March 30, 2005
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- The fourth-ranked Tennessee Lady Vol softball team improved its record to 39-5 overall and 9-2 in Southeastern Conference play by taking a 3-1 victory over the Kentucky Wildcats (15-27, 2-13 SEC) in the rubber-match of a three-game set on Wed., Mar. 30, at Tyson Park.
Sophomore left fielder India Chiles led UT at the plate with a 2-for-3 effort while racing home with two of the Orange & White's three runs. Junior third baseman Kristi Durant delivered a clutch RBI double in the third and junior center fielder Katherine Card added an important insurance tally in the sixth for the Big Orange with an RBI two-bagger to right.
"Kentucky again played very well today," said Lady Vol Co-Head Coach Ralph Weekly. "We've got a lot of injuries right now that are hampering our team. They (UK) seemed to hit the ball to the positions where we were the weakest as a result for most of the day. We are proud of our kids and in how they continue to fight through adversity to pick up wins. It was good to have Katherine Card back in the line-up the last two days after she was forced to sit out for a week and a half with an injury. Her hit in the sixth provided us a margin that we dearly needed. India Chiles played an outstanding game and contributed an important two hits and two runs from the second spot in the line-up.
Despite both teams leaving runners on base in the first two innings, the first serious scoring threat of the contest came for Tennessee in the bottom half of the third. After a groundout to shortstop by junior rightfielder Stacey Jennings, sophomore second baseman Ashley Cline drilled a double into the gap in right center to give UT a runner in scoring position. After a ground ball to short retired sophomore Lindsay Schutzler for the second out of the frame, the Wildcats gave the Lady Vols new life when a throwing error by UK's hurler Samantha Allen on an India Chiles grounder back to the mound allowed her to reach first safely. On the play, Cline raced around third and slid into home to get the Orange & White on the board with an unearned run, 1-0. Durant stepped to the plate and continued to punish the Wildcats for their two-out mistake by lacing an RBI double off the wall in right field to score Chiles unearned and push Tennessee out front by a 2-0 score.
Kentucky did manage some success against Tennessee's All-American hurler Abbott by reaching the 6-3 lefty for a season-high eight hits. UK even managed to scratch out a run in the top of the fifth on a pair of hits as a base knock by Wildcat left fielder Lori Melchi and a double into center by right fielder Alli Eckman drew the Blue & White within a run at 2-1.
However, Tennessee managed to pick up some much needed insurance in the sixth as Chiles ignited a rally with a leadoff double over a drawn in Eckman in right. After consecutive fly outs by Durant and freshman first baseman Tonya Callahan, Card stepped to the dish and delivered her seventh double of the season to score Chiles with UT's important third run.
The `Cats managed a spirited rally in the top of the seventh as a single down the left field line and a UT throwing error placed Kentucky runners at first and second with one down. Abbott's sixth strikeout of the contest set up a thrilling two-out match up between Tennessee's star pitcher and last night's eighth-inning home run heroine for Kentucky, Brooke Marnitz. With the go-ahead run at the plate, Abbott induced a harmless groundout to second to enact some revenge and end the game. With the triumph, UT nabbed its fifth-straight SEC series victory dating back to the 2004 campaign.
The No. 4 Lady Vols will continue league play with a three-game set this
weekend against the Arkansas Lady'Backs (over April 2-3) with a Saturday
doubleheader (1 p.m.) and a Sunday series finale (1 p.m.) scheduled for
Tennessee Field at Tyson Park. Check into utladyvols.com for live stats of
all home contests or call the Lady Vol Hotline at 865-974-8700 (#6) for
voicemail updates during games.