May 22, 2005
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The Lady Vol softball team (62-13) is advancing to the Super Regionals following a 2-0 victory over the College of Charleston Cougars (53-18) on Sunday afternoon, its third shutout in three contests at the NCAA Regionals. Sophomore pitcher Monica Abbott tossed her sixth no-hitter this season and 10th of her career and sophomore shortstop Lindsay Schutzler blasted a clutch two-out two-run blast over the center field fence off a 3-2 count in the fifth to claim the regional championship for Tennessee.
Tennessee will face Stanford in a three-game series to be contested next weekend at a campus site to be determined later tonight. The squads will play a single contest on Friday and finish the series on Saturday. The victor of that set moves on to the Women's College World Series to be contested from June 2-8 in Oklahoma City, Okla.
The win gave UT 62 on the season, becoming the 13th team in NCAA Division I history to reach that many victories. The shutout was the 46th on the season, just one shy of the record currently held by the 1990 UCLA Bruins. UT has shut out its opponent nine times in its last 12 games.
Abbott earned her 29th blanking of the season, moving her into sole possession of third place in the record books. She trails only Sarah Dawson of UL-Monroe (31 in 1997) and Debbie Nichols of Louisiana Tech (36 in 1988). The 6-3 sophomore has now allowed just one run and 25 hits in her last 81.1 innings (a 0.09 ERA and 2.15 hit ratio), including 22 consecutive scoreless frames.
After breaking the school record for hits yesterday (Lisa Warren had set the orginal record of 98 in 1999), Schutzler contributed two more today in a 2-for-3 outing to move above the 100 mark to 101, just four shy of the SEC record of 105 currently held by Georgia's Nicole Barber, who set the mark in 2002.
The Lady Vols have now advanced the farthest it has ever gone in NCAA Tournament play, becoming one of 16 teams still competing for a national title. The Big Orange went 0-2 in 1999 and 2-2 last season. Overall, the Orange and White have claimed wins in 14-of-16 contests.
The first UT threat came in the bottom of the second. Freshman first baseman Tonya Callahan recorded the first of her two hits on the day with a one-bagger down the left-field line. After freshman catcher Shannon Doepking moved her up 60 feet with a bunt and junior leftfielder Katherine Card earned a walk, the pair of runners advanced to second on a wild pitch. With the count now at 1-1 to sophomore designated player India Chiles, freshman Natalie Brock was called on to pinch hit. She ran the count to 3-2 before grounding out to the circle.
With one out in the third, Schutzler up the middle and stole second. After advancing to third on a well-placed ground out to second executed by junior centerfielder Sarah Fekete, she was stranded 60 feet from pay dirt.
After the first Cougar was retired in the fifth, leftfielder Shondra Schlichenmayer became the lone College of Charleston player to reach base on the afternoon with a walk. With two outs, she attempted to steal second, but was nailed by Doepking with Schutzler applying the tag.
With one out in the bottom of the frame, Chiles reached base with one out after hitting the ball right in the front of the plate and beating it out. She moved to second with two outs when freshman second baseman Kenora Posey grounded out to the first baseman, second baseman covering first. That set the stage for Schutzler's dramatics. After working the count to 3-2, she powered her first home run since April 9 sailing over the center field fence.
Tennessee threatened to add on to its lead in the sixth. Junior third baseman Kristi Durant led off with a walk and Callahan doubled off the left-center fence, moving freshman pinch runner LaDonna Oliver to third, but both runners would be stranded.
Abbott made it a moot point however by retiring the side in order in the seventh. The first hitter, Leshe Russell, hit a liner to junior rightfielder Stacey Jennings. Bridget Loudermilk followed by bunting the ball up in the air and over the head of Callahan. Fortunately for the Lady Vols, Posey raced over and caught the ball and she plopped onto the ground, sitting as the ball nestled into her glove. The Lady Vols earned the regional championship when Melissa Weigel hit a grounder to Posey, who tossed to Callahan to end the contest.
The Lady Vols next take on Stanford in a three-game series to be contested from May 27-28. The series will be contested in either Knoxville, Tenn., or Palo Alto, Calif. The home site will be announced later tonight.