Sisters Ellen and Ivy Renfroe limited Kentucky to six hits, and the Wildcats left nine runners on base Thursday as No. 3 seed Tennessee beat No. 6 UK 4-1 to advance to the semifinals of the Southeastern Conference softball tournament at Oxford, Miss.
Tennessee (45-10) moved on to play Auburn, a 6-2 winner over Florida on Thursday.
Kentucky (36-14) is hoping to receive its third consecutive at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament when pairings are revealed Sunday at 10 p.m. on ESPNU.
Ellen Renfroe, a freshman, gave up all six Kentucky hits over five innings to earn the win and improve to 24-5. Ivy Renfroe, a sophomore, pitched the final two innings for her third save.
Kentucky's starting pitcher, Chanda Bell (13-6), allowed two runs on five hits over three innings. Rachel Riley pitched the final three innings, giving up two runs on three hits.
The Lady Vols scored two runs in the third inning and two in the fourth to secure the victory. Kentucky loaded the bases in the fifth, but the outburst produced only one run.
"We didn't do a very good job committing to driving the ball, and we didn't make any adjustments," UK Coach Rachel Lawson said. "When that happens and you're playing pitchers the caliber that they have, they pick your hitters apart. Even though we were able to put some things together, we weren't really able to get that timely hit, so that's going to be important moving forward."
Sophomore Kara Dill was the only Cat with multiple hits, going 3-for-4 with an RBI and a first-inning triple.
Tennessee scratched out its first run in the third inning when Raven Chavanne reached on a bunt single, stole second and scored on a single to right-center by Kelly Grieve. Kat Dotson drove home the second run with a bases-loaded floater to shallow right-center.
Chavanne's two-run single in the fourth after a UK error extended the inning and pushed the Volunteers' advantage to 4-0.
Kentucky finally broke through in the fifth. Alice O'Brien and Lauren Cumbess led off with walks. After consecutive infield pop-outs, Dill drove home O'Brien with a single to right.
Nwokey in 2nd in heptathlon
Kentucky's Precious Nwokey was in second place after four events of the heptathlon on the first day of the Southeastern Conference Track and Field Championships at Georgia on Thursday.
The junior finished third in the 100-meter hurdles at 13.94 and followed with a career-best high jump of 1.76 meters. The native of Houston finished 10th in the shot put but came back with a second-place finish in the 200-meter dash with a time of 24.58. The heptathlon resumes Friday with the long jump, javelin throw and the 800-meter run.
Running events will follow, with five Cats competing in the 800-meter preliminaries.