March 29, 2007
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The challenging nine-game/seven-day stretch for UT will conclude in a rare Friday evening doubleheader at Tyson Park as No. 1 Tennessee (37-2) will serve as host to in-state foe East Tennessee State (16-16) for a pair of contests beginning at 5 p.m. ET. The Lady Vols enter the DH on a 12-game winning streak while looking to extend its current 75-contest winning skein against non-conference regular-season opposition.
The Big Orange hold a perfect 8-0 record against the Bucs having swept a home doubleheader from ETSU in each season since 2003. The Lady Vols rolled to consecutive five-inning wins during last season's DH by 10-2 and 10-0 scores. In the opener, Tennessee banged out 12 hits and three home runs to back pitcher Megan Rhodes' 11th win of the year. First baseman Tonya Callahan got UT off to a good start in game one by blasting a three-run bomb in the bottom of the first inning. Pitcher Monica Abbott helped guide the Lady Vols to the sweep with four innings of two-hit work in the finale with nine K's as Tennessee plated 10 runs on 11 hits with Lindsay Schutzler knocking in a pair of tallies. The Orange & White are 33-1 against current members of the Atlantic Sun Conference.
In her second season at the helm of East Tennessee State, head coach Andrea Mangrum has led her charges to a 16-16 overall mark. As a team the Bucs are hitting .264 but allowing the opposition to post a .295 clip while being outscored 144-131. ETSU has played two games against ranked teams this season with losses at the Wilson Invitational in Tampa, Fla., to then-No. 15 Washington (2-5) and then-No. 24 South Florida (2-10). The program already has faced one Southeastern Conference school this season having suffered a 4-1 road loss to South Carolina back on Feb. 24. Sophomore pitcher/infielder Mary Catherine Vercoe guides the offense average-wise with a .337 mark (31-of-92), while junior Amanda Haverman (.299, team-best 20 RBI) and freshman Katy Jett (.280, team-best 20 RBI) have each provided three of the team's 12 homers. Freshman Darci Gilbert has worked the most on the pitching staff by throwing 101.2 innings from the circle while tallying a 3.37 ERA, a 7-9 record and 46 K's. Vercoe has been the next choice with a 3.52 ERA, an 8-7 mark and 32 strikeouts in 97.1 frames. Despite a .951 fielding percentage and 45 errors, the numerous miscues have led to only 29 of the 141 allowed runs coming by the unearned variety.
It's been a busy week for the top-ranked Lady Vols as a Monday sweep of Liberty was followed by a rainy two-game Wednesday set with Western Kentucky at Tyson Park. UT took both ends of the doubleheader from the Hilltoppers by 6-0 and 2-0 scores with both Abbott and Rhodes earning a triumph as the starting pitcher. Callahan was at her best in the opener against WKU with a 3-for-3 effort and a two-run homer during a five-run, fifth-inning onslaught. The first game victory also marked the 800th coaching win in co-head coach Ralph Weekly's career. Freshman designated player Anita Manuma managed the big blow in the nightcap with a long solo shot to deep center field helping guide the Big Orange to the two-run victory.
Live stats will be available through utladyvols.com (Gametracker) for the doubleheader between the Lady Vols and the Bucs, and periodic updates will be provided to the Lady Vol Hotline at 865-974-8700 (box #6).