Feb. 20, 2005
STATESBORO, Ga. - The No. 7 Tennessee Lady Vols (13-0) picked up the tournament title at the Georgia Southern Invitational with a dominating 8-0 (5 inn.) victory over the Illinois-Chicago Flames at Eagle Field in Statesboro, Ga. Junior third baseman Kristi Durant (2-for-3, 4 RBI) and sophomore shortstop Lindsay Schutzler (2-for-3, 2 RBI, two runs scored) keyed the Orange & White offensive attack while sophomore lefthander Monica Abbott held UIC to two hits in five innings of work with 11 K's. Junior centerfielder Sarah Fekete also extended her Lady Vol record-hitting streak to 23 games with a 3-for-3 effort against the Flames.
For the weekend, Tennessee outscored its foes 36-0 over five games and allowed just six hits in 29 innings of play. The Lady Vol pitching staff has allowed only two runs in the opening 13 contests of 2005 and has registered five consecutive shutouts dating back to last weekend's 2-1 victory over then-No. 8 Washington at the Louisville Slugger Desert Classic in Las Vegas, Nev.
"Our pitching and defense have been phenomenal over the last eight to 10 games," said Lady Vol Co-Head Coach Karen Weekly. "Our offense really came alive during this tournament run at Georgia Southern. We have a young team and still have a lot to learn during this season. Our overall goal is to improve one percent each time we step out on the field. I was really proud of the way Tonya Callahan swung the bat today in the championship game.
Abbott, the USA Softball National Player of the Week, rolled through the opening two innings against UIC by striking out six of the first seven batters she faced. With the All-American in control on the mound, Tennessee began its offensive juggernaut in the bottom of the second with a walk by junior leftfielder and current Southeastern Conference Player of the Week Katherine Card. After a single through the right side by freshman catcher Shannon Doepking advanced Card to second, a base knock from junior rightfielder Stacey Jennings loaded the bags with no one out. Rookie first baseman Tonya Callahan plated the first run of the contest for the Lady Vols by hitting into a fielder choice to force Doepking at third for the first out of the frame.
After sophomore designated hitter India Chiles grounded out to the pitcher to advance baserunners to second and third with two down, Schutzler ripped an RBI base hit up the middle to score Jennings with UT's second run. Fekete followed with a shot down the left field line to plate Callahan and then promptly swiped second for her team-best 10th theft of the season. Durant completed the onslaught with her first two-RBI single of the contest by lining a shot to right field to score Fekete and Schutzler.
Abbott escaped a minor two-out jam in the Illinois-Chicago third as a double by centerfielder Cameron Astiazaran with two outs placed a UIC runner in scoring position. However, the 6'3" hurler forced a routine groundout to short by leftfielder Michelle Miller to end any scoring threat.
Perhaps the defensive play of the season to date was turned in by Doepking in the fourth inning as the UT backstop raced quickly to her right and made a diving stab of a popped up bunt attempt near the on-deck area.
Callahan got things cranked up for the Orange & White offense in the bottom of the fourth by lacing a long double to right center field. After freshman LaDonna Oliver was brought on as a pinch runner at second base, Chiles sacrificed Oliver to third with a perfectly placed bunt down the first base line. Schutzler tallied her second RBI of the contest with a single through the left side and stole second for her seventh theft of the campaign. Fekete added another base knock and both runners moved up a base on a wild pitch by UIC pitcher Lauren Brennan. With only one out, Durant came through in the clutch again with another two-RBI single, this time to left center, to set the score at 8-0, UT.
With its impressive five-game sweep during the Georgia Southern Invitational,
No. 7 Tennessee improved on its program-best start to a campaign at 13-0
overall. The Lady Vols will now play host to their first home games of the
season at Tyson Park on Wed., Feb 23, when the Marshall Thundering Herd visit
Knoxville, Tenn., for a doubleheader slated to begin at 2 p.m. Live stats
will be available through www.utladyvols.com.