Feb. 23, 2007
CATHEDRAL CITY, Calif. - No. 1 Tennessee used walks, hit batters and clutch base hits to score five runs to back senior pitcher Monica Abbott's one-hit, 14-strikeout performance as the Lady Vols defeated No. 22 Fresno State, 5-0, on Friday afternoon at the Palm Springs Classic in Cathedral City, Calif. Abbott has 149 career victories leaving her just two short of tying the NCAA Division I career win record of 151.
Senior left fielder India Chiles was 3-of-4 at the dish while fellow senior Lindsay Schutzler contributed two hits from her lead-off position. Freshmen Erinn Webb and Nicole Kajitani recorded RBI's on a hit by pitch and walk with the bases loaded, respectively. Junior first baseman Tonya Callahan knocked in a run in the fifth on a single up the middle for her 11th RBI of the campaign.
Abbott's shutout skein now stands at an impressive 42.1 consecutive frames dating back to the sixth inning of the 2-1 victory at North Carolina on Feb. 10. The Tennessee pitching staff has now hurled six consecutive shutouts and hasn't allowed a tally over the last 41.1 frames. The 6-3 lefthander has now struck out the side 34 times in 2007 and has a remarkable 139 strikeouts in 55 innings of work for an average of 17.7 K's per seven frames.
The contest opened as a pitcher's duel with Abbott and Fresno State's Robin Mackin striking out two and three, respectively, in the first. Freshman catcher Tiffany Huff ripped a single off the glove of FSU first baseman Lindsay Milchovich with two outs in the top of the opening frame, but she was stranded right there.
Abbott struck out the Bulldog side in the bottom of the second marking, at that point, the 32nd time in 2007 that the 6-3 lefthander had accomplished the feat.
Schutzler managed a two-out bunt single off Mackin in the top of the third for Tennessee's second hit of the contest, but the senior center fielder was caught stealing on a close play at second to conclude the frame.
With Abbott in control, Tennessee went to the speed game in the top of the fourth in an attempt to get the offense going against Mackin. Chiles reached on a bunt single and advanced to second on a slow rolling base knock to short by freshman designated player Alexia Clay. Callahan drew a walk to load the bags with one out, and sophomore third baseman Jennifer Griffin struck out after working the count to 3-2 to bring up right fielder Erinn Webb. The nearby Hemet, Calif., product came through with the help of FSU's Mackin as she was struck by an offering in the elbow to force in the contest's initial run. Second baseman Nicole Kajitani demonstrated extreme patience at the dish by drawing a bases loaded walk off Mackin to improve the count to 2-0 in favor of the Big Orange. Sophomore shortstop Liane Horiuchi grounded a ball sharply to deep short, but Fresno State's Haley Perkins made a superb backhanded play and throw to third for the force to end the frame. Tennessee totaled two runs on two hits, two walks and a hit batter as eight Lady Vols visited the plate.
Consecutive base hits by Schutzler and Chiles got the offense started in the top of the fifth. With one retired following a strikeout, Clay grounded to short to advance the runners up 60 feet and into scoring position. Callahan grounded a ball to third that FSU's Kristin Sylvester handled on a superb grab going to her left. Her throw was low, however, and got away from Milchovich at first for a crucial error that permitted both Schutzler and Chiles to race home for a 4-0 lead. The trailing runner Chiles was almost thrown out at the dish but managed a diving swipe of the plate just before catcher Nichole Willis applied the tag.
Chiles keyed another rally in the top of the seventh with her third base hit of the contest. Huff dropped a perfect sacrifice bunt to advance the runner into scoring position. After a UT strikeout, Callahan cashed Chiles in from second with a sharp RBI single up the middle for Tennessee's fifth and final run.
Abbott flirted with another no-hitter, but with two down in the bottom of the seventh, FSU's Sylvester ripped a shot through the left side to break up the bid. Willis lined a hard shot to second base, but Kajitani made a leaping grab to end the contest and secure UT's 12th straight victory.
No. 1 Tennessee will next be in action at the Palm Springs Classic in Cathedral City, Calif., on Friday night against No. 12 UCLA (8:30 p.m. PT). Periodic updates will be provided on the Lady Vol Hotline at 865-974-8700 (box #6).