March 6, 2005
SUMMERVILLE, S.C. - An overwhelming performance at the Charleston Southern Tournament in Summerville, S.C., ended with a championship as the fifth-ranked Tennessee Lady Vol softball team (23-3) downed Villanova, 4-0, to pick up the tournament trophy. Overall, during eight contests at the Gahagan Sports Complex, the Orange & White outscored its opponents 66-1 while the UT pitching staff recorded seven consecutive shutouts following a 1-0 defeat to Providence in the opening match up on Friday.
Kristi Durant (3B) registered her third home run of the campaign with a solo blast to right in the bottom of the third inning, rightfielder Stacey Jennings delivered an RBI double to left field and second baseman Ashley Cline executed a perfect RBI squeeze bunt that, combined with a throwing error by Villanova third baseman Sarah Wall, ended up plating two scores for a 4-0 lead UT would not relinquish.
"It is a tremendous accomplishment for our team to win seven-straight games at the Charleston Southern Tournament, all by shutouts, to win the title," said Lady Vol Co-Head Coach Ralph Weekly. "Every single player on this team contributed to this championship. It was a total team effort in every sense of the word.
After leaving three runners on base in the opening two frames against UV hurler Kristen Haynes, the Orange & White finally broke on the scoreboard with Durant's two-out big fly over the right field wall to put Villanova in a 1-0 hole.
With Abbott limiting the Wildcats to just one hit while striking out eight through her opening four innings of work, the Lady Vols added to their advantage in the bottom half of the fourth inning. A one-out single to left center by junior utility player Katherine Card opened the rally, and Jennings finished it with her RBI double into left. The high fly dropped in a perfect position between short and third to give Tennessee a 2-0 lead.
After a brief threat by Villanova in the top half of the fifth as a result of two walks, Cline came through in the bottom half of the inning with a clutch play at the plate to give UT some scoreboard insurance. With one down and runners at second and third following a two-bagger by Durant and a bunt single by junior centerfielder Sarah Fekete, Cline laid down a perfect squeeze bunt that the UV third baseman airmailed over first down the right field line. Cline gained an RBI on the play as Fekete scored easily, while Durant raced to the plate as a result of the erratic toss.
Abbott retired the final six consecutive hitters over the final two frames to seal a one-hit shutout and register her 45th career double-digit strikeout performance with 11 K's.
The No. 5 Lady Vols eagerly anticipate the opening to their home campaign at Tyson Park this Tuesday, Mar. 8, at 4 p.m., when Tennessee welcomes in Austin Peay for a doubleheader. Check into utladyvols.com for live stats of the home contests or contact the Lady Vol Hotline at 865-974-8700 (#6) for periodical updates during play.