There's no such thing as a moral victory for Tennessee co-head softball coach Ralph Weekly.
For the second-consecutive game, the No. 12-ranked Lady Vols flirted with an upset against No. 2 Florida, this time losing 5-3 Sunday afternoon at Lee Softball Stadium.
The Gators (59-2, 27-1 SEC) clinched the SEC regular-season title by completing the three-game sweep against UT (46-13, 14-12).
Florida, which has a 32-game winning streak, won Saturday's doubleheader, 4-2 and the 6-5 in 11 innings.
Weekly said getting close won't cut it.
"That's not what we're here for," Weekly said. "We put on the Orange to win. I mean, that's all there is to it. Florida is a big rival of Tennessee and we should have won the games.
"I'm not concerned about being close. The problem is in the (pitcher's) circle. They call this game fast-pitch and you need to get it out of your pitchers and we didn't."
UT is the No. 4 seed in the SEC tournament and plays No. 5 seed Georgia on Thursday at noon in Baton Rouge, La. The Lady Vols swept a three-game series against Georgia on April 5-6.
After Sunday's game, UT's coaches met with the team for more than 30 minutes.
"We just had a long meeting and rededicated ourselves and the kids feel like they're going to be competitive," Weekly said. "LSU went in as the 4 seed last year and won it, so there's always an opportunity to win it."
The Lady Vols saw a couple of those vanish against Florida.
UT out-hit the Gators 25-24 in the series, but the Lady Vols' pitchers issued 16 walks and threw eight wild pitches.
It seemed like a lot more for Weekly.
"The biggest problem we had is we couldn't throw strikes," he said. "Our pitchers walked at least 20 batters, a lot of them lead-off walks that eventually scored, and we threw a lot of wild pitches, and you don't win games against high-level teams with that going on."
In the first inning, the Lady Vols' Shannon Doepking homered for a 2-0 lead off Florida All-American pitcher Stacey Nelson.
It was the only homer given up this season in 261 innings by Nelson (38-2), who entered Sunday's game with a 0.75 ERA.
"She flattened out pretty good on that pitch," Florida coach Tim Walton said. "Give (UT) credit. We've played Alabama, we've played Stanford. This Tennessee ball club is as good a hitting team as we've seen all year."
UT freshman starter Ashton Ward pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the second but couldn't escape the third. She gave up a lead-off walk to Kim Waleszonia and an RBI double to Aja Paculba before being relieved by Megan Rhodes.
Rhodes gave up two RBI doubles as the Gators took a 3-2 lead.
UT tied it in the fourth on Erinn Webb's double and Nicole Kajitani's RBI squeeze bunt.
Florida regained the lead when Rhodes walked Paculba starting the fifth, and Ali Gardiner greeted the third Lady Vols' pitcher, Danielle Pieroni, with an RBI double.
"Our pitchers had spurts of good innings, but there weren't enough of them," Weekly said, "and it seems like every time we got a lead we gave up a lead-off walk, threw a wild pitch and got ourselves in trouble."