TAMPA, Fla. (release) -- Hannah Akamine had three RBIs, including a two-run home run, as No. 1 Tennessee ripped through Wright State, 10-2, on Sunday in its final game of the USF tournament in Tampa, Fla.
"We planned to use these first nine games to look at our young pitching staff, evaluate our freshman and evaluate all the players in game situations," Tennessee co-head coach Ralph Weekly said.
"I liked the way both Erin Gabriel and Rainey Gaffin pitched - it really gives us depth there. It was equally nice that we only had to pitch Ellen Renfroe in four games and Cheyanne Tarango, who is our full-time first baseman, once. Karen and I were also pleased with the way all of our freshmen performed in various game situations. They logged a lot of innings and we played as many as five at a time. Most importantly, these nine games told us where we are as a softball team before we start the second part of our non-conference season. We were especially happy with the effort, attitude and chemistry. We have lot of work to do and are anxious to get home, look at film and begin the process of improving."
Tennessee (9-0) scored three in the first, one in the second and two in the third before finishing the game with a four-run fifth inning to ice the game. The win makes the Lady Vols 6-0 all-time against the Raiders (0-5) and continues their perfect start to the season.
The victory also marks only the fifth time Tennessee has started 9-0. UT's best starts to the season include opening 12-0 in 2013, 8-0 in 2008, 23-0 in 2007, 24-0 in 2006 and 16-0 in 2005.
Akamine went 2-for-3 at the plate in her first career start at third base. Annie Aldrete also had an impressive game, finishing 3-for-3 with two doubles and two RBIs. Melissa Davin had two hits and a solo shot to lead off the fifth inning.
Erin Gabriel (2-0) struck out two over 3.2 innings, giving up only two runs. Rainey Gaffin gave the Lady Vols 1.1 scoreless innings of relief. Wright State's Montana Wear pitched 4.1 innings and gave up 10 runs on 11 Lady Vols hits.
Tennessee wasted no time getting on the board in the first inning. Megan Geer reached base on a single and reached third. Davin had an RBI single to plate the Lady Vols' first run. Two batters later, Aldrete smashed a two-RBI double to the fence giving Tennessee a 3-0 lead.
The Lady Vols added a fourth run in the second when Madison Shipman's RBI single scored Gaffin.
Tennessee's bats stayed hot in the third. Aldrete singled with one out before Akamine ripped a two-run home run over the left field fence giving UT a 6-0 lead.
Wright State tried to make a run at Tennessee in the top of the fourth inning when Becka Peterson lifted one of Gabriel's pitches over the fence for a two-run shot.
The Lady Vols saved the best for their last inning though to end the game early. Davin led off the inning with a solo home run to extend their lead to five. Hits by Lexi Overstreet and Aldrete put runners on first and second for Akamine who proceeded to double to left field, scoring one. Taylor Koenig added an RBI single up the middle scoring another and Haley Tobler had a sacrifice fly out to allow pinch runner, Jennifer Burroughs to race home for a 10-2 win.
Tennessee finished the USF tournament undefeated. UT hit .380 for the weekend and the Big Orange pitchers combined for a 0.90 ERA. Aldrete hit .615 (8-for-13) with four doubles, one homer and a team-high eight RBIs. Davin hit three homers, including an inside-the-park round-tripper. Ellen Renfroe tossed two shutouts, fanning 24 batters over 14 scoreless frames to keep her season ERA at a sparkling 0.00.
The Lady Vols will next head to Cathedral City, Calif. for the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic next weekend. Their first game will be Saturday, Feb. 22, against Nebraska.