May 8, 2005
BATON ROUGE, La. - The 10th-ranked University of Tennessee softball team earned its 56th win of the season with a 2-0 (9 inn.) victory over the Tigers to set a new school record after UT went 55-16 last season. With the win in the concluding game of the regular season, the Big Orange finished 20-8 in SEC play, tying the school standard for conference wins (UT went 20-8 last season and 20-7 in 1997). Overall UT is 56-11, while LSU fell to 30-21, 12-18 in SEC action.
"Our kids played really hard today," Co-Head Coach Ralph Weekly said. "We're toughest in the late innings. Monica Abbott was superb today as was (LSU pitcher) Emily Turner. It was a classic fastpitch game and we're extremely proud of our kids.
Tennessee shut out LSU for the third time this weekend with the win, marking the first time that LSU has been held scoreless for three consecutive games in its history. When UT swept LSU in a doubleheader on Saturday, 1-0 (9 inn.) and 3-0, it marked the first time the Tigers had been shut out in both games of a doubleheader since falling 3-0 and 8-0 to South Carolina on April 13, 1997.
LSU had only been swept in a home SEC series two times before this weekend, to Alabama earlier this season in a three-game set and to South Carolina in that two-game series in 1997.
Tennessee has now won eight consecutive games and six straight in SEC play. The overall winning streak was last reached when the Big Orange won nine straight from March 15-29, while UT last won as many straight conference games from March 20-April 3, 2004 with a seven-game streak at that point.
After sweeping Ole Miss on the road last weekend, Tennessee has now recorded
back-to-back road SEC sweeps for the first time since doing the same to
Georgia (four games), Auburn and Alabama (two each) in the school's first
eight SEC road games in school history.
Like game one on Saturday in UT's 1-0 (9 inn.) win, the Lady Vols broke through in the ninth inning. This time, UT tallied twice. Sophomore shortstop Lindsay Schutzler beat out an infield hit, stole second on a bang-bang play at second for her SEC-leading 32nd theft of the season and scored when junior centerfielder Sarah Fekete drove her in with a single to center. After a pop-up, junior leftfielder Katherine Card advanced to first on an infield hit of her own, moving Fekete to third. After freshman first baseman Tonya Callahan was hit by a pitch to load the bases, freshman catcher Shannon Doepking drove in Fekete with an infield ground out.
In the bottom of the ninth, Abbott retired the side in order in earning her second nine-inning shutout of the weekend and 24th on the season, tying her own school record set last year as a freshman.
The first base runner of the contest was LSU designated player Lauren Castle, who reached on a well-placed grounder up the middle with two outs in the bottom of the third. The ball went just off sprinting Schutzler's glove. Camille Harris was then hit by Abbott's first offering to her, but the sophomore hurler sat down Leslie Klein.
In the Lady Vol half of the fifth, Callahan worked out a walk with one out and her pinch runner, freshman LaDonna Oliver, was sacrificed to second by Doepking but stranded there.
The fourth base runner of the contest was freshman second baseman Kenora Posey. She slapped a hard shot off Tiger third baseman Lauren Delahoussaye to lead off the Lady Vol sixth.
In the bottom of the seventh, Tiger third baseman Lauren Delahoussaye worked out a rare Abbott walk with two outs but was stranded there by Abbott.
Posey then tallied the Lady Vols' and her second hit of the ball game with a slap liner to left center with two outs in the top of the eighth, but was stranded there.
The Lady Vols will be the No. 4 overall seed at the SEC Tournament and will face fifth-seeded Florida in their opening game. The tourney will be contested on the Gators' home field and will have a double-elimination format.