June 4, 2005
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. - The University of Tennessee softball team (65-14) fell to two-time defending national champion UCLA (38-18) by a 3-1 count in Friday evening's action at the Women's College World Series. The Lady Vol setback puts the Big Orange in the loser's bracket and into an 8 p.m. CDT Saturday contest against the winner of the Alabama-DePaul to be contested at 1 p.m.
UCLA struck first in the bottom of the initial frame. With one out, Tara Henry hit a sharp grounder into the hole between short and third. Although sophomore shortstop Lindsay Schutzler made a nice play to pick up the short hop, her throw to first was not in time to get the speedy Henry. An ensuing grounder went to the circle and sophomore pitcher Monica Abbott took a look a second, realized she had no play there, and tossed to first for the second out.
Emily Zaplatosch followed with a hard shot just to the right of Abbott's glove and into center field to plate Henry. After Jodie Legaspi beat out an infield hit to third, Abbott got out of the frame just allowing the one run. That tally did however end her scoreless-innings streak at 43.2.
Neither team would score until, with one out in the fourth, freshman first baseman Tonya Callahan blasted a towering, high shot over the tents just beyond the left field fence to tie the contest, 1-1. The shot was Tennessee's first-ever home run in WCWS play.
UCLA threatened in its half of the fourth to take the lead right back. Legaspi was hit by a pitch and moved to second with one out when Krista Colburn hit a Texas Leaguer into right, dropping just beyond the reach of freshman second baseman Kenora Posey. Abbott however got out of the jam with a fly out to left and a grounder to second.
The Bruins did grab the advantage back in the fifth, 2-1. After a one-out walk was issued to Henry and Abbott recorded a strikeout for the second out, her 582nd of the season (tying for second in NCAA Division I history with her own freshman season in 2004), Zaplatosch hit a hard grounder through the legs of junior third baseman Kristi Durant.
Legaspi followed with an RBI single to right to score Henry. Kristen Dedmon threatened to increase UCLA's lead even further with a blast to the right-center gap, but junior centerfielder Sarah Fekete made an impressive running catch to end the inning.
Even down, 3-1, and down to their last at-bat, the Lady Vols would not go quietly.
Callahan led off Tennessee's seventh and blasted a ball foul down the left field line before lacing one to the left-center gap, but she was thrown out at second attempting to stretch it into a double. Junior leftfielder Katherine Card followed by smashing a ball off the pitcher and into right field. After a fly out to center for the second out, junior rightfielder Stacey Jennings laced a single to left, moving Card 60 feet up to second, but the comeback was not to be as freshman pinch hitter Kortney Bell battled through her at-bat before striking out.
Callahan and Jennings led Tennessee's offense with two hits each in the contest, while Abbott tossed a complete game, allowing just one earned run. She has now allowed a pair of earned runs (four total) in her last 108.1 innings of action in the circle (0.13 ERA).
The Lady Vols now move on to play the winner of tomorrow's Alabama-DePaul game. The Crimson Tide and Blue Demons play at 1 p.m. CDT and the winner of that game will take on Tennessee at 8 p.m. The winner of that evening contest will move on to play the victor of tonight's Michigan-Texas game, needing to win twice on Sunday to advance to the championship series.