(Team release) COLUMBIA, S.C. -- No. 7 Tennessee loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh, but the Lady Vols' late rally fell short in a 2-0 loss to No. 16 Kentucky in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals on Thursday at Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckham Field.
Tennessee (42-10) had a chance for an incredible comeback late in the seventh when Lexi Overstreet singled to center field with two outs. Cheyanne Tarango followed with a single to left and Rainey Gaffin reached on a fielding error at shortstop to load the bases. Haley Tobler battled with a nine-pitch at-bat, fouling a ball deep down the left field line that curved to left of the foul pole before striking out on called strike.
Kentucky (43-14) scored one run in the fourth and one run in the fifth and used a stellar pitching performance by Kelsey Nunley (23-7) to shut down the UT offense.
Overstreet had two hits in the game, marking her seventh multi-hit game of the season.
Ellen Renfroe (26-6) threw seven strong innings with seven strikeouts and just one earned run allowed.
The game started fast and furious as Christian Stokes opened with a leadoff double off the wall in left and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Renfroe then struck out Sylver Samuel and got a 2-3-2 double play as Tarango caught Stokes trying to steal home.
Tennessee put two runners on base in the bottom of the second when Taylor Koenig and Overstreet hit back-to-back singles. With two outs, Koenig placed a bloop single to left and Overstreet followed with a single ripped up the middle. Nunley escaped the inning with a groundout to third.
Kentucky took a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth. Emily Gaines hit a leadoff single, advanced to second on a passed ball and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt. With one out, Emily Jolly grounded out to short and Gaines scored from third on the play.
Annie Aldrete hit a leadoff double to the center field warning track to open the bottom of the fourth. Alley Perkins pinch ran for her, but UT could not drive in the run as Nunley struck out the next three Lady Vols.
The Wildcats grew their lead to 2-0 in the top of the fifth when Stokes hit a solo homer to left field with one out.
Madison Shipman drew a walk on four pitches with one out in the bottom of the sixth, but Nunley induced a pop-up to short to get the second out and Stokes made a great diving stop and toss to second on a fielder's choice to end the inning.
Tennessee will learn its NCAA Tournament draw on Sunday, May 11, when the NCAA bracket is announced on the NCAA Selection Show at 10 p.m. ET on ESPNU.