May 15, 2005
GAINESVILLE, Fla. - The 11th-ranked and fourth-seeded University of Tennessee softball team (59-13) saw its run in the Southeastern Conference Tournament come to an end on Sunday morning with a 3-0 loss to second-seeded and No. 9 Alabama. The Lady Vols went 3-2 in the tournament for its most wins in any one SEC Tournament and now look forward to the NCAA Selection Show, broadcast live on ESPNews at 7:30 p.m.
Alabama pitcher Stephanie VanBrakle led the Crimson Tide to its victory by throwing a complete-game one-hit shutout and hit a three-run homer in the seventh.
"We played hard, but we just didn't generate any offense today," Co-Head Coach Ralph Weekly said. "VanBrakle threw one of the better games I've ever seen her throw and deserved to get the win."
Early on, a pair of Lady Vol pitchers escaped a number of jams. Freshman Megan Rhodes would throw the first two along with the last two innings while sophomore Monica Abbott tossed the three middle innings.
In the UA first, Lady Vol second baseman Kenora Posey ran back to steal away a bloop single from Jordan Praytor and the Crimson Tide went hitless in the frame. In the second, two players reached (Dominique Accetturo on a walk and Dani Woods on a single) but Rhodes escaped the jam unscathed.
Leading off the Alabama fourth, Accetturo blooped a single just out of the reach of a sprinting Lindsay Schutzler. A subsequent single by Staci Ramsey put runners on first and second with nobody out, but Abbott induced the next three batters to record outs. In the Crimson Tide fifth, Abbott escaped a bases loaded situation with two outs.
Tennessee had its most serious threat in the bottom of the fifth, putting runners on second and third with nobody out. Junior third baseman Kristi Durant reached on a line drive which Accetturo made a nice diving snag of but did not have time to throw her out. Freshman first baseman Tonya Callahan laid down a bunt which was bobbled by Ramsey, Alabama's third baseman, which allowed Callahan to reach as well with nobody out. After a wild pitch put runners on second and third with nobody out, VanBrakle retired the next three Lady Vols on an infield out and two strikeouts.
The scoreless dual ended in the top of the seventh. After Jackie Wilkins fouled out to Durant, Praytor reached on a dropped pop-up by junior leftfielder Katherine Card. Ashley Courtney singled up the middle and moved Praytor to third. On the first pitch to VanBrakle, she launched the ball over the left field fence to give Alabama a 3-0 lead.
In the bottom of the seventh, the first Lady Vol hitter, Schutzler, reached on an error by Leah White but the Lady Vols could not get another base runner on base the rest of the inning.
Alabama moves on to the title game against Georgia at 2 p.m., while the Lady Vols will now look ahead to the NCAA Selection Show at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, broadcast live by ESPNews. Tennessee has put in a bid to host one of the 16 four-team regionals.