Feb. 27, 2005
CATHEDRAL CITY, Calif. - In a contest that ended at approximately 1:43 a.m. ET (10:43 p.m. PT), the No. 5 Tennessee Lady Vol softball team was dealt its first defeat of the season in a 7-3 loss to the No. 1 California Golden Bears at the Palm Springs Classic in Cathedral City, Calif. Freshman catcher Shannon Doepking led the way with a 1-for-3, two-RBI effort, while sophomore shortstop Lindsay Schutzler went 2-for-4 with a run scored and junior leftfielder Katherine Card went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored. Rookie hurler Megan Rhodes took her first collegiate loss by allowing four runs on five hits in 4.1 innings of work.
"We obviously need to keep in mind that we won 16 straight games before tonight, and we were due to have a couple of miscues," said Lady Vol Co-Head Coach Ralph Weekly. "Unfortunately, they occurred against the best team in the country. Karen (Co-Head Coach Weekly) and I are so proud of the kids for fighting back and staying in the game until the very end. We are pleased with Megan Rhodes considering she has been ill with a virus for the last three days. We will have better outings as the season continues.
The top-ranked team in the country wasted no time getting on the scoreboard by ringing up two runs in the top of the first inning on two hits. Third baseman Vicky Galindo singled and advanced to second on a wild pitch. After a sacrifice moved the runner to third, lefty cleanup hitter Kaleo Eldridge drove a pitch from Rhodes deep to right to give the Golden Bears a 2-0 lead.
Tennessee allowed a golden opportunity to slip away in the bottom of the first frame as a Schutzler single out in front of the plate started a UT scoring threat. With one down, junior third baseman Kristi Durant delivered a base knock up the middle that ricocheted off the bag at second and into right field to advance Schutzler to third. After a UT strikeout, Card singled sharply to third to load the bases with two outs, however, a groundout to second ended the frame.
Cal added to its cushion with two runs in the second to knock Rhodes from the contest and then registered three unearned runs in the third inning off junior Stacey Jennings as a Lady Vol throwing error on a fielder's choice at second base gave UC's offense life. Golden Bear freshman designated player Jeana Gevas made UT pay for its miscue with a two-run home run to right field to grant Cal a 7-0 advantage.
The Orange & White demonstrated their resiliency by continuing to battle back despite the deficit and cut the UC lead to 7-3 with a scoring outburst in the bottom half of the third inning. A Schutzler leadoff single and a Durant walk placed runners at first and second with one down. After freshman LaDonna Oliver was brought on the pinch run for Durant, Card singled through the left side to plate Schutzler and get the Lady Vols on the board. Doepking followed with a towering double to left off Cal junior hurler Kristina Thorson to score two as Tennessee cut the gap to four runs.
Unfortunately for the Orange & White, Cal limited UT to just one baserunner through the final four innings as Card reached on an error by UC second baseman Jessica Pamanian to leadoff the sixth.
After Cal's three-run third, a combination of Rhodes and sophomore hurler Monica Abbott (2 IP, 0 H, 2K) effectively shut down the nation's top-ranked team the rest of the way.
The fifth-ranked Tennessee Lady Vols (16-1) will play their final game at the Palm Springs Classic on Sunday, Feb. 27, at Noon ET against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.