April 5, 2005

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COOKEVILLE, Tenn. - Freshman Megan Rhodes (10-3) struck out nine in five strong innings of work to pick up her 10th collegiate victory, rookie designated player Natalie Brock delivered the first home run of her career and sophomore pitcher Monica Abbott picked up her second save of 2005 as the No. 4 Tennessee softball team improved its overall record to 43-5 with a 3-0 victory over in-state foe Tennessee Tech to sweep a doubleheader. The Lady Vols are now 9-0 all-time against TTU.

Abbott hurled her third collegiate perfect game in the opener at the Tech Softball Complex in Cookeville, Tenn., by striking out 18 of the 21 batters she faced in UT's 1-0 triumph.

"These in-state rivalries are always tough," said Lady Vol Co-Head Coach Ralph Weekly. "Teams always get up to play Tennessee. Tech played outstanding defense in both games, and we had to scratch out runs the hard way. Monica (Abbott) and Megan (Rhodes) both pitched extremely well for us, and Lindsay (Schutzler) played fantastic. Natalie Brock continued to hit the ball well and was rewarded with the first home run of her career. We are having a lot of opportunities to play a lot of players lately with all of our injuries. We don't know the extent of Schutzler's injury yet (spiked in the face in first inning). That will be up to the medical staff to determine. We obviously missed her presence at the top of the line up in game two. However, Lindsay told us she'll be ready to play very quickly. We really missed Sarah Fekete and Shannon Doepking in both games.

After waiting until the seventh inning of game one to scratch out the game-winning run in a 1-0 victory, the Lady Vols jumped out to an early lead in the second contest with TTU by plating a tally in the top of the first. Schutzler opened the contest with a leadoff double inside the third base bag that rolled down the left field line to give UT an immediate scoring threat. Junior leftfielder Katherine Card granted Tennessee a 1-0 advantage with a single into left center for her 31st RBI of the campaign.

Misfortune in the way of injury struck the Lady Vols once again in the bottom of the first inning as UT's Schutzler was lost for the game after being spiked in the face while applying the tag on TTU shortstop Beth Boden's failed steal attempt at second. The conference's fourth-leading hitter coming into today at .421, Schutzler joins a growing injury list for the Orange & White as junior Sarah Fekete (broken jaw) and freshman catcher Shannon Doepking (concussion) each sat out today's doubleheader.

In picking up her 10th victory of the campaign, Rhodes did not allow a single Tennessee Tech baserunner to advance past second base in her five innings of work. The Nashville, Tenn., native also struck out the side in the third as part of her nine-K effort.

Tennessee threatened to add to its lead in the middle innings as Durant led off the fourth with a hard base hit back to the pitcher that bounced off TTU hurler Sarah Street's glove and into the hole between first and second. After freshman LaDonna Oliver was summoned from the dugout to pinch run for the UT third baseman, freshman first baseman Tonya Callahan reached safely on a fielder's choice after sacrificing the runner to second with a successful bunt. However, a fly out to left by Brock and a liner to second by sophomore catcher Brittany Bessho that ended up starting a double play that cut down Callahan in a force at first ended the scoring threat.

Sophomore second baseman Ashley Cline opened the fifth inning with a single to center and was advanced to second on a groundout by junior center fielder Stacey Jennings. After sophomore rightfielder India Chiles sacrificed the runner to third for the second out of the frame, rookie shortstop Kenora Posey laced a hard liner to her Tech counterpart at short to end the inning.

Clinging to another 1-0 lead, UT's All-American hurler Monica Abbott was called in from the bullpen in a save situation and struck out all three Tennessee Tech hitters she faced in the bottom half of the sixth. With the Lady Vol pitching staff in complete control, the Big Orange finally got the bats working in the top of the seventh for the second-consecutive contest.

Needing some insurance on the victory, Brock came through by delivering her initial collegiate home run to deep center field from the leadoff spot for a 2-0 Tennessee advantage. After a Bessho single to right, UT added one final run when pinch runner Kortney Bell raced around from second to score the Lady Vols' third tally on a hard Jennings RBI base hit up the middle.

The Golden Eagles (17-23) were retired one-two-three by the 6-3 lefthander in the last of the seventh for her second save of 2005 as the Lady Vols picked up their 33rd shutout of the campaign.

The No. 4 Lady Vols will travel to Auburn, Ala., this weekend for a crucial three-game league series against the Auburn Tigers over April 9-10. Check into utladyvols.com for postgame recaps and call the Lady Vol Hotline at 865-974-8700 (#6) for voicemail updates during live action.





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