KNOXVILLE, TN - 2023.05.20 - Tennessee vs. Indiana

The Tennessee Lady Volunteers celebrate during the 2023 NCAA Softball tournament regional game Saturday between the Indiana Hoosiers and the Vols at Sherri Parker Lee Stadium in Knoxville.

Although none of Nashville's teams qualified for the 2023 NCAA Softball Tournament, a pair of Tennessee schools represented the state well on the opening weekend of the sport's biggest stage.

Tennessee, the No. 4 national seed and host of the Knoxville Regional, advanced to the Knoxville Super Regional with three consecutive wins at Sherri Parker Lee Stadium. 

On Friday, the Lady Vols run-ruled Horizon League champions Northern Kentucky 12-0 in five innings in the first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance for the Norse. Payton Gottshall pitched a no-hitter, tossing nine strikeouts and allowing just two walks. 

Tennessee followed that up with another dominant performance on Saturday, defeating Indiana 9-1 in five innings for another run-rule win. Ashley Rogers came through with the complete-game performance on the mound, pitching five strikeouts.

The Lady Vols clinched the regional title with a 7-3 win over Indiana on Sunday, with Gottshall again earning the win. Kiki Milloy and Zaida Puny each launched a pair of home runs in the regional.

Tennessee (47-8) will face No. 13-seed Texas in game one of the Knoxville Super Regional on Friday. 

Middle Tennessee (42-20) nearly joined the Lady Vols in reaching the Super Regional stage, which was extra impressive considering the Blue Raiders had never won an NCAA Tournament game prior to this season.

A seven-run fifth inning propelled MT to their first-ever NCAA Tournament win on Friday, as they run-ruled ASUN champs Central Arkansas 8-0 in five innings. Gretchen Mead went the distance for the Blue Raiders, allowing just four hits and two walks.

In game two on Saturday, MT stumbled against regional host No. 5-seed Alabama 12-5. The Blue Raiders led 5-4 after three innings, but an eight-run fourth inning put the Crimson Tide ahead for good. 

MT faced off with Central Arkansas again on Saturday. They defeated the Sugar Bears 3-0 off the back of another shutout from Mead. 

On Sunday, MT upset the Crimson Tide 4-1 in Tuscaloosa to force a winner-take-all regional final. Mead once again went the distance for the Blue Raiders, allowing five hits and zero walks to the Alabama batters.

In the final game on Sunday, MT came up one game short of a first-ever Super Regional appearance, falling to Alabama 1-0.

The two teams were tied at 0-0 going into the top of the seventh when the Crimson Tide's Ally Shipman homered down the left field line. Each team finished with exactly five hits. Kamryn Carcich pitched all seven innings for the Blue Raiders, giving up five hits and only one walk.

Shortstop Laura Mealer paced the Blue Raiders at the plate for the weekend, totaling seven hits, six RBI, five runs scored, two home runs, two stolen bases and a double. 

This story was first published by our sister publication The News.