Meghan Gregg’s two-run single off the left-field wall in the bottom of the seventh inning gave fifth-seeded Tennessee a 5-4 victory over No. 12 seed Kentucky in the opening round of the Southeastern Conference softball tournament Wednesday night at Tiger Park.
Gregg’s hit sent Tennessee (40-13) to a 5:30 p.m. Thursday matchup with fourth-seeded LSU in the quarterfinals of the single-elimination tournament.
LSU had a bye in the first round after securing the fourth seed on the final day of the regular season Sunday.
“They’re an awesome team,” Gregg said of facing LSU. “They’re relentless and they hit the ball really well.
“We’re going to have to bring our ‘A’ game. It’s going to be two really good teams going against each other, so it should be a really good game.”
Tennessee started the seventh with a walk by Annie Aldrete and Megan Geer hit a one-hopper to Kentucky shortstop Christian Stokes. But second baseman Ansley Smith couldn’t hold on to the throw and the Vols loaded the bases when Gretchen Aucoin drew a walk off Erin Rethlake.
Pitcher Kelsey Nunley, who started the game, came back in for Rethlake and had a 2-2 count on Gregg when she lifted a long flay ball to left.
Left fielder Sylver Samuel couldn’t make the catch and the ball caromed off the wall, allowing Aldrete and Geer to trot home.
Kentucky (29-24) led 2-0 after three innings before Tennessee scored in the bottom of the fourth, then added two runs in the fifth after Kentucky increased the lead to 3-1 with a run in the fifth.
After the Vols tied it in the fifth, the Wildcats scored again in the sixth to carry the 4-3 lead to the seventh.
SOUTH CAROLINA 6, TEXAS A&M 3: No. 9-seeded South Carolina rallied from a 3-2 deficit with a four-run sixth inning as the Gamecocks eliminated the eight-seeded Aggies.
Catcher Olivia Lawrence lined a two-out solo homer to right-center field to tie the game, and three batters later, right fielder Victoria Williams drilled a three-run double to the base of the wall in left-center to send Texas A&M (38-18) home.
South Carolina (37-19) will meet top-seeded Florida in Thursday’s quarterfinals.
MISSOURI 9, MISSISSIPPI STATE 0: In the tournament opener, No. 7 seeded Missouri run-ruled 10th-seeded Mississippi State when catcher Kirsten Mack delivered a three-run home run in the sixth inning.
Seventh-seeded Missouri (39-13) added to a 2-0 lead with a four-run fourth inning before Mack finished off State (35-19).
With the win, Missouri earned a spot in the quarterfinals against Auburn.
GEORGIA 11, OLE MISS 0: Katie Browne, the niece of LSU football coach Les Miles, pounded a two-run home run to cap a three-run second inning and Georgia went on to run-rule Ole Miss. It was Browne’s first homer of the season.
Anna Swafford belted a three-run homer to highlight a five-run fifth as the sixth-seeded Bulldogs (40-13) finished off the 11th-seeded Rebels (30-25) to advance to a quarterfinal matchup with Alabama.
Follow Sheldon Mickles on Twitter: @MicklesAdvocate.