KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (Feb. 25, 2004) -- Tennessee freshman sensation Monica Abbott capped a memorable home debut on Wednesday with both the game-winning hit and the victory in relief as 11th-rated Tennessee edged East Tennessee State, 3-2, to take both ends of a doubleheader at Tyson Park.
Deadlocked at two runs apiece in the third inning, Abbott smashed a two-out single to plate sophomore Danielle Arriaga with the decisive run. The lefty had relieved sophomore Stacey Jennings in the top of the frame and wound up tossing 4.2 scoreless innings, