April 16, 2005
GAINESVILLE, Fla. - The sixth-ranked University of Tennessee softball team fell in the second game of a Southeastern Conference doubleheader to No. 15 Florida, 1-0 in eight innings, on Saturday afternoon. The Lady Vols (44-9, 12-6 SEC) lost to the Gators (34-11, 13-4 SEC) in the first contest by a 2-1 score. Sophomore pitcher Monica Abbott (31-5) tossed seven innings of shutout ball before allowing an unearned run in the eighth. Junior centerfielder Stacey Jennings contributed two hits in the contest.
"We are in the midst of the worst offensive slump I've experienced in a lot of years as a coach," Co-Head Coach Ralph Weekly said. "Our kids are all trying real hard but quite frankly we're not getting the hits with runners in scoring position.
"In game one, we left eight runners in scoring position. In game two, the critical inning was the sixth when we had the bases loaded and could not score. RBI are the most important offensive stat and we will get better. Times like these tend to be cyclical and we'll come out of it."
Neither team was able to get a rally going until both squads had two runners reach in their respective halves of the fourth. With one out in the Lady Vol half, freshman first baseman Tonya Callahan singled to left and freshman catcher Shannon Doepking was hit by a pitch. In the bottom half, two two-out walks were issued to Gators in their half of the fourth, but Lady Vol junior third baseman Kristi Durant snared a liner to end the threat.
In the Lady Vol sixth, Durant was hit by the pitch to lead off the frame and, with two outs, junior centerfielder Stacey Jennings lined a single to left and sophomore second baseman Ashley Cline walked to load the bases. On the first pitch to freshman designated player Natalie Brock, the ball bounded away from the Gator catcher Kristen Butler and Durant raced to the plate but was tagged out by Butler to end the inning.
Butler then led off the ensuing half inning with a liner up the middle for a single. With one out and following a steal of second by pinch runner Stacie Pestrak, first baseman Melissa Zick worked out a walk after nine pitches from Abbott. The sophomore hurler then induced an infield pop-up and strikeout and the teams headed to the seventh, 0-0.
Florida nearly tallied the winning run in its half of the final regularly-scheduled frame. Leftfielder Michelle Diaz and shortstop Lauren Roussell each singled with one out, Diaz advancing to third on Roussell's hit. After a stolen base, Abbott struck out the next batter, intentionally walked a Gator to load the bases and induced a pop-up to right and the two nationally-ranked teams headed to extra innings.
The Gators tallied the winning run in the eighth. Zick led off with a bloop single to left center and then scored on a failed pick-off throw by the catcher which then went by the right fielder.
The Lady Vols and Gators wrap up their three-game set with a single contest on Sunday. First pitch is slated for 1 p.m.