Twirling her bat from side to side as she approached home plate, Rainey Gaffin frantically peered past the nets draped from the Tennessee dugout.
Anxiously jetting her gaze up and down the wooden bench, the Tennessee freshman outfielder was confused.
She was trying to get Karen Weekly’s attention.
With a runner on first and no outs in the bottom of the fourth inning, Gaffin wasn’t sure if she should slap or swing away.
“I must have been talking to someone else and I guess she was a little confused,” the Tennessee co-head coach said. “But I told her, hey, let’s be confused more often if that’s what you do when you’re confused.”
Sure enough, Gaffin slung her baffled bat at the first pitch sent her way.
There was certainly no confusion as to where the ball was headed.
Gaffin’s first career home run walloped well over the right-field wall and ignited a four-run fourth in No. 8 Tennessee’s (24-6) 7-0 drubbing of Murray State (7-13) on Tuesday at Lee Stadium.
But co-head coach Ralph Weekly was far from bewildered by the blast.
During Gaffin’s pre-game batting practice, he placed an arm around her shoulder.
“He came up to me and said ‘you’re going to hit one out,’ ” Gaffin said. “I believed him. I could feel it happening.”
Gaffin also punched an RBI double to the left-center field wall in the second inning.
And her hitting proved to be trendy.
By game’s end, the white lines circling the batter’s box could be faintly seen, if seen at all.
Ten Lady Vols dragged their feet across the chalk to take their turn at the plate in the fourth inning alone.
“It was just contagious tonight,” Gaffin said. “If somebody gets pumped up, (the energy) starts to flow.”
But the energy wasn’t just reserved for the batter’s box.
Freshman pitcher Erin Gabriel tossed a spirited five innings, allowing just two hits.
It was Gabriel’s first start since a rocky outing against Alabama a week ago, where the newcomer surrendered five hits and three runs in a brief two-inning appearance.
“It was great to see Erin have a really nice outing,” Karen Weekly said. “I thought she settled down nicely after the first inning.
“Alabama on day three is a tough match for any of our pitchers, though.”
There was nothing tough about Gabriel’s outing Tuesday.
She sent eight Racer batters back to the dugout after flailing at a biting fastball or gazing at a unremitting off-speed pitch.
“She hit her spots, threw all her pitches well and mixed her speeds,” Karen Weekly said. “She really got better as the game went on.”
Corralling Gabriel’s versatile repertoire of pitches was freshman catcher Lexi Overstreet.
Overstreet threw out a Murray State base runner attempting to steal second base in the first inning and went 1-for-2 at the plate.
“We really like (Overstreet’s) approach,” Karen Weekly said.