Vols Punch Ticket to Supers with Shutout Over Longwood

UT P Matty Moss / Credit: UT Athletics

Vols Punch Ticket to Supers with Shutout Over Longwood

UT P Matty Moss / Credit: UT Athletics

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — No. 8 Tennessee punched its ticket to the NCAA Super Regionals for the fifth time in the past six seasons with a 3-0 victory over Longwood in Sunday’s regional final at Sherri Parker Lee Stadium.

Meghan Gregg tied UT’s single-season RBI record by driving in two runs and starting pitcher Matty Moss was dominate once again in the circle, improving her record to 25-2 this year.

The Volunteers (47-10) went undefeated in an NCAA Regional for the eighth time in program history with today’s win over the Lancers. In six of the seven previous occasions, UT went on to advance to the Women’s College World Series.

Gregg got UT off to a great start with an RBI single to drive in Aubrey Leach and put the Vols up 1-0 in the first inning. Leach led off the inning with an infield single and stole second base to move into scoring position before scoring her team-leading 59th run of the season.

It was Gregg who came through again in the top of the fifth with a solo blast into the outfield bleachers, her third home run of the tournament and 14th of the season, setting a new single-season career high. The homer as moved the Georgia native into a tie for first on Tennessee’s single-season RBI list with 77.

Brooke Vines brought home Jenna Holcomb with an RBI single in the top of the seventh to extend the Vols’ lead to three. Holcomb reached base with a single through the right side and was moved into scoring positon by Gregg in the next at-bat.

Moss was brilliant in circle, tossing a complete-game, four-hit shutout while recording nine strikeouts. It is the 13th complete game for Moss this season and her seventh shutout on the year. The nine strikeouts for the South Carolina native was one off a career high.

Krista Kelly led Longwood (30-29) with two hits while Sydney Gay did the majority of the work in the circle, throwing six innings while giving up 10 hits and two runs in a losing effort.

UP NEXT: With the win, Tennessee advances to the NCAA Super Regionals next week to take on No. 9 seed Texas A&M. The Vols will host the Aggies at Sherri Parker Lee Stadium. Dates and times for that series will be announced after all NCAA Regional games have concluded. Get your tickets for next week’s Super Regionals at AllVols.com.

RBI QUEEN: Junior shortstop Meghan Gregg tied the UT single-season RBI record with two in the Vols’ win on Sunday afternoon. She is tied with Kristi Durant (2005) and Bridget Jackson (1996) for the program record of 77. Her solo homer in the fifth inning also moved her into a tie for fourth on Tennessee’s career home runs list with 38, putting her just 13 shy of Tonya Callahan’s program record of 51 with an entire season still to play.

MOSS DOMINATE ONCE AGAIN: Sophomore right hander Matty Moss was dominant once again in the circle, tossing her second complete-game shutout of the weekend against the Lancers. Moss finished the NCAA Regional tournament with two complete-game shutouts, both against Longwood, 15 innings pitched and 20 strikeouts. Moss only allowed five hits and two walks during the tournament.

SUPER FEELING IN KNOXVILLE: The Big Orange are headed back to the NCAA Super Regionals for the fifth time in the past six years and will host No. 9 Texas A&M next week. The Vols and Aggies will begin their best-of-three series on either Thursday or Friday with every game set to be televised on the ESPN family of networks. Stay locked to UTSports.com and the Tennessee Softball Twitter account (@Vol_Softball) for that information.

Tennessee vs. Longwood
SCORE: Tennessee 3, Longwood 0

Tennessee Co-Head Coach Ralph Weekly
(Opening Statement)
“Well it never gets old, you know, it never gets old. I was really proud of our team and proud that they came out and played a different type of game today; it was more pitching and defense. We had a lot of hits, but we couldn’t string them together and make much out of them. But the pitching was awesome, and it’s what we’ve been working at for a long time. And the defense was very strong, and the kids were just not to be denied.”

(On the bottom of the lineup not being as strong as in previous years and the importance of getting them involved in the offense going forward)
“I think it’s really critical. It’s the one point I brought up in the team meeting that starting tonight we’re going to sit down with the coaching staff and look at some players on the team that we need more out of offensively and come up with a plan. And we’re going to work on that plan every day. She (Longwood Coach Kathy Riley) is right, you know, and you’re not going to fool A&M. They have a great coaching staff, they’ve already figure out – first off, they’ve played us three times. They have some weaknesses, we have some weaknesses; they know our weaknesses, and hopefully we know theirs. But you know, they’re a tremendous opponent. They really are. It’s just going to be a heck of a Super Regional, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. We’ve got to get more offense in the bottom of our order.”

(On concern about coming off an emotional victory the day before)
“Well I thought we were really high after the game too. We wanted to watch those plays over and over and over. So I thought they were pretty fired up today. What kind of happened today was a good example of, you know, we had a good chance to send Jenna (Holcomb), and she tripped coming around third and actually spiked herself. And you know, I’ll do that any time, because we have to do one thing: run. And they have to do four things: catch it, throw it, catch it, tag. So, that play kind of slowed us down some, and there were a couple other situations where we could have scored more runs, and we just didn’t get it done. But no offense can get it done every day in baseball or softball, it just doesn’t happen. And I was proud, again, of the way they came out and put 12 hits on the board, because I know everyone was going to say ‘Longwood, we don’t know much about them.’ But with five conference championships in the Big South, they know how to play ball.”

(On if he wishes he didn’t have to face SEC teams in the Super Regionals)
“Yeah, I do. And we all do, but if 13 teams are going to make the field, you’re going to catch them sooner or later. But there are no guarantees at this level. Just because, to go back to the question, just because we’ve gone every time before doesn’t mean we’re going to go this time. And I told them this today, you just have to go out and leave it all on the field. If you come off successful, it’s fine, but if you begin to think you have to win, then you’re not going to. When I called timeout to talk to Haley Bearden in that last inning, I went out to talk to her because I’d just yelled out, ‘Come on Haley, we need that hit!’ And I thought, ‘You know, she’s new to the lineup and everything,’ so I called time and went down and said, ‘Hey, we’d like to have the hit, but we really don’t need it. Just relax and do your best.’ And she hit a high chopper, and that first baseman made a heck of a play, but in any sport, I think if you put too much pressure on your athletes they’re not going to succeed.”

(On if he’s happier with his pitching staff after this weekend than after the SEC Tournament)
“Very much so. I think I’ve already said and gone on the record to say that I had them watch the Ole Miss pitcher and how accomplished she is and is still accomplishing right now. Because she doesn’t throw really hard, she’s not big, but she threw 22 of 25 first-pitch strikes. And she also threw 427 pitches in that tournament and walked one batter. And that’s what I want out of my pitchers; I want my pitchers to pitch to contact. Monica Abbott is gone, ok? Monica Abbot is gone, and there’s no one who’s going to be up there and strikeout 18 batters a game. And sometimes when they’re growing up, they’re told, ‘Got to have strikeouts. Got to have strikeouts. Got to have strikeouts.’ So that’s kind of where we turned our attention, and I’m sure that A&M is doing some things like that too because our pitchers are a lot alike. Our pitchers and their pitchers – you’re going to see. That’s why I say it’s going to be a dogfight.”

Matty Moss #1
(On making adjustments against Longwood)
“We had sat down, me and Caylan (Arnold) with Karen (Weekly) before the game and watched our film over again and made little adjustments here and there because it is always tough coming back and playing a team a second time because they’ve seen you for seven innings, so it was about making adjustments here and there.”

(On importance of Texas A&M series in regular season)
“That was a huge series for us. It was most certainly a grind and it was most certainly an offensive weekend. Our offense just pushed through and helped out the pitching staff so well. I feel like the pitching staff is on a whole new level from three weeks ago. We’re always growing and trying to improve. I’m excited to see what this super regional turns out to be.”

(On first-pitch strikes)
“It’s huge. Ralph always harps on it a good bit. He’s right for it. It makes a big difference, making the batters off balance and always on their toes. Making the defense confident behind us is really important. First-pitch strikes are good.”

(On growth of pitching staff)
“After that Texas A&M series and the SEC Tournament, we really had to look at ourselves in the mirror and really figure out what it was we needed to work on. In the past week, we have put in so much work. We have really held ourselves accountable to hitting our spots. Close to perfection we have been expecting for ourselves. It showed this weekend. Caylan did awesome yesterday, and I felt like I was hitting my spots pretty well.”

Meghan Gregg #55
(On hitting during the regional)
“I felt really good at the plate this weekend. I think having teammates getting hits gives me more confidence. We had 12 hits today. That’s a lot. It didn’t really show on the scoreboard, but that really adds to it. I felt good at the plate.”

(On what they learned about themselves during weekend)
“Especially yesterday you could see it — as did everyone else — we never give up. I don’t think we ever thought we were going to lose. We stayed calm and just kept pushing and we got what we wanted.”

(On preparing for Texas A&M)
“We’re going to start getting to work starting now. We’re done celebrating. We have lots of film on them. We’ve obviously played them three times about three weeks ago. We’re going to start preparing right now to get focused and get our heads right.”

Longwood Head Coach Kathy Riley
(Opening Statement)
“Tennessee earned the game today.They played well, Matty Moss pitched very well, and the hitters put together enough pressure on us and scored three runs, so they deserved to win. But I thought it was a good, hard fought battle. It would’ve been nice if we would’ve put together a few more hits so that we could’ve made the game a little closer.”

(On UT pitcher Matty Moss)
“Matty threw 19 out of 25 first-pitch strikes in the game that we lost, the first game of the tournament, and so today what we really wanted to do was go in and be more aggressive early in the count. And probably if you said what was one failing that we really had today, I think that was it. We didn’t want her to dictate the whole at-bat and really the rhythm of every at-bat. And then when you let a pitcher go in there and get a first-pitch strike all the time, they get a lot of confidence and she gets to really work within her own framework all the time and so I would have liked to be more aggressive early in the count.”

Sydney Gay #4
(On the overall atmosphere of the weekend playing at Tennessee)
“It’s different for me because I’ve obviously never been to Tennessee before. I just came in excited, and I knew that we had to play hard teams so we had to just keep the competition up. After losing one game at first, being in the losers’ bracket, I think we came out even stronger, I think that honestly might have helped us even. We just had fun out there.”

(On pitching to Tennessee’s Meghan Gregg)
“I think it’s just coming in and really trusting (Kaylynn Batten) with making the decisions and knowing each batter. With her, I’d say just keep it off the plate, because she is a good hitter and she can really get around those balls. But just mix it up and keep her off balance the whole time, throw a curve out way off the plate, usually they don’t know its a strike so they’ll just wait on it. So just keep her off balanced.”

Justina Augustine #55
(On facing Matty Moss as an opposing hitter)
“Matty Moss came out and threw hard, and was really hitting her corners well, and so we came in today knowing that. She’s a really good pitcher who can hit her spots.”

(On the overall atmosphere of the weekend playing at Tennessee)
“We came into this tournament with a goal that we were going to make it to the regional championship, and we achieved that goal. I’ve been here before, so I was kind of used to the atmosphere, but it was nice obtaining our goal and although we wish we could have won, it was nice to have that goal achieved.”

-UT Athletics


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