KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Zaida Puni went 2 for 3 with a three-run homer and No. 4 seed Tennessee beat Texas 5-2 on Friday in Game 1 of the best-of-three Knoxville Super Regional.
Tennessee (48-8), which is in the super regionals for the first time since 2019, can clinch a berth in the Women’s College World Series with a win Saturday in Game 2 against No. 13 seed Texas (45-14-1). The Vols have won seven straight games.
Puni, who had four home runs in the regionals last week, smashed a three-run homer off the scoreboard in the second inning for a 4-0 lead. Puni also led off the fifth with a double to force a pitching change and Rylie West followed with an RBI single off the base of the wall to make it 5-1.
Tennessee had the bases loaded with one out in the fifth, but Alyssa Popelka caught a fly ball in shallow left field and threw out a runner at home for an inning-ending double play.
Tennessee starter Ashley Rogers allowed eight hits while striking out eight in a complete game.
Freshman Viviana Martinez, whose 52 RBIs this season are the most by any first-year player in program history, went 2 for 3 for Texas.