KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Senior pitcher Ashley Rogers opened the 2022 Lady Vol Challenge spinning her first career perfect game, retiring 15 consecutive ECU batters to record the 13th individual and 15th overall perfect game in program history. The right-handed All-American struck out 12 for a new season-high and became the first Lady Vol to record a perfect game since Erin Gabriel in 2016, and Tennessee picked up an 8-0 run-rule win to open its two-day home tournament.
Game two against UNCG produced fireworks of its own in the form of call-and-response homers in the first inning, but then settled into a defensive affair the Lady Vols were happy to play, pulling out the 4-2 win over the Spartans. Graduate lefty Erin Edmoundson starred in the circle, racking up 10 Ks for her third double-digit strikeout performance of the season.
Tennessee added three home runs to its tally off the bats of Ivy Davis, Ashley Morgan and Zaida Puni to bring its season total to 71, the most for UT since hitting 100 in 2015. The 2022 Lady Vols became the third team in program history with more than 70 home runs in a single season.
“I think the highlight of today was the pitchers, for sure,” head coach Karen Weekly said. “Perfect game from Ashley Rogers. I mean, she just pitched a gem. The thing I liked the most was her efficiency. And then Erin (Edmoundson) coming in behind her, pitching against a really good hitting team, second in the nation in home runs. Other than that first inning, she kept them in the ballpark, and we didn’t provide any cushion for her. Obviously, she had to just pitch really tough the whole game and did a great job.”
Game 1 – #14 Tennessee 8, ECU 0
A preseason All-SEC selection, Rogers gave the defense behind her little work to do on Saturday, striking out seven of the first nine Pirates she faced. Including a stretch of six-straight punchouts, Rogers finished the afternoon with 12 strikeouts for a new season-high both individually and for Tennessee (32-13) as a team.
The senior from Athens, Tennessee, struck out the side three times in five opportunities on the way to her dozen Ks. Of the three outs not recorded by Rogers, only one ball managed to leave the infield and harmlessly found the glove of senior outfielder Kiki Milloy.
Reigning co-SEC Player of the Week Ivy Davis continued her blistering stretch of games by blasting her ninth home run of the season, her first since her two-homer performance at Western Carolina last week. The two-run bomb in the second inning moved Davis into third on the team in the category, while the super senior also moved into shared possession of the team lead in multi-RBI games with 11. She finished the game 2-for-2 with three RBIs and a walk.
The Volunteer offense as a team showed great efficiency on the day, scoring their eight runs on eight hits and five walks while not striking out for the second time this season.
The scoring started when Milloy took advantage of an ECU error to score the game’s first run in the top of the first. After leading off with an infield single, the center fielder moved to third on Amanda Ayala’s base hit and was able to come home on an error in right field, scoring her team-leading 45th run of the season.
If Rogers had not completely shut the door on ECU, the third inning would. Up 3-0 after Davis’ two-run shot, sophomore catcher Rylie West tripled to the left-center field gap to score Zaida Puni. Super senior Ashley Morgan immediately brought both West and herself home, parking her eighth homer of the season in the outfield bleachers to make the score 6-0.
Davis notched her second RBI hit of the ballgame with two outs in the bottom of the third, lacing an RBI single that brought home senior right fielder Kaitlin Parsons from second to give the Lady Vols a seven-run edge.
Milloy also produced the game-ending run, bringing home junior DP Madison Webber on a sacrifice-fly in the fifth to cap scoring at 8-0.
Parsons’ three stolen bases on the day were the most in a single game by a Lady Vol this season and the second time she has done so in the Orange and White.
The Lady Vols followed their season template for success, improving to 17-2 when hitting two or more home runs and 24-5 when scoring first. When scoring five-plus runs, Tennessee is now 25-2 on the season and has done so in five of their last eight games.
Game 2 – #14 Tennessee 4, UNC Greensboro 2
A rematch of the season opener, Tennessee had to tweak the script a little but replicated the success found in Florida, dispatching the Spartans 4-2 in the Saturday finale of the Lady Vol Challenge.
Zaida Puni launched her 11th homer of the season off the scoreboard to answer UNCG’s in the top half of the inning and put the Lady Vols out in front 3-2 in the top of the first. Puni’s 42 RBIs ties her with Milloy for the team lead this season.
Much like her counterpart in the first game, senior pitcher Erin Edmoundson had the strikeout pitch on full display, fanning the side in the first and second innings. Both Rogers and Edmoundson were relentless in preventing free bases, surrendering no walks for the sixth and seventh time this season and the first time for UT in back-to-back games since February of 2021.
The graduate transfer shifted her approach over the course of the game, recording nine of her ten strikeouts in the first four innings and letting her defense handle the final three frames.
Edmoundson and Rogers are the first Lady Vols duo to record 10-plus strikeouts on the same day since Ellen Renfroe and Erin Gabriel did it for the Big Orange on Feb. 14, 2014, against Pittsburgh and Binghamton at the USF Tournament.
The Lady Vols were able to get the lead-off hitter aboard in each of the first three innings, punctuated by graduate senior Amanda Ayala. Clinging to a 3-2 lead in the third inning, the Bloomfield, New Jersey native sent a fly ball careening off the wall for a stand-up triple, her third of the season to move into sole possession of the team lead.
In the fourth inning, the Lady Vols manufactured a fourth run using an error, walk, hit and productive out to score junior Shakara Goodloe on an Ivy Davis RBI groundout to move the margin of error from one run to two.
The Spartans threatened to send the game to the bottom half of the seventh before Edmoundson worked herself out of a two-on, one-out jam by forcing a harmless foul out and strikeout to clinch the 4-2 win and two-game season series sweep of UNC Greensboro.
UP NEXT: Tennessee rounds out the 2022 Lady Vol Challenge with a rematch against the ECU Pirates Sunday afternoon, with first pitch scheduled for 1 p.m. at Sherri Parker Lee Stadium. The weekend finale will be streamed online via SEC Network+.