Feb. 10, 2007
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Two games are down at the Carolina Classic in Chapel Hill, N.C., and two run-rule victories are in the bag for No. 2 Tennessee as the Lady Vols (2-0) defeated the Penn State Nittany Lions (0-1), 9-1 (five inn.), on Saturday morning at Eugene Stone Stadium.
The Big Orange erupted for seven runs in the bottom of the first to take early control and rode the combined efforts of senior pitcher Monica Abbott (2 IP, 0H, 6K) and winning junior hurler Megan Rhodes (3 IP, 2H, 1ER, 4K) to the triumph.
Junior third baseman Jennifer Griffin continued her early season onslaught with a 2-for-3, two RBI effort while senior center fielder Lindsay Schutzler also knocked in a pair of runs with an RBI single in the opening frame. Junior first baseman Tonya Callahan and sophomore shortstop Liane Horiuchi each drove in a tally as part of UT's nine-hit, nine-run assault.
Abbott rolled through the Nittany Lion line-up in order in the top of the first with three consecutive strikeouts. That brought up the vaunted Lady Vol offensive attack looking to put that important opening run on the scoreboard.
The UT attack wouldn't disappoint with the assistance of some crucial Penn State fielding errors as Schutzler got the bottom of the first frame started with a walk. The Monterey, Calif., native advanced all the way around to third on a miscue by third baseman Shana Madura on a hard ground ball off the bat of Chiles. Following a strikeout by Huff, Penn State hurler Ashley Esparza uncorked a wild pitch that bounced off the backstop and eluded all attempts to be corralled permitting both Chiles and Schutzler to race home from second and third, respectively, for a 2-0 advantage. Sophomore right fielder Danielle Pieroni and junior designated player Shannon Doepking followed with consecutive singles to set the table for Griffin. She continued her hot early-season hitting with an RBI double to short left center for a 3-0 lead. Sophomore shortstop Liane Horiuchi singled deep to short to plate Doepking for a four-run advantage. A stolen base by Horiuchi and another fielding error, this one by PSU shortstop Jen Acunto, allowed pinch hitter Alexia Clay to reach safely as Griffin crossed with UT's fifth run. Junior second baseman Kenora Posey re-entered for Clay to run the bases and promptly swiped second to again grant the Big Orange a pair in scoring position. Schutzler came through in the clutch with a bloop single into center to score both runners and effectively conclude the onslaught. In all, 11 Lady Vols visited the dish and seven runs touched the plate on five hits and two Nittany Lion errors.
With a comfortable lead after just one inning, Abbott continued her power display by striking out Esparza, Acunto and first baseman Jenn Reynolds to up her total to six K's through just two frames of work.
The contest then devolved into a pitcher's duel as Esparza settled in to strikeout the side in the second and Abbott gave way to Rhodes who retired PSU one-two-three in the top of the third.
Chiles ignited a one-out rally in the bottom of the fourth with a bouncing single to short that the Louisville, Ky., native beat out to first. Huff followed with a single into short left field to grant UT a pair of baserunners with just one retired. That brought up last season's Southeastern Conference RBI leader in Callahan. The Holden, Mo., product drove a shot to right field that dropped over the head of Meghan Wolfer and ricocheted off the fence for a double to score Chiles and make it 8-0 UT. Freshman second baseman Nicole Kajitani hit into a fielder's choice that cut down the Huff at the plate for the inning's second out. Doepking walked and Griffin drove an Esparza offering up the middle for an RBI single for Tennessee's ninth run. Kajitani was thrown out at the plate, however, by center fielder Danielle Kinley to end the fourth inning.
PSU finally managed some offense against Rhodes in the top of the fifth as Esparza registered a lead-off solo home run deep to left to cut the deficit to 9-1. Acunto singled to right to continue the assault, but the UT junior settled in to coerce a flyout and two consecutive K's to end the match-up by run-rule after four-and-a-half frames.
The Big Orange will next take to the diamond on Saturday afternoon, Feb. 10 at 3 p.m., against homestanding North Carolina. Periodic updates will be provided on the Lady Vol Hotline at 865-974-8700 (box #6).