March 25, 2007
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - A nine-hit offensive outburst, a one-hit shutout from senior pitcher Monica Abbott and a staggering five Arkansas errors helped lead No. 1 Tennessee (33-2, 11-2 SEC) to a Southeastern Conference series sweep on Sunday afternoon at Tyson Park at UT defeated the Lady Razorbacks (12-28, 0-8 SEC), 5-0. With the win, the Lady Vols continue the best start to a season in program history at 33-2 and are deadlocked with the 2005 squad for the top start to a SEC campaign at 11-2.
After becoming the Lady Vol career hit leader during Saturday's doubleheader against UA, senior center fielder Lindsay Schutzler continued her solid weekend at the plate with another base knock and RBI during Sunday's match-up. The two-time All-American from Monterey, Calif., now has 319 hits during her illustrious career wearing the Orange & White to stand four ahead of former Tennessee star Kristi Durant (315 hits). Senior left fielder India Chiles led the offensive attack on Sunday with a 3-for-4 effort with an RBI and a run scored to raise her season batting average to a team-best .451. Junior first baseman Tonya Callahan knocked in her 23rd run of the campaign on a single up the middle, while junior catcher Shannon Doepking delivered a 2-for-3 effort at the plate. Sophomore pinch hitter Lillian Hammond also singled and scored in her lone at-bat.
In the circle, Abbott improved to a remarkable 26-1 for the year by allowing just one hit while striking out 14 in the complete-game shutout. With her 34-strikeout performance during the three-game sweep of Arkansas, the Salinas, Calif., product has now climbed within 178 strikeouts (2,088) of eclipsing the NCAA Division I career K record held by former Texas hurler Cat Osterman (2,265).
"It was a great day for both our offense and our defense," Lady Vol co-head coach Ralph Weekly said. "We had the best play we've had at third base all season. We elected to play Kenora Posey at the position where she started for us during all of last year's NCAA Regionals and for one game during the Super Regionals. She did an outstanding job for us today versus Arkansas. We also decided to place Nicole Kajitani at second where she had a really good game. India Chiles' shoulder obviously continues to improve every day after going 3-for-4, and Lindsay Schutzler continues to drive in runs for us. Tiffany Huff is expected to be back from her ankle injury in a couple of weeks, so things are improving for our team. Both Karen (co-head coach Weekly) and I thought Monica Abbott was excellent in the circle today."
As she has done so often this year, Abbott rolled through the top of the first inning as Arkansas center fielder Jessica Bachkora struck out, right fielder Rachel LeMaster popped out in foul territory outside of third base and catcher Whitney Cloer went down swinging for a very quiet top half.
Chiles got the offense off to the right start by leading off the bottom of the first with a single into short left center field. UA left fielder Jocelyne Moncrief came racing in from her defensive position and dove for the bloop off Chiles' bat but came up just short of making an outstanding play. Kajitani was asked to drop the sacrifice bunt and performed her job perfectly to move the runner up 60 feet into scoring position. Schutzler grounded out to the right side of the infield to advance Chiles to third for the second retirement. That brought Callahan to the plate bidding to give the Lady Vols the lead. The Holden, Mo., native ripped a liner through the left side of the infield for her 23rd RBI to grant UT a 1-0 advantage. With Callahan residing at first, junior catcher Shannon Doepking grounded a ball to short that Arkansas' Brittany Robison allowed to roll right between her legs and three-quarters of the way to the wall for an error allowing the base runner to score all the way from first for a two-run lead. Freshman designated player Alexia Clay flied out to left, but Tennessee had already done some scoreboard damage with two runs on two hits and a crucial UA fielding miscue. The Big Orange entered today's series finale a perfect 13-0 when scoring in the first inning and 29-0 when tallying the contest's initial run.
The top of the second inning marked the 73rd time this season that UT's 6-3 left hander struck out the side in a frame as third baseman Dayna Huckabee, first baseman Samantha Buckner and Robison all went down swinging versus Abbott to up her K total to five.
