caroline Seitz hit an RBI single to left field, plating Katie Anne Bailey from second base. Seitz later scored when Logan Foulks reached on a throwing error on a grounder to third base.
UT got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the third. With two outs, and runners on first and second, Haley Tobler hit a single to short and Shipman scored from second base after an error by the first baseman, who bobbled and dropped the throw from short, which was not in time.
The Bulldogs' lead grew to 4-1 in the top of the fifth. With one out and one on, Foulks hit a two-run homer to left. Gaffin relieved Renfroe in the circle and induced a groundout to third and struck out Ashley Phillips to end the inning.
Tennessee rallied with four runs in the bottom of the fifth to take a 5-4 lead. With one out, Shipman crushed a 1-1 pitch from Silkwood over the wall in left for her 16th homer of the season, pulling UT to within 4-2. Annie Aldrete followed with a double to left center and Melissa Davin drew a walk on a full count. Two batters later, Cheyanne Tarango walked to load the bases with two outs. Akamine knocked a two-RBI single to right center to score Aldrete and Davin and knot the game at 4-4. Alley Perkins followed with an RBI single right in front of the plate on a high chopper, scoring Tarango and giving Tennessee the lead.
Mississippi State came roaring back with a seven-run sixth inning to reclaim the lead and control of the game. After Gaffin walked Kayla Winkfield to open the inning, Renfroe re-entered the circle. With the bases loaded three batters later, Heidi Shape knocked an RBI single through the left side to tie the game at 5-5. Seitz followed with an RBI single through the left side to put MSU back in front, 6-5. Gabriel relieved Renfroe in the circle and inheriting a bases-loaded situation with no outs. Foulks laid down an RBI bunt single to plate Jessica Offutt. Gabriel struck out Sam Lenahan for the first out of the inning, but Julia Echols followed with a another bunt single, which scored two runs after a throwing error at third base. With the bases loaded and one out, Winkfield hit an RBI single to left, plating two more runs after a fielding error in left field. The inning finally ended when Gabriel induced a pop up to third and struck out Offutt.
The Lady Vols refused to quit. In the sixth inning, Megan Geer drew a leadoff walk and Shipman drove her in with a two-run home run over the scoreboard in left field. The shot was Shipman's 17th on the season and the 43 of her career. Shipman stands third in career home runs in Tennessee history, trailing only Tonya Callahan (51 from 2005-08) and Lauren Gibson (46 from 2010-13).
Tennessee will next host Furman on April 22 at 6 p.m. ET. Tuesday night will be Dads & Daughters Night with a special two-ticket package for fathers and daughters for $15 that includes t-shirts and the opportunity to play catch in the outfield after the game. For more info and to order the Dads & Daughters package, please call 865-974-1734.
UT will resume SEC play at the end of the week with three games against No. 8 Kentucky, from April 25-27, in Lexington, Ky.