OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Rylie West hit a three-run homer and No. 4 seed Tennessee defeated No. 5 seed Alabama 10-5 on Thursday in the opening game of the Women’s College World Series.
Jamison Brockenbrough and Katie Taylor had two hits and Kiki Milloy scored twice for the Lady Vols (50-8).
Tennessee’s Ashley Rogers, a first-team National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-American, gave up two runs in four innings to improve to 19-1 this season.
Jenna Johnson and Kenleigh Cahalan each had two hits and Marlie Giles hit a solo homer for Alabama (45-21). Jaala Torrence gave up six runs, but just two earned, in 2 1/3 innings for the Crimson Tide. Alabama’s Ashley Prange committed three errors that led to four unearned runs. She had six errors all season before Thursday.
Tennessee opened the scoring in the second when Taylor doubled to knock in two. Milloy, the nation’s home run leader, was intentionally walked, then Zaida Puni doubled to score Taylor and Milloy and push the Lady Vols’ lead to 4-0.
“Whenever they intentionally walk me, I’m like, ‘I don’t know if that’s the best move because Zaida is going to come up,’” Milloy said. “Every time they walk me, I feel like she’s done something to manufacture a run.”
In the third, Alabama’s Cahalan hit the ball off first base and it bounced high in the air, allowing two runs to score for the Crimson Tide.
Tennessee answered in the third when Brockenbrough, a freshman, hit her second homer of the season. The two-run blast to center gave the Lady Vols a 6-2 lead and chased Torrence. West’s homer in the fourth increased Tennessee’s lead to 10-2.
Alabama scored two runs in the fifth and one in the sixth.
“When we got to 10, you just kind of felt like, ‘They’re not going to go away,’ and they didn’t,” Tennessee coach Karen Weekly said. “But I’m really proud of our team, of just how we were tough the whole game and just kept our foot on the pedal and built up a big enough lead that we could come away with the win.”
Alabama will play in an elimination game on Friday against Stanford or Oklahoma. Alabama coach Patrick Murphy said Montana Fouts, the World Series veteran who got both wins in super regionals against Northwestern while nursing a hyperextended left knee, will be ready.
“This probably is the way it’s been written for this team, to make it the hard way,” Murphy said. “We have to play better defense. We have to get a good start from the starter. Then obviously the third thing is to key hit, and we need to do that early.”
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