May 21, 2005

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Knoxville Regional
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The University of Tennessee softball team (61-13) earned its 45th shutout of the season, just two shy of the NCAA Division I record held by the 1997 UCLA squad, and topped College of Charleston (52-17), 4-0, on Saturday afternoon. The win moved the Big Orange into the NCAA Regional final to be contested on Sunday, its farthest advancement into the tournament in school history.

Sophomore pitcher Monica Abbott tossed her 28th blanking of the year, tied for the third-highest total by an individual (Debbie Nichols of Louisiana Tech holds the record of 36, set in 1988), while junior designated player Katherine Card drove in three of the four Lady Vol runs. Sophomore shortstop Lindsay Schutzler earned three of UT's nine hits, led off a pair of innings with hits and stolen bases and scored in both those frames.

With the victory in winner's bracket play at the NCAA Regional, Tennessee advances to the championship round and will play a team to be determined at 1 p.m. on Sunday, needing only one win in a potential two games to move on to the Super Regionals.

The win coupled with a 9-0 (5 inn.) victory over Miami University on Friday night gave Tennessee its first two-game NCAA Tournament winning streak in school history. The Big Orange had gone 0-2 in 1999 and 2-2 in 2004 (win, loss, win, loss). Overall this season, the Lady Vols have claimed wins in 12-of-their-last-14 games and have earned shutouts in nine of those games.

The Lady Vols struck in the first for a single tally. Schutzler, UT's leadoff hitter, beat out an infield hit, stole second and advanced to third on an infield ground out by junior centerfielder Sarah Fekete. After junior third baseman Kristi Durant walked, freshman first baseman Tonya Callahan was hit by a pitch and a pop-up was induced, Card singled up the middle to plate Fekete. On the play, Durant was thrown out at the plate by Cougar centerfielder Darcy Johnson.

College of Charleston threatened in the bottom of the third. Kolby Schooley led off with a walk and advanced to second on a ground out. With two gone, Bridget Loudermilk beat out an infield bunt single and Schooley moved to third, but Abbott induced a pop-out to short on the first pitch thrown to Jayme Durand to escape unscathed.

In the Tennessee fifth, the Lady Vols tacked on three more to its lead. Schutzler led off with a bunt single. After she stole second, Durant blooped a single to right to move Schutzler to third with one out. Callahan knocked the ball into center for a single to move freshman pinch runner Kortney Bell to second and plate Schutzler. With two outs, Card delivered a clutch blast high off the center field fence and, as she cruised into second, Bell and Callahan scored to give UT a 4-0 advantage.

The rest of the game proceeded quietly as neither team would get more than one runner on base the final 2-1/2 innings.

The Lady Vols now move on to the championship round and will take on a team to be determined at 1 p.m. on Sunday. Virginia Tech (43-24) is playing Miami University (34-25) at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday and the winner takes on College of Charleston at 6 p.m. The victor in that contest takes on UT tomorrow. A win for Tennessee would move UT to the Super Regionals, while a victory by the 6 p.m. winner would force a winner-take-all game at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday.





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