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HARD-FOUGHT 2-1 DECISION GIVES NO. 4 UT A DOUBLEHEADER SWEEP OF ARKANSAS
Monica Abbott

Monica Abbott

April 3, 2005

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Despite leaving six baserunners stranded, the No. 4 Tennessee Lady Vol softball team (41-5, 11-2 SEC) managed to plate two early runs and make them hold up in downing the Arkansas Lady'Backs (13-28, 0-14 SEC), 2-1, to sweep both ends of a Southeastern Conference doubleheader on Sunday afternoon at Tyson Park.

Sophomore pitcher Monica Abbott picked up her 29th victory of the campaign by hurling a complete game, six-hitter while striking out eight. The Salinas, Calif., now has 922 career K's and boasts an overall record of 74-12 in less than two full collegiate seasons. Junior third baseman Kristi Durant knocked in both Lady Vol runs to improve her SEC-leading total to 60 RBI for the year while freshman first baseman Tonya Callahan recorded a 2-for-3 effort at the plate.

"I thought Arkansas was a much improved team in this series especially on offense," said Lady Vol Co-Head Coach Ralph Weekly. "I thought that they played with great intensity, and that this was a great series. We didn't bring our best game today in any facet and have to learn to be more energetic to win day-in and day-out in this league. I thought Lindsay Schutzler played exceptionally well at shortstop. Her home run in the first game was the key and her play deep in the hole at short to cut down the Arkansas hitter in the second game was tremendous. India Chiles continues to play very well for us and has done a solid job in the number two spot in the line up.

Arkansas threatened to get on the board in the top of the first when UA's leading hitter Rachel LeMaster singled to third base to lead off the inning. After a successful sacrifice bunt by center fielder Mindy O'Malley advanced the runner into scoring position with one down, Abbott induced a foul out by second baseman Kallie Foglesong to UT catcher Shannon Doepking and then caused first baseman Ashley Carter to pop out to sophomore Ashley Cline at second to end the threat.

Tennessee took advantage of the Lady'Backs failure to jump out in front by doing just that in the bottom half of the first by plating a run for a 1-0 lead. Sophomore shortstop Lindsay Schutzler led off with a walk and promptly swiped her 26th base of the season to advance into scoring position. After a sacrifice bunt by sophomore right fielder India Chiles moved Schutzler to third, Durant cashed in the runner with an RBI groundout down the first base line.

Arkansas attempted a scoring rally of its own in the top of the second as a one-out double down the right field line by UA shortstop Dayna Huckabee gave UA a prime chance to break onto the scoreboard. It looked as if Lady'Back third baseman Barbara-Jean Southmayd's single to center would allow UA to tie the contest, but Tennessee junior Stacey Jennings delivered a strong throw home to Doepking to cut down Huckabee at the plate and preserve UT's 1-0 lead.

The Cardinal & White finally got to Abbott in the top of the third as LeMaster once again reached on a single and advanced to second on a groundout. With two down, Foglesong laced a base hit to left center to plate her teammate and knot the score at 1-1. For UT's All-American hurler, the run was only her eighth allowed in 198.2 innings of work in 2005.

However, Tennessee answered back immediately in the bottom half of the third by manufacturing a two-out run to take a 2-1 lead. Chiles again ignited the attack with a bunt single and a stolen base. On the steal attempt, UA catcher Shana Easley air-mailed her throw to second into right center field to allow Chiles to race to third. Durant promptly ripped an RBI double into center to plate Chiles and give UT a lead it wouldn't relinquish.

For a moment it appeared that Arkansas might knot the score to lead off the seventh inning as Easley singled to right center and her pinch runner, Heather Rankin, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. However, Abbott struck out Southmayd and induced a groundout to shortstop by designated hitter Samantha Buckner to end the contest and give UT its 41st victory of the campaign. No. 4 Tennessee will return to the road this Tuesday, April 5, with a trip down I-40 to Cookeville, Tenn., to match up in a scheduled doubleheader against in-state foe Tennessee Tech at 5 p.m. ET. Check into utladyvols.com for postgame recaps and call the Lady Vol Hotline at 865-974-8700 (#6) for voicemail updates during live game action.

 

 

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