April 2, 2007
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - No. 1 Tennessee's (39-2) unbeaten home stand will wrap up on Tuesday evening at 5 p.m. ET as UT welcomes in-state rival Tennessee Tech (31-12) to Tyson Park for a single match-up. UT will be bidding for the program's fifth consecutive 40-win season and to keep alive a 14-game winning streak, a 77-contest non-conference regular-season victory skein and a 17-game home winning streak.
NCAA Regional rivals in 2006, Tennessee and Tennessee Tech have already met once this season in what turned out to be an historic match-up at the Frost Classic in Chattanooga, Tenn., back on March 3. With a beyond-capacity crowd of 788 watching at Chattanooga's Hargraves Field, including several hundred fans ringing the outfield fence and standing down both lines, senior pitcher Monica Abbott made softball history by picking up her 152nd career victory in UT's 4-0 triumph to break former Southern Miss hurler Courtney Blades' NCAA Division I career win record. The Salinas, Calif, product struck out 18 in the contest. Senior center fielder Lindsay Schutzler led Tennessee's eight-hit offensive attack with a 2-for-3, two RBI performance and a solo homer to lead-off the game. Freshman Alexia Clay knocked in a pair of runs, while fellow rookie Tiffany Huff was 2-of-3 with a run scored. UT leads the all-time series over Tech, 12-0, and maintains a perfect 6-0 mark in Knoxville.
The current leaders of the Ohio Valley Conference at 31-12 overall and 9-2 in league play, Tennessee Tech heads to Tyson Park having won 20 of the 24 contests since its defeat at the hands of the Lady Vols. Junior Beth Boden leads the offensive attack of co-head coaches Tory and Terry Acheson's Golden Eaglettes with a .387 batting average and a staggering 16 home runs and 40 RBI. Junior Stephanie Fischer is contributing at a .333 pace with seven homers and 29 RBI, while senior Krystina Dobbs (.331, four HR's, 28 RBI), senior Bonnie Bynum (.315, five HR's, 35 RBI) and senior Ashley Potts (.301, five HR's, 22 RBI) round out a five-member contingent at the .300 mark or better. Tech has blasted an amazing 53 home runs as a team while outscoring the opposition 248-114 and out hitting them by a .281-.232 clip. Despite just a .248 average, senior Katie Sutherland has recorded seven homers and 24 RBI as nine members of the TTU squad have 11 or more runs-batted-in. Bynum has gotten it done at the plate and as Tech's No. 1 workhorse in the circle. The Fayetteville, Ga., native has registered a 19-8 mark with a 1.74 ERA in 180.2 innings of work with 216 K's. In this season's previous match-up with the Big Orange, Bynum took a 4-0 loss while allowing eight hits and four earned runs with eight strikeouts. Junior Sarah Street has been the next choice for TTU with a 12-3 record, a 2.55 ERA and 58 K's in 96 innings. The Golden Eaglettes' fielding percentage is outstanding at .973 with just 32 errors committed in 43 contests.
The best start in program history continued with a perfect 6-0 week as No. 1 Tennessee swept doubleheaders from Liberty, Western Kentucky and East Tennessee State to improve to a sparkling 39-2 and stretch its winning streak to 14 games. It was a memorable six-game stretch for the Lady Vols as Schutzler, the current Southeastern Conference Player of the Week (4/2), became one of only 10 players in the history of NCAA Division I softball to join the "3-2-1 Club" by registering 300 hits, 200 runs scored and 100 stolen bases in her career. The Monterey, Calif., native now leads UT in all three career categories with 327 hits, 217 runs and 105 steals. Last week, she hit .444 (8-of-18) with three doubles and triple and a team-best nine RBI while going 7-for-7 on steals. Co-Head Coach Ralph Weekly also picked up win number 800 in his illustrious coaching career with Tennessee's 6-0 win over Western Kentucky. Freshman sensation Tiffany Huff returned from her two-week injury lay-off with a vengeance by hitting .667 with five RBI. The Saugus, Calif., product also registered two base knocks in a single inning as she singled and doubled with three RBI as the Big Orange sent 16 hitters to the plate in an 11-run fourth during a 13-3 (5 inn.) win over ETSU. Sophomore outfielder Lillian Hammond made the most of two starts against the Bucs by going a perfect 6-for-6 at the plate (has now hit safely in her last seven at-bats) with four runs scored, two steals and an RBI. Abbott (30-1) delivered another 4-0 week with 56 more K's to pull within 122 of breaking the NCAA Division I mark held by Cat Osterman. Junior hurler Megan Rhodes was also dominant with a 2-0 week, a 0.00 ERA and 19 K's in 12 innings to improve to 9-1.
Live stats will be available through utladyvols.com (Gametracker) for the match-up between the Lady Vols and the Golden Eaglettes, and periodic updates will be provided to the Lady Vol Hotline at 865-974-8700 (box #6).