Erin Gabriel (15-6) earned the win, pitching six innings while only allowing one run and striking out 10. Rainey Gaffin pitched the final inning in relief, notching her second save of the season.
Scarlet McSwain and Tory Lewis led the offense, each had RBI singles in the fourth inning.
The loss is the first of the season for Florida pitcher Lauren Haeger (24-1).
Tennessee improved to 42-14 on the season, while Florida dropped to 50-6.
The SEC Tournament championship game starts at 8 p.m. Saturday night on ESPN.
Forum discussion: Game Thread Lady Vols in the SEC Tournament
BASEBALL VOLS TOP NO. 20 ARKANSAS IN GAME ONE, KEEP POSTSEASON HOPES ALIVE
Led by four hits from second baseman Nick Senzel, Tennessee defeated 20th-ranked Arkansas in game one of the weekend series in Fayetteville.
“We set the stage that this was like a regional and we have to play like that,” Head Coach Dave Serrano said. “It wasn’t perfect. We left some runners in scoring position but tonight was about picking guys up. The defense was really spectacular again and then there’s the pitching. It’s like I’ve been saying that last couple of weeks, I’m very proud of these guys. We couldn’t easily tanked it but I think tonight shows that we’re not ready to quit. We’re going to go down until someone tells us we can’t play anymore.”
Trailing 4-2, Tennessee plated three runs in the top of the seventh inning. Nick Senzel scored on an RBI double from Christin Stewart, followed by an RBI single from A.J. Simcox that tied the score at 4-4. Stewart scored on a wild pitch to give Tennessee its first lead, 5-4.
On the mound, Andy Cox pitched seven innings, striking out six while allowing four runs. Jacob Westphal and Kyle Serrano pitched a scoreless eighth before Andrew Lee closed the game out in the ninth, earning his eighth save of the season.
Hunter Martin will take the hill for game two in Saturday night’s 7:05 p.m. start, which will be broadcast on SEC Network+ steam online and via the Watch ESPN app.
Forum discussion: Official Tennessee at #20 Arkansas Game 1 Thread – 7:35 PM SECN/ESPN3
Forum discussion: Official Tennessee at #20 Arkansas Game 2 Thread – 7 PM – SECN/ESPN3