TAMPA, Fla. (release) -- Madison Shipman crushed a two run home run and Rainey Gaffin struck out eight over four outstanding relief innings to give No. 1 Tennessee a thrilling 3-2 win over USF on Friday.
Tennessee (7-0) scored on a throwing error to get things going in the first and Madison Shipman added two more runs in the third on a home run to pull UT ahead of USF (3-4) for the win.
Erin Gabriel came into replace starter Cheyanne Tarango in the circle early in the bottom of the second after Tarango allowed two runs on five hits in 1.1 innings. Gabriel pitched 1.2 innings and allowed one hit before Gaffin entered for relief for the second time this season in the bottom of the fourth. Gaffin pitched the remainder of the game and struck out eight batters over four shutout frames.
Shipman led Tennessee offensively, going 2-for-2 at the plate and hitting the big two-run homer over the wall in left field in the third inning. Megan Geer went 2-for-4 and scored the initial run for the Orange and White.
USF's Erica Nunn (1-2) took the loss for the Bulls, allowing three runs on six hits and one home run.
Geer wasted no time putting the Lady Vols on the scoreboard. After leading off the first inning with an infield single, Geer advanced to second on a sac bunt by Madison Shipman. Geer then stole third and scored on a throwing error by the catcher to no one at third base, tacking on the first run of the game giving UT an early 1-0 lead.
USF answered in the bottom of the first on an RBI double by Ta'coia Williams, scoring Juli Weber, to draw even with UT, 1-1.
In the second, USF added another run to take the lead. Megan Santos reached on an infield single. Levine reached on a fielder's choice on the following at-bat and advanced to third on a bunt by Ashli Goff and a throwing error by Keonig. USF's Juli Weber knocked in Goff on an RBI single to make the score 2-1 Bulls. Gabriel replaced Tarango in the circle and got the Lady Vols out of the inning with the bases loaded.
The Lady Vols responded in the third, adding two more runs behind a two-run homer to left field by Madison Shipman with two outs, scoring Geer and giving Tennessee back the lead, 3-2.
Gaffin entered in the fourth and was outstanding in relief, fanning batter after batter and never relenting when USF got runners on base. Gaffin is 2-0 in two career appearances in the circle.
Tennessee faces Illinois at approximately late tonight in their fourth game of the USF Tournament. The game will feature free live audio on UTSports.com and live stats on GoUSFBulls.com. The USF tournament schedule is running late, so expect UT-Illinois to start around 10 p.m. ET.
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