Junior third baseman Kenora Posey worked a two-out walk against Arkansas' Katy Henry to ignite a possible Lady Vol rally in the bottom of the second. The Los Angeles, Calif., native took off for second on a steal attempt and reached safely as Cloer's double-clutched, wild throw drifted wide of the base and bounced off umpire Tim Kasate's right knee into left center field allowing Posey to race into third. Chiles slapped a high bouncer that nearly cleared Henry's outstretched glove, but the UA hurler made the play to strand the runner just 60 feet from paydirt.
The dominance from the circle continued through the Lady'Back half of the third as Abbott upped her strikeout total to eight in the contest and seven K's in a row by punching out designated player Kayla Johnson, second baseman Brandy Baze and Moncrief in order.
Kajitani ripped a Henry offering to left field to grant UT a speedy base runner to start the bottom of the third. After the San Bernardino, Calif., swiped second to advance into scoring position, Schutzler drove a sharp liner up the middle to plate Kajitani for a 3-0 advantage. On the play, Red & Black center fielder Bachkora attempted to hit the cut off woman at second but her throw sailed high and towards the Lady'Back dugout for an error allowing Schutzler to race safely into second. The lead grew to four runs just moments later as the runner took off for third on a steal attempt. Schutzler was credited with her 17th stolen base of the campaign and crossed home with UT's fourth tally as Cloer's throw from behind the plate sailed past the uncovered third base bag and down the left field line for UA's fourth miscue of the contest.
Hammond dropped a perfect bunt to lead off the bottom of the fourth and beat the throw to first for a single. On the play, Huckabee's toss sailed wide of the bag for Arkansas' fifth error of the match-up allowing the sophomore from Chattanooga, Tenn., to move into scoring position. Chiles came through in the clutch with her second hit of the contest to plate Hammond from second and improve Tennessee's lead to 5-0.
The offensive assault continued in the bottom of the fifth as Doepking laced a one-out single past the shortstop to register UT's eighth hit of the day. Clay battled to draw a free pass against Henry to place two on, but they remained stranded where they stood as sophomore right fielder Danielle Pieroni fouled out to first and Horiuchi went down swinging to close the frame.
Tennessee's Callahan retired a pair of Lady'Backs on pop-ups near the bag at first in the top of the sixth, one in foul ground and one in fair territory, and Abbott K'ed number 13 to bring up the UT offense looking to add to a five-run lead.
With one down in the bottom of the sixth, Chiles hammered a shot into the left center field gap that tailed away from center fielder Bachkora and to the wall for a triple to grant the Big Orange a golden scoring chance. Batting for Kajitani, junior pinch hitter Caitlin Ryan went down swinging for the second retirement. Schutzler ripped a promising liner into deep right, but right fielder LeMaster didn't even have to move from her defensive position as the ball traveled right to her glove to strand UT's seventh runner on the base paths.
Carrying a perfect game into the seventh, Abbott allowed a routine fly ball off the bat of Bachkora that was dropped in right field for an error to grant Arkansas its initial base runner of the contest and shatter the bid for the perfecto. With a no-hitter still possible, LeMaster blooped a ball into right center that dropped in play just beyond the glove of a diving Schutzler to grant UA a pair of base runners with no one retired and break-up the no-no. Kajitani raced from her position at second, all the way out into right center field, to make a stellar over-the-shoulder catch on a pop-up by Cloer for the first retirement. Huckabee flied out to right for the second out, and Abbott K'ed Buckner for her 14th strikeout to secure Tennessee's 33rd victory.
It's a quick turnaround for No. 1 Tennessee as the Lady Vols will contest a doubleheader against Liberty at Tyson Park on Monday evening starting at 5 p.m. ET. Live stats will be available through utladyvols.com on Gametracker, and periodic updates will be provided to the Lady Vol Hotline at 865-974-8700 (box #6). The second match-up will be broadcast live on The Sports Animal (99.1, 99.3 FM, 990 AM, Yahoo Sports through utladyvols.com).