April 10, 2005
AUBURN, Ala. - A Tennessee lineup missing three starters in junior centerfielder Sarah Fekete, freshman catcher Shannon Doepking and sophomore second baseman Ashley Cline could not muster enough offense to overcome a hot-hitting Auburn team, falling to the 22nd-ranked Tigers in the final game of the series on Sunday afternoon, 6-1. On Saturday, the Lady Vols (44-7, 12-4 Southeastern Conference) had claimed the first game of the series, 5-0, before falling to Auburn (38-11, 12-5 SEC) in the middle contest, 3-1.
"Auburn hit the ball extremely well and deserved the win," Co-Head Coach Ralph Weekly said. "We left runners in scoring position that could have made the game a little closer. The close call at third base in the third was a heartbreaker. That was a great play by (third baseman) Kristina McCain. As far as our offense, that was a turning point.
"Monica Abbott is a great pitcher who came into this game 31-2. She was fresh and ready. She just had a bad day against good hitters. She will be ready her next outing and so will our team.
The Lady Vols struck first in the initial frame. Freshman second baseman
Kenora Posey, making the first start of her career, walked with one out and
freshman first baseman Tonya Callahan reached with two outs after being hit.
Junior leftfielder Katherine Card secured a spot on first base on an error by
the second baseman, while Posey gave UT a 1-0 lead by scoring on the play.
Auburn came back to tie the contest, 1-1, in the second when first baseman Anne Norton slammed a one-out home run to center.
Tennessee threatened in the third with leadoff singles by sophomore rightfielder India Chiles and sophomore shortstop Lindsay Schutzler. Posey laid down a bunt that McCain fired to shortstop Ashley Griffin to retire the lead runner. Auburn pitcher Beth DiPietro was able to get the next two Lady Vols out to end the Big Orange threat.
In the bottom of the third, Griffin followed a hit batter and a single with a long ball, which just curled around the left field foul pole for a three-run shot and a 4-1 Auburn lead. The Tigers hit back-to-back homers when designated player Holly Currie followed with a solo shot to left.
Auburn took a 6-1 lead with its fourth homer of the game, tying a school record, when rightfielder Sara Ghezzi left off the fourth inning with a homer to left.
At that point, freshman pitcher Megan Rhodes came on in relief and proceeded to strike out the next three hitters and retire all nine batters she faced (five on strikeouts), the first time in her career that she has had an outing where no opposing player reached base. The appearance was her 20th of the season.
The Big Orange was not able to get any closer, however. A pair of singles by junior third baseman Kristi Durant and Callahan led off the sixth, but a strikeout and line-drive double play ended UT's final threat of the contest.
Tennessee next travels to Bristol, Tenn., to take on Virginia Tech on Wednesday as part of the State-Line Classic. The contest begins at 6 p.m. UT's next foray into SEC play occurs next weekend as the Lady Vols head to Gainesville, Fla., to face the Gators in a three-game set.