The last time Tennessee earned back-to-back Women’s College World Series berths, the Lady Vols had to eliminate Alabama in 2013. Now, they are one win away from taking out its SEC foe to advance once again after a 3-2 victory in the series opener of the Super Regional. 

Tennessee gave up its first run of the NCAA tournament within minutes of the matchup beginning. A single down the line from Kristen White got her to third base after an error in left field by Rylie West. Then a wild pitch from Karlyn Pickens thrown behind home plate moved White in to score and Alabama seemed to have full control over this game. 

After Marlie Giles was hit by a pitch in the second inning and advanced to third via a pair of wild pitches, Riley Valentine beat out a two-out infield single to score Giles and extend the lead to two. 

Through four innings, Tennessee looked rough. Uncharacteristic defensive mistakes and miscommunication were unusual for the top-ranked team. But after reaching base for the first time during the fifth inning after Kayla Beaver walked West, the Vols tacked on their first run of the game. Gabby Leach singled to second and Kali Heivillin bobbled the ball for an error, putting momentum through the dugout. 

Beaver had been phenomenal in the circle for the Crimson Tide up until this point, retiring 10 in a row. The Vols found their way through Beaver though when Laura Mealer’s two-run home run to center field took the lead.

B5: A TWO-RUN BLAST +2

Laura Mealer with a two-run bomb to give the Lady Vols the lead in the bottom of the fifth!

Lady Vols 3-2 Crimson Tide

📲 (ESPN2) pic.twitter.com/J9Ui2jNQct

— Tennessee Softball (@Vol_Softball) May 24, 2024

Pickens left the mound in the sixth inning after collecting seven strikeouts. Payton Gottshall came in for relief, and with Alabama threatening with runners in scoring position, she shut them right down. 

Alabama will try to push the series to a third game on Saturday at 3 p.m. ET.