March 2, 2007
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - The dominant pitching continued into the afternoon for No. 1 Tennessee (17-0) as junior hurler Megan Rhodes struck out a career-high 19 in throwing her first career perfect game as the Lady Vols rolled past Oakland, 7-0, at the Frost Classic in Chattanooga, Tenn. The Nashville, Tenn., native has now worked 14 straight innings in the circle without allowing a run. On the day, UT pitchers combined to strikeout 37 hitters after Monica Abbott K'ed 18 in the opener against Illinois-Chicago.
The Big Orange offense rang up 15 hits in the victory with freshman pinch hitter Alexia Clay striking the big blow with her first career grand slam in the third inning. Rookie catcher Tiffany Huff and junior first baseman Tonya Callahan each were 3-of-4 at the dish with the former knocking in her team-best 26th run of the campaign. Senior center fielder Lindsay Schutzler posted a pair of hits as 10 Lady Vols tallied base knocks in the victory.
"Both Karen (co-head coach Weekly) and I thought the pitching was superb all day today," Lady Vol co-head coach Ralph Weekly said. "It's amazing that between Monica Abbott and Megan Rhodes, the two pitchers combined for 37 strikeouts. Our offense got a lot of hits in both games, but few RBI because we left a lot of runners in scoring position. When we are able to put it together in all facets of the game, we are a better team than we were today."
After a two-out rally left the bases loaded in the bottom of the first inning for Tennessee with no scoreboard damage, the Lady Vols scratched out the game's first run in the second with a pair retired. Junior shortstop Kenora Posey led off the inning with a single back to the pitcher and promptly swiped a base to gain scoring position. Schutzler ripped a base knock into left field to plate Posey for a 1-0 lead.
Rhodes started the contest in truly dominating fashion in the circle by striking out eight of the first nine Oakland batters she faced through the opening three innings.
Consecutive singles by Callahan and Griffin as well as a one out walk drawn by freshman second baseman Anita Manuma loaded the bases for freshman pinch hitter Alexia Clay in the bottom of the third. The rookie power hitter from Rochester, Ind., came through in a big way by hammering her first career grand slam to deep center field to grant No. 1 Tennessee a 5-0 advantage.
An RBI single from Huff in the fourth and a run-scoring base knock from redshirt freshman Allison Fulmer in the sixth set the score at 7-0 Tennessee.
That was more than enough for Rhodes as the right hander struck out 11 of the last 12 Oakland hitters she faced over the final four frames on her way to a career-high 19 K's in the perfect game. Her previous best strikeout total was 13 against Northern Colorado way back on March 4, 2005, in the Charleston Southern Tournament in Summerville, S.C.
No. 1 Tennessee will be back in action at the Frost Classic on Saturday morning against Tennessee Tech at 10 a.m. on Hargraves Field near the Jim Frost Stadium on the campus of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Live stats will be available through utladyvols.com and periodic updates will be provided to the Lady Vol Hotline at 865-974-870 (box #6).