Monica Abbott and Shannon Doepking
May 5, 2007
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Due to a staggering amount of standing water in the outfield and on the tarp following heavy rains in the Knoxville, Tenn., area for the majority of Saturday, unplayable field conditions have forced the cancellation of the scheduled 6 p.m. contest between No. 2 Tennessee and No. 1 Alabama at Tyson Park. The squads have scheduled a doubleheader for Sunday, May 6, at 1 and 3 p.m. ET. The 1 p.m. game will still be televised on ESPN. Check into utladyvols.com or call the Lady Vol Hotline at 865-974-8700 (box #6) for further updates as they become available.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The first No. 1-No. 2 showdown of the 2007 NCAA Division I softball season is set for this weekend at Tyson Park in Knoxville, Tenn., as top-rated Alabama (50-4, 21-4 SEC) will battle second-ranked Tennessee (51-4, 21-4 SEC) in a three-game series to conclude the regular-season. The series opener (Saturday at 1 p.m. ET) will be shown on ESPN2 while the finale (Sunday 1 p.m. ET) will be broadcast on ESPN with Eric Collins and U.S. National Team member Cat Osterman on the call for the two match-ups. Both teams are currently tied with No. 4 LSU in the race for the SEC regular-season title.
Lindsay Schutzler will be honored prior to the series opener on Saturday at approximately 12:45 p.m. ET, while India Chiles will be feted on Sunday (12:45 p.m.) before the finale as part of Tennessee's annual "Senior Day" festivities.
The Big Orange and Crimson Tide own a storied series history that includes regular-season, Southeastern Conference Tournament and Women's College World Series meetings. Tennessee trails 22-11 overall, but is 6-5 over the last 11 contests against Alabama in the all-time series. The Lady Vols are 3-3 versus UA at Tyson Park since co-head coaches Ralph and Karen Weekly's arrival prior to the 2002 campaign and took two of three during the two squads' last meeting in Knoxville in 2005. UT also eliminated the Crimson Tide (4-0) from the 2005 WCWS in Oklahoma City, Okla., and from the 2006 SEC Tournament (2-1) in Athens, Ga., during Tennessee's run to its initial league championship.
The top two strikeout pitchers by total K's in NCAA Division I history will be in attendance at Tyson Park this weekend. Currently tied with Lady Vol senior Monica Abbott at 2,265 career K's, former Texas hurler and U.S. Olympian Cat Osterman will serve as ESPN's color commentator for both match-ups that will be broadcast live by ESPN. History is expected to be made as Abbott needs just one strikeout to break the deadlock and take over the all-time lead in the category in NCAA history. UT's 6-3 left hander has previously achieved the NCAA records for career wins, shutouts and total games during the 2007 campaign.
This weekend's series will be a test of Alabama's nation-leading offensive attack (.342 average, 7.44 runs per game) against Tennessee's NCAA Division I-leading pitching staff (0.78 ERA) and defense (.988). UT has been prolific in the offensive department as well as the Lady Vols currently rate seventh in the country with a .327 batting average to go along with 5.4 runs per contest. Strength at the catcher position will be doubly important during the series because the two squads currently guide the country in stolen bases per game. Alabama is No. 1 at 3.11 steals per game while the Orange & White are second by recording 2.49 thefts per contest.
UT pitchers Abbott (14.8) and junior Megan Rhodes (11.9) stand first and fifth in the country in strikeouts per seven innings, respectively. Chiles is ninth in the NCAA in batting average and second in the SEC at .468 overall. The Louisville, Ky., native continues to lead the league counting only SEC match-ups with a .534 mark. Schutzler rates third in the conference in average at .410, is tied for second in triples (five), ranks fourth in RBIs (48) and sixth in on-base percentage (.474), stolen bases (33) and runs scored (45).
Having supplanted the Big Orange at No. 1 in the polls this week to achieve the top spot for the first-time in its program's history, Alabama enters Tyson Park with the country's top-rated offense in tow. The Crimson Tide also currently guide the SEC in slugging percentage (.574), home runs (73), on-base percentage (.438), runs scored (402), stolen bases (168) and RBIs (347). In all, nine UA players have recorded at least 21 RBI while 13 Tide players have blasted at least one homer. Sophomore infielder Lauren Parker currently leads the squad with an SEC-best .484 average to go along with 46 runs, nine home runs and a team-high 43 RBI. Sophomore Brittany Rogers has tallied a .403 mark with four homers and 28 RBI, while freshman Charlotte Morgan (.382, nine HR's, 40 RBI), junior Jordan Praytor (.373, six HR's, 40 RBI), junior Dani Woods (.345, seven HR's, 42 RBI) and senior Mandy Burford (.336, 10 HR's, 41 RBI) each have more than 40 runs-batted-in on the season. Burford and sophomore Kelley Montalvo lead the squad in home runs with 10, while Parker and Morgan each boast nine round-trippers. Rogers has led the way with 44 thefts in 49 attempts as six members of the Crimson Tide have recorded 10 or more stolen bases. Alabama is no slouch in the pitching department either with the third-best team ERA in the league at 1.31. Junior Chrissy Owens has served as the team's ace by tallying a 23-2 record and a 1.08 ERA with 129 K's in 149 innings of work. Senior Blair Potter has been perfect as a No. 2 choice in the circle by going 16-0 with a 1.14 ERA and 110 strikeouts in 110.2 frames. Morgan has provided 52.1 innings of relief with a 2.27 ERA and an 8-2 record, while sophomore Allison Moore is 3-0 with 34 K's in 29.2 frames and a 1.42 earned run average.
The series against the Crimson Tide will open on Saturday at 1 p.m. ET. Live stats for all games will be available through utladyvols.com, and periodic updates will be provided to the Lady Vol Hotline at 865-974-8700 (box #6).