Feb. 27, 2005
CATHEDRAL CITY, Calif. - Heading into today's matchup with Notre Dame shorthanded as a result of injury and illness, the No. 5 Tennessee Lady Vol softball team suffered a 5-2 defeat in final day action at the Palm Springs Classic in Cathedral City, Calif. The loss dropped UT's overall record to 16-2 while Notre Dame improved to 5-6.
Starting freshman pitcher Megan Rhodes, still recovering from a bout with the flu, was pegged with the loss after allowing four runs on four hits in three innings of work. UT did not have available the services of sophomore All-American pitcher Monica Abbott (flu) or their leading hitter, junior centerfielder Sarah Fekete, who sat out today's game after being struck in the forehead by an errant line drive foul ball while standing in the on-deck circle in the first inning of last night's match up with No. 1 California.
"Lindsay Schutzler had an exceptional game against Notre Dame," said Lady Vol Co-Head Coach Ralph Weekly. "She stood out for us both offensively and defensively. We are a better team than how we played today. Sometimes early in the season you need these types of games to progress as a team. Both the players and coaches will learn from these last two games.
Scoreless through two full frames, the Fighting Irish struck first with a four-run burst in the top of the third inning, highlighted by a three-run shot to left center by junior first baseman Meagan Ruthrauff, as ND grabbed a 4-0 lead. Not known for their power the round-tripper was only Notre Dame's third big fly of the season as a team. After a leadoff triple by shortstop Megan Schoonaert to open the frame set the tone, Irish centerfielder Megan Ciolli singled sharply to second base to plate ND's first run and launch the attack.
The Lady Vols answered right back in the bottom half of the third as freshman Tonya Callahan drew a leadoff walk to jump-start the offense. After a UT strikeout, sophomore shortstop Lindsay Schutzler drove a pitch from Notre Dame starting pitcher Steffany Stenglein deep to right center field to cut the Orange & White deficit to 4-2.
The Irish added to its advantage in the top of the fourth as ND strung together a single to center, two consecutive groundouts and an error to plate an unearned run to move ahead 5-2.
The Orange & White managed to get a runner to second base in both the fifth and seventh innings with two outs but could not cut into the three-run deficit. Having come into the contest for the Irish following Schutzler's big fly, Notre Dame relief pitcher Melanie Booth stymied the Lady Vol offense by allowing just one hit, a Brittany Bessho single through the right side, over the final 4.2 innings.