Feb. 4, 2005
CLEARWATER, Fla. - In her first collegiate appearance, freshman pitcher Megan Rhodes picked up her first career victory with 4.1 innings of two-hit, one-run ball and junior right fielder Stacey Jennings drilled a grand slam in the fifth frame to provide all the offense necessary for the No. 13 Lady Vols as they defeated the DePaul Blue Demons 6-1 to improve their record to a perfect 2-0 on the young season. Sophomore hurler Monica Abbott picked up a save in relief and struck out five in 2.2 innings to break former UT pitcher Stephanie Humphrey's career strikeout record (596). She established the new mark with a K that ended a bases-loaded threat by the Blue Demons in the fifth.
"Megan Rhodes looked very good in her first collegiate game today, and we are extremely proud of her," said Lady Vol Co-Head Coach Ralph Weekly. "However, today was the day for Lindsay Schutzler and Sarah Fekete. They both shone brightly on offense and defense all day. Our inclusion of a speed package has really helped our offense. Monica (Abbott) was a key for us today as she has been since she arrived on campus. We are extremely pleased for her that she broke the school record for strikeouts."
DePaul struck first in the bottom of the first inning with a home run to left field on a 3-2 pitch from Rhodes. The score would remain 1-0 through the middle innings until the fifth frame before the Lady Vols mounted a spirited rally.
After sophomore Ashley Cline reached on an error and Schutzler dropped down a bunt single to place runners at first and second, Fekete sacrificed both runners up a base. Solid hitting junior third baseman Kristi Durant was intentionally walked to load the bases for Jennings, and the gamble backfired as the right fielder launched a long shot into left center field to give UT a 4-1 advantage.
"The big blow in game two was clearly Stacey Jennings' grand slam home run," said Lady Vol Co-Head Coach Ralph Weekly. "It was set up by an error, a single and a walk. Stacey stayed in and finished high to drive the ball over the fence."
The Blue Demons threatened in the bottom of the fifth by getting two runners on before Abbott was summoned from the bullpen in a save situation. After intentionally walking the bases loaded due to a situational gamble, the Salinas, Calif., native picked up the final out of the inning with her record 597th career K.
The Orange & White would add two more runs in the top of the 7th as Fekete tripled to left to cash in a leadoff single by Schutzler and then a Durant groundout scored Fekete to set the final score at 6-1.
Tennessee will continue its stay at the Clearwater Invitational on Saturday as the Lady Vols will face Gardner-Webb and Florida A&M in Pool A play at 2:30 and 5 p.m., respectively.