Feb. 15, 2007
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Newly ascendant to the top position in the country for the first time in program history, the now No. 1 Tennessee Lady Vol softball team (4-0) ventures to the Louisville Slugger Desert Classic in Las Vegas, Nev., for the third consecutive campaign (Feb. 16-18) to open the initial stage of a marathon 11-day road trip throughout the West Coast area.
UT will open the event against Florida International on Friday, Feb. 16, at 9 a.m. PT before meeting Sacramento State and Illinois on Saturday and closing its stay versus Cal State Northridge and UC Davis on Sunday.
After the visit to Las Vegas, the Big Orange will move on the Fullerton, Calif., to face home-standing Cal State Fullerton in a single mid-week match-up on Wed. before heading to the prestigious Palm Springs Classic in Cathedral City, Calif., for five contests over Feb. 23-25.
Last season, Tennessee rolled through the Louisville Slugger Desert Classic with a 5-0 mark by picking up wins over No. 18 Oregon, Cal Poly, Purdue, Kansas and Hawaii. The Orange & White outscored its opposition by a 49-5 count with three run-rule contests. Then-junior shortstop Lindsay Schutzler hit a remarkable .733 (11-of-15) with a double, a triple, six RBI and nine runs scored to become the first player in Lady Vol history to sweep both the USA Softball and National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) National Player of the Week awards in the same evaluation period.
This past week has been an historic one for the Lady Vol program as UT won the Carolina Classic in dominant fashion and achieved the No. 1 ranking for the first time in program history. By gaining the nation's top spot, Tennessee also became the first program in Southeastern Conference history to climb to No. 1. Senior pitcher Monica Abbott was tabbed as the SEC's Pitcher of the Week for the 13th time in her career after a 3-0 weekend with a 0.00 ERA and 44 K's in 17 innings. The Salinas, Calif., product proved her dominance by striking out the side in 11 of the 17 frames she worked from the circle. Sophomore Jennifer Griffin was a nominee for league and national player of the week, along with Abbott, after hitting a staggering .900 (9-of-10) with two home runs and seven RBI during UT's dominant title run through the Carolina Classic in Chapel Hill, N.C. The opening 8-0 (five inn.) triumph over Coastal Carolina in the event marked the 500th win in program history.
Tennessee opens the Louisville Slugger Desert Classic against Florida International at 9 a.m. PT on Friday. Live stats will be available via Gametracker and periodic updates will be posted on the Lady Vol Hotline at 865-974-8700 (box #6) during live game action.