March 25, 2007
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The nine-game in seven-day stretch continues for No. 1 Tennessee (33-2, 11-2 SEC) on Monday evening as the Lady Vols welcome in Liberty (15-12) for a doubleheader at Tyson Park. The Lady Vols will be looking to extend a 71-game non-conference, regular-season winning streak dating back to March 4, 2005, against Providence.
The Big Orange enter the two-game set versus Liberty with a 9-0 series advantage on the Flames after sweeping a doubleheader at Tyson Park during the 2006 season by 8-0 (6 inn.) and 9-1 (5 inn.) scores. Monica Abbott and Megan Rhodes each picked up a win in the circle for UT, while Tonya Callahan hit .600 (3-of-5) with a home run and three RBI. Lindsay Schutzler hit at a .571 clip (4-of-7) with four runs scored, a triple, three stolen bases and two RBI. India Chiles also registered a .400 mark with an RBI.
"Liberty returns all nine starters from last year," Lady Vol co-head coach Ralph Weekly said. "In the past two weeks the Flames have beaten some of the very best in #23 Hawaii, #10 Baylor and #6 Michigan. They will be experienced as well as tough and will serve as a very good test for our team."
Entering Saturday's action against Northwestern, Liberty was hitting .284 as a team while outscoring the opposition 118-99. Senior second baseman Dawn Jeffs was leading the team at a sparkling .426 (40-of-94) with 21 runs scored, five home runs and 18 RBI. Senior Jessica Moore was contributing at a .389 pace with a team-best eight home runs and 22 RBI. Juniors Shannon McKain (.375) and Ashley Williams (.303) were among the four Liberty players at .300 or better venturing into the contest against the Wildcats. The pitching staff had allowed the opposition to hit at a .278 clip with a 2.87 ERA and just 117 strikeouts. Sophomore Sarah Ellis had been the workhorse with a 2.61 ERA and a 6-4 record with 46 strikeouts in 88.2 innings of work. Senior right hander Terra Lowe had been responsible for a 5-3 mark with a 3.10 ERA and 42 K's in 40.2 frames, while senior Sarah Swor had posted a 3.31 ERA and a 3-3 record in 36 innings. The defense had dealt the pitching staff just 29 errors to deal with in 26 contests for a .964 fielding percentage.
The Lady Vols posted a successful weekend in stretching their winning streak to eight games by sweeping a three-game series from Southeastern Conference Western Division foe Arkansas at Tyson Park with three consecutive shutouts. UT's pitching staff of Abbott and Rhodes hasn't allowed a run to score over 42 straight innings with five consecutive shutouts dating back to a solo home run by MSU to lead off a 5-1 triumph over Mississippi State on March 18. Senior left fielder India Chiles led the offensive attack against the Lady'Backs at a .700 clip (7-of-10) with a triple and an RBI despite suffering from a left shoulder injury that has limited her contributions. Junior catcher Shannon Doepking stepped up in the face of injury versus UA to help guide the offense at .429, while senior center fielder Lindsay Schutzler hit .400 with an inside-the-park home run and four RBI. During the weekend, Abbott was a perfect 3-0 with two complete game shutouts and 34 strikeouts in 16 innings to up her season record to 26-1. She is now just 178 K's from eclipsing former Texas hurler Cat Osterman for the prestigious NCAA Division I career strikeout record.
Live stats will be available through utladyvols.com (Gametracker) for the doubleheader between the Lady Vols and Flames, and periodic updates will be provided to the Lady Vol Hotline at 865-974-8700 (box #6). The second game of the doubleheader will be broadcast live on The Sports Animal (99.1, 99.3 FM, 990 AM, Yahoo Sports through utladyvols.com) with Jeff Jacoby on the call at approximately 7 p.m. ET.