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Bison Softball Falls to No.8/9 Tennessee

The Howard Bison softball team faced an 11-4 defeat against the University of Tennessee Volunteers.

Howard faced off against the University of Tennessee. (Photo courtesy of The Hilltop sports)

The Bison welcomed the No.8/9 University of Tennessee to Washington, D.C. on March 11, marking the first time the program has hosted a nationally-ranked opponent.

The Bison were familiar with the playing style of the Volunteers and came in with new skills and recruits to showcase the progress made since their contest last season.

The first encounter with the Volunteers took place in Clearwater, Florida in Feb. 2023. The five-inning game concluded with a score of 21-1, with the Volunteers coming out on top. 

Tori Tyson, the head softball coach at Howard, reflected on the previous season’s game against the Volunteers. 

“I don’t think we played a good game of softball. It wasn’t like Howard softball,” she said.

At the top of the first, the Volunteers were able to get on the board with McKenna Gibson hitting, allowing Kiki Milloy to cross the plate and bring the score to 1-0.

The second inning is where the game saw the most action, with the Volunteers gathering nine runs. 

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The Bison were able to gather runs as well, scoring four runs, with Sidney Fletcher scoring a homerun at the bottom of the second, bringing teammate Kenna Higa across the plate as the Volunteers’ lead ballooned to 10-2.

Sidney Fletcher, a junior shortstop from Whitter, California, described her feelings after hitting her third homer of the season.

“I feel really good about it, especially since one of them came from Tennessee,” she said.

As the second continued, the Bison were determined to gather more runs, and a Merci Hart hit to the left side brought the score to 10-3. The at-bat to follow, Hart progressed to second on an error. This allowed Angel Riggins to run home on the throw, making the score 10-4.

After the rapid scoring of both teams in the second innings, innings three through six were scoreless for both teams. 

Merci Hart, a freshman catcher from Los Angeles, explained what the four scoreless innings showcased about the Bison’s defense.

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“Well, I think it’s a good job on our defense,” Hart said. “They scored nine runs in the second inning, and after that, I believe they only scored one more run for the rest of the game.”

At the top of the seventh, the Volunteers took the opportunity to score again, with a fielder’s choice giving Tennessee time to reach home, making their lead 11-4. 

At the bottom of the final inning, the Bison pushed to the very end with strong hits from Bianca Worthy and Maryn Jordan. Seven hits were posted from Hart, Riggins, and Cheyenne Castille, totaling two per player. 

Though the team fell short of the Volunteers, the Bison inched closer in every metric of the game. The Bison used the game against the Volunteers as an opportunity to improve once again inside of a hit against their confidence. 

“Whatever happened with Tennessee wasn’t gonna define us; it was either gonna hurt us or grow us and I think that we grew in that moment,” Tyson said.

On March 29, The Bison will stay in Washington, D.C. to take on the University of Maryland Eastern Shore’s Hawks.

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Copy edited by Jalyn Lovelady

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