June 2, 2005
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. - On the strength of the arm of sophomore pitcher Monica Abbott, the speed and sliding ability of sophomore pinch runner Ashley Cline and the clutch hitting of junior leftfielder Katherine Card, the University of Tennessee softball team earned a 1-0 victory over Arizona in Women's College World Series play on Thursday afternoon. The game was the first in WCWS history for the Lady Vols.
Abbott continued her absolutely dominating run of late, allowing just one hit in the complete-game shutout win. She has now thrown six shutouts in UT's six NCAA Tournament games this season and 32 on the season, which moves the 6-3 lefty in sole possession of second place on the NCAA Division I charts. She only trails Louisianan Tech's Debbie Nichols' 1988 total of 36.
With 12 strikeouts in the contest, she moved her career total to 1,170, the 11th-highest total in Division I history. She has now tossed 43 consecutive scoreless innings and has only allowed one tally in her last 102.1 innings of work (0.07 ERA). In that span, Abbott has given up just 29 hits, a hit ratio of just 1.98.
She now has 578 punch-outs on the season, just four shy of the second-highest mark in Division I history (and school record), set by herself last season. The record of 663 was set in 2000 and recorded by Courtney Blades of Southern Miss.
The co-head coaching duo of Karen and Ralph Weekly earned its 200th win with the victory and are now 200-79-1 as co-head coaches.
The win was the 65th for the Lady Vols, moving the team into a tie for sixth most in Division I annals. Three teams are tied for third with 66 while two teams co-hold the record of 67: the 1998 Arizona Wildcats and the 1999 Illinois-Chicago Flames. As a team, Tennessee extended its Division I record for shutouts with its 49th.
Overall, the Big Orange has won 17-of-19 games and has earned shutouts in 12-of-15 games.
Tennessee's initial foray into the WCWS began at 12:07 p.m. CDT with a low and inside pitch thrown by Arizona's Alicia Hollowell to Tennessee's sophomore shortstop Lindsay Schutzler.
After a pair of strikeouts in the top of the first, junior third baseman Kristi Durant worked out a walk off a 3-2 count, but was stranded there when Hollowell struck out her third batter of the inning.
In the Lady Vol second, junior leftfielder Katherine Card led off the frame and beat out a grounder into the hole between first and second and before the Arizona second baseman could get the ball to first, she had crossed the first base bag. Freshman catcher Shannon Doepking sacrificed her to second, but Card could not get any closer.
The Big Orange threatened again in its half of the third. After Hollowell struck out the first two hitters, junior leftfielder Sarah Fekete beat out a bunt single to third. Durant then hit a high grounder over the leaping first baseman and into right field. Fekete sped to third on the play, but Hollowell struck out the final batter of the inning.
Arizona got its first base runner with two outs in the fifth. Callista Balko singled through the right side and Crystal Farley followed with a grounder to short, but Schutzler threw a laser to first to nail Farley and end the frame.
Tennessee then tallied the game's first and only tally on the scoreboard with two outs and nobody on in the sixth. Freshman first baseman Tonya Callahan worked out a walk. After sophomore pinch runner Ashley Cline replaced Callahan on first, Card laced a ball into right field, about 10 feet from the line. On the play, Arizona's rightfielder threw errantly into the infield, allowing Card to advance to second and Cline, who had rounded third and paused, raced home and slid under the tag to plate the run.
Abbott then retired the last seven Wildcat batters to complete her masterpiece, including Jackie Coburn on a swing and a miss to end the contest.
The Lady Vols now move on to the winner's bracket to face UCLA at 7 p.m. CDT on Friday, broadcast live both on ESPN2 and the Lady Vol Radio Network on 990 AM and 99.1 and 99.3 FM. The winner of that contest moves on to the semifinal round only needing one win to reach the championship series. The loser will play at 8 p.m. on Saturday for a berth in the semifinal round.