March 8, 2005

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The fifth-ranked Tennessee Lady Vol softball team (25-3) utilized some serious power at the plate in successfully sweeping a doubleheader from in-state foe Austin Peay on Tues., Mar. 8. The Big Orange bashed three three-run home runs during a 13-0 (5 inn.) victory at Tyson Park in cold, blustery conditions. Junior utility player Katherine Card blasted a shot off the scoreboard in left center field in the first, rookie Tonya Callahan demonstrated her power with a towering bomb onto the interstate overpass in left field during a five-run second and freshman designated player Shannon Doepking mashed a big fly to left in the third. The Lady Vols now have 23 home runs on the season and have registered nine consecutive shutouts while outscoring foes during the skein 88-1. UT rookie Megan Rhodes turned in a masterful two-hit, nine-K performance on the mound to pick up her seventh win of the campaign.

"Once again I am really happy with how strongly we started the game," said Lady Vol Co-Head Coach Ralph Weekly. "Megan Rhodes pitched really well for us, and the three three-run home runs were huge. Lindsay Schutzler and Sarah Fekete continue to ignite our offensive attack almost every time they step to the plate.

Austin Peay tried to utilize some of Tennessee's medicine by attempting to get to UT's hurler in the top of the first inning. Following a leadoff strikeout by Rhodes of APSU rightfielder Taylor Newberry, the Lady Govs strung together back-to-back singles by shortstop Jennifer Simpkins and centerfielder Stephanie Eggers to put two on with just one down. Rhodes settled down and showed the form that made her the state of Tennessee's all-time high school career strikeout leader by punching out two consecutive batters to escape the jam.

With Rhodes completing the job in the top half of the first, the Tennessee offense struck in the opening inning once again with a four-run effort. Schutzler started things off with a base hit down the left field line and stole second to advance into scoring position. With one down, the Monterey, Calif., native swiped third and was joined on the basepaths by junior third baseman Kristi Durant, who drew a walk off Austin Peay hurler Natasha Anderson. With two outs, Doepking delivered the first game-changing hit of the game by doubling into the gap in left center to grant Tennessee a 1-0 lead. Card followed immediately with her big fly that rattled off the scoreboard for a 4-0 advantage.

After batting around in the first, the Orange & White improved their advantage to 9-0 after two innings on a two-run double by Durant and Callahan's three-run shot to left. The home run for the Holden, Mo., native was noteworthy for two reasons. First of all, the homer was the freshman's first collegiate round-tripper. Secondly, the huge blast landed on and bounced across the Alcoa Highway overpass far beyond the left field wall.

UT struck for three more in the third frame on Doepking's shot to left and added a final tally in the fourth as Schutzler ripped an RBI double into the gap in left center to score sophomore catcher Brittany Bessho.

Rhodes completed her five-inning, two-hit performance by striking out pinch hitter Dawn Hellweg, fielding a groundball from designated player Amy Hale and throwing to first for a put out and punching out pinch hitter Brittanie Oleman to secure the 13-0 win.

For the day, UT hit .532 as a team while Schutzler led the way at the plate by connecting at an .833 clip (5-of-6). Durant registered three two-RBI doubles and Callahan knocked in five runs to continue her hot hitting from the Charleston Southern Tournament (.500 on 10-of-20).

The Lady Vols will continue their homestand by welcoming in-state foe East Tennessee State to Tyson Park for a 4 p.m. doubleheader on Wed., Mar. 9.





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