March 4, 2005

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SUMMERVILLE, S.C. - Tennessee freshman right-handed pitcher Megan Rhodes (5-2) climbed back into the win column with a dominating six-inning, one-hit, career-high 13-strikeout performance in a 12-0 (6 inn.) rout of the Northern Colorado Bears in action at the Charleston Southern Tournament in Summerville, S.C. Sophomore shortstop Lindsay Schutzler (2-for-3, two walks), rookie pinch hitter Shannon Doepking (1-1) and designated player Natalie Brock (1-3, two runs scored) each had two RBI to lead the 12-hit Lady Vol attack while UT took advantage of eight UNC walks.

"We are pleased that the team rebounded with 12 hits in the game against Northern Colorado," said Lady Vol Co-Head Coach Ralph Weekly. "It would have been nice to have some of those hits against Providence. Our team needs to learn that as a Southeastern Conference team, we need to come to the park ready to play every single day because everyone's ready to try to knock us off. I think we learned some valuable lessons today.

After being shutout in its tournament opener against Providence (1-0), Tennessee wasted no time in jumping out on top of Northern Colorado by registering a run in the top of the first inning. Schutzler walked to lead off the tilt and promptly stole second to get into scoring position against UNC starting pitcher Stephani Miller. Following a groundout to second by junior centerfielder Sarah Fekete that advanced the UT runner to third, Miller uncorked a wild pitch to plate Schutzler with the Orange & White's first run. Northern Colorado wasted no time in bringing in a reliever as Kelsey Dumler came out of the bullpen to pitch after Miller faced just three batters.

Rhodes showed that last week's bout with the flu was behind her by blowing away three Northern Colorado batters in the bottom of the first inning and seven of the first eight hitters she faced in the contest. The only hit the Nashville, Tenn., native would allow in the game was a line drive single to center in the first by UNC catcher Whitney Platten. Rhodes faced just a single batter over the minimum during the match up.

With UT's hurler on cruise control, the Lady Vols struck for four runs in the top of the third inning to stake UT to a 5-0 advantage. Junior third baseman Kristi Durant got the offensive attack going with a lead-off single up the middle to begin the frame. After a Tennessee strikeout, sophomore second baseman Ashley Cline hit into a fielder's choice that forced Durant at second. On the play, Northern Colorado second baseman Nicole Martinez unleashed an erratic throw in an attempt to force Cline at first. The Gallatin, Tenn., native took advantage of the error by moving into scoring position with two down.

Bell and Brock drew consecutive walks to load the bases and sophomore catcher Brittany Bessho coerced a base-on-balls from Dumler to plate a run for a 2-0 UT lead. UNC brought starting pitcher Stephani Miller back in the contest, but she fared no better as Doepking greeted the new hurler with a two-RBI single to left and then Bessho raced home on a wild pitch to improve the Lady Vol lead to five runs.

The floodgates truly opened in the top of the sixth as Tennessee struck for seven runs as 13 Lady Vols strode to the plate during the inning. Sophomore leftfielder India Chiles drew a lead-off walk and scored on a double to right by Schutzler over a drawn-in outfield. Fekete reached on a fielder's choice that cut down Schutzler at the plate for the first out and then stole second for her team-best 11th theft of the season. Durant hit what looked like a routine grounder for the second out. That's when UNC's defense betrayed them and extended the inning as Martinez unleashed her second throwing error of the contest to score Fekete and advance Durant into scoring position. The hits began to come in bunches for Tennessee as junior rightfielder Stacey Jennings laced an RBI-single up the middle, freshman first baseman Tonya Callahan drove a base knock to left center and Brock doubled to left to plate two. Rookie Caitlin Ryan was brought on to pinch hit for Big Orange catcher Brittany Bessho and promptly tallied her first hit and run-batted-in with a single to right center to score Brock. Following a single by Chiles, Schutzler drove a pitch to left to score Ryan with UT's 12th and final run of the contest.

In the bottom half of the sixth inning, Rhodes completed her one-hitter with two groundouts and her career-best 13th strikeout as the UT rookie blew away Martinez.

The No. 5 Lady Vols will continue Pool A play at the Charleston Southern Tournament on Sat., Mar. 5, with match ups scheduled against Morehead State (10 a.m.) and Furman (Noon). Bracket playoffs will commence tomorrow evening at 6:30 and 8:30 p.m., and will continue into Sunday. Check into or call the Lady Vol Hotline at 865-974-8700 (#6) for updates and postgame stories.





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