KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The fourth-ranked Lady Vols rallied late against No. 21 Baylor Friday afternoon at Sherri Parker Lee Stadium but fell short, 8-5, to close out the Tennessee Invitational.
Tennessee (30-5) has now dropped back-to-back games for the first time this season and is 9-4 against ranked opponents in 2023.
Baylor (30-9) started RyLee Candall in the circle before bringing in Dariana Orme to lock down the win. Candall went five innings and allowed four runs on five hits with three walks and two strikeouts. She picked up the win and is now 11-4 on the year.
Orme pitched the game’s final two innings, surrendering one run on three hits, walking two and striking out two.
Karlyn Pickens started for UT, allowing eight runs – seven earned – in one inning of work. Freshman Charli Orsini threw 2.2 shutout innings in relief before giving way to senior Payton Gottshall who tossed 3.1 innings of shutout ball to close out the game.
Senior Kiki Milloy led off the home half of the first with a first-pitch home run to center field – her 15th of the season – the open the scoring.
The Bears responded immediately in the second inning, scoring eight runs on three hits and an error. BU strung together three singles and a fielder’s choice to plate its first four runs in the frame before a bases-loaded walk, a wild pitch followed by a groundout and a sacrifice fly pushed four more runs across.
With the bases loaded in the third, McKenna Gibson drove home Mackenzie Donihoo for the Lady Vols’ second run of the game but hit into a double play, stifling a potential rally.
Tennessee pushed late in the sixth with three runs scored, beginning with a solo home run off Gibson’s bat. Sophomore Katie Taylor then drove home Brylee Mesusan on a double to center, which was followed up by a Donihoo single to plate Taylor – cutting Baylor’s lead to 8-5.
Orme then returned to the circle in the seventh and held the Lady Vols off the board to secure the win.
Tennessee heads out on a four-game road swing next week as it visits Virginia Tech for a midweek showdown on Tuesday before heading to Lexington, Kentucky, for a three-game set against the Wildcats.