March 14, 2006
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Tennessee junior pitcher Monica Abbott broke the Southeastern Conference career strikeout record held by former LSU hurler Britni Sneed (1999-2002) with the 10th of her 13 K's in No. 2 UT's 8-0 (5) win over Belmont. Now at 1,374 career strikeouts, the Salinas, Calif., native picked up her 14th straight victory of the campaign while allowing just one hit.
Freshman third baseman Jennifer Griffin hit her team-best sixth home run of the season in a 3-for-3, two RBI effort, while the SEC's leading hitter and reigning league player of the week Sarah Fekete continued her solid play by going 3-for-3 with two runs scored. The Lady Vols improved to a perfect 22-0 to continue the best opening to a campaign in history.
Now seventh on the NCAA Division I career strikeout list with 1,374 K's, the Salinas, Calif., native Abbott passed LSU's Sneed with her final punchout of the fourth inning. She climbed from ninth to seventh in NCAA history during the course of the game.
The Lady Vol pitching staff hasn't allowed a run in the last 60.2 innings of
work while recording 10 straight shutouts. They are threatening the program
record for consecutive scoreless frames that was established during the 2005
campaign of 75.2 straight innings and 11 shutouts. Abbott now stands at 37.2
consecutive scoreless frames through the Belmont contest.
Tennessee's Abbott allowed a single to lead-off the first and that was about all that the Bruins could manage against the two-time All-American hurler. The only other baserunner allowed by UT's hurler was on a fielding error in the Bruin third.
The Lady Vols wasted no time in getting the home season off to a rousing start with three runs in the bottom half of the first inning. Junior shortstop Lindsay Schutzler reached on an error to open the frame, and Fekete followed with a single out in front of the plate to put two runners on base. The runners advanced a base on a groundout by senior designated player Kristi Durant. With sophomore first baseman Tonya Callahan at the plate, Belmont's catcher allowed a passed ball that allowed Schutzler to plate the first run of the contest. Senior right fielder Katherine Card fouled out to the shortstop near the Tennessee dugout for the second out of the inning. However on the play, the fielder crossed into the dugout for an error by rule and Fekete scored unearned. Griffin laced a hard single up the middle for an RBI to make it 3-0, UT.
Tennessee's rookie third baseman Griffin continued her outstanding game with a long home run to deep left field in the bottom of the third inning. The round tripper was the Whittier, Calif., native's team-best sixth of the campaign.
After Abbott achieved league history in the top half of the fourth, the Big Orange added four more tallies to the scoreboard in the bottom of the frame. Junior left fielder India Chiles led off the inning by singling up the middle and advanced to second on a Schutzler ground out. With one down, Fekete slapped a shot out in front of the plate and beat the throw to first to grant UT a pair of baserunners. Durant hammered a two-run double into the gap in right center for a 6-0 advantage. Then Callahan stepped into the box and ripped a two-RBI double to left field that got hung behind an advertisement hanging on the fence for a ground rule double to finalize the count at 8-0, Tennessee.
Abbott struck out the side in the top of the fifth to close out her 14th straight win and improved the Lady Vols to 22-0 on the season.