Tennessee’s softball team wanted to use its time in early-season tournaments to assess what kind of team it had and to get the younger players experience.
The assessment appears to be a good one and the young players have played an important role in that.
The Lady Vols defeated Wright State (0-5) 10-2 in five innings Sunday to close out the USF tournament in Tampa, Fla., undefeated.
The top-ranked Lady Vols improved to 9-0 on the season — only the fifth time in school history the team has started 9-0 or better.
Playing at third base for the first time in her career, Hannah Akamine went 2-for-3 with 3 RBIs. Usually UT’s starting catcher, Akamine hit a two-run home run in the third inning to give the Lady Vols a 6-0 lead.
Freshman Annie Aldrete played catcher Sunday and went 3-for-3 at the plate for the second game in a row. She had a two-run double that put UT up 3-0 in the first inning.
“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 in a school release.
“... 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.”
Late Saturday night, the Lady Vols turned a tight contest with Illinois (8-1) into a 10-0 blowout with a eight-run seventh inning.
Aldrete hit a two-run home run, her first of the season, early in the explosive seventh. The Lady Vols battered around and Aldrete added two more RBIs on her second at-bat of the frame to give UT a 10-0 lead.
Ellen Renfroe (4-0) struck out 12 over seven scoreless innings. She has not allowed a run this season in 26 innings.
Lexi Overstreet also continued her strong play. Her solo home run in the sixth inning was her third of the season.
Women’s golf: Tennessee is 8th after the first round of the Lady Puerto Rico Classic, but it was a player that didn’t even contribute to the team score that stood out.
Daeun Song, a junior from Korea, shot a 2-over 74 and is tied for 18th. Song is competing as an individual for UT, but her score either tied or bested every Lady Vol except for Chessey Thomas (73).
Lucia Polo also shot a 74, while Mason Chen fired a 75 and Hannah and Emmie Pietila finished with scores of 78 and 84, respectively.
At 12-over 300, the Lady Vols are 12 shots back of Arkansas in a field that features six of the country’s top 25 teams.
Men’s tennis: After losing its first two matches of the weekend in the ITA National Team Indoor Championship in Houston to USC and Texas A&M, the Vols (10-3) found some consolation by beating No. 16 Pepperdine in a consolation match, 4-1.
Not only did UT bounce back from the defeats, the Vols had to bounce back against Pepperdine after losing the doubles point, including a loss by Mikelis Libietis and Hunter Reese, the top-ranked team in the country. The duo was 0-for-6 on break point chances.
But the Vols were able to bounce back in singles, with four consecutive victories from Markus Kerner, Andrew Dromsky, Libietis and the clincher from Jarryd Chaplin.