Feb. 6, 2005
CLEARWATER, Fla. - The No. 13 Tennessee Lady Vol softball team completed its run at the Clearwater Invitational at a perfect 5-0 overall after a commanding 4-0 victory over the Louisville Cardinals on Sunday at the Eddie C. Moore Softball Complex in Clearwater, Fla. Sophomore hurler Monica Abbott was once again at the top of her form by recording seven shutout innings of work with 13 strikeouts. Sophomore shortstop Lindsay Schutzler contributed a two-run double in the second inning and freshman catcher Shannon Doepking hit her first career home run in the top of the fourth to key a seven-hit Orange & White offensive attack. With another blanking, Abbott stretched her scoreless streak to 24 innings through five appearances to open the 2005 campaign. Host school Florida also went 5-0 on the weekend as both teams posted unblemished slates throughout tournament play.
"We are really proud of our kids to come down to this tournament and go 5-0," said Lady Vol Co-Head Coach Ralph Weekly. "Louisville really proved its mettle by beating No. 4 Oklahoma yesterday to advance into this game. Our kids came to the field ready to play, and our defense and pitching were outstanding this weekend. Lindsay Schutzler and Sarah Fekete continue to shine in the 1-2 slots and are leading our offense. Shannon Doepking's home run (her first collegiate hit) is just a sign of things to come for her. She's a great hitter and will be a solid contributor throughout this season. I was very impressed by Louisville, they are a strong team, and this is a good win for our program.
After UT threatened to get on the scoreboard by leaving two runners on in the top of the first, the Orange & White hit paydirt in the second frame. Designated player Brittany Bessho led off the inning with a hard single to second base and advanced to second on a groundout by Doepking to third. A wild pitch advanced Bessho a base and freshman first baseman Tonya Callahan walked to place runners at the corners with one down. Following a strikeout, Schutzler stepped to the dish and laced a two-run double to left center to plate Bessho and Callahan and propel UT to a 2-0 advantage.
Meanwhile, Abbott was cruising along until allowing a modest bloop single to center field by Louisville shortstop Courtney Moore. The occurrence was noteworthy because the Salinas, Calif., native had not allowed a hit in her previous 11.1 innings of work over four appearances.
Leading off the fourth inning, Doepking drove a pitch deep to left field for a solo home run to improve the Lady Vols' advantage to 3-0. The round-tripper went into the official book as the rookie's first career base hit. After another Callahan walk and an Ashley Cline fly out to left field, freshman Kenora Posey (pinch-running for the UT first baseman) scampered home from second with Tennessee's fourth run on a dropped ball error by Cardinal first baseman Alma Navarrette on a hard liner to third by junior center fielder Sarah Fekete.
The Lady Vols would threaten in the sixth and the seventh innings but failed to add to the lead and left five runners on base combined over the two frames. Abbott struck out two of the last three batters she faced in the seventh and induced a groundout to third base to end the contest and improve her record this season to a flawless 3-0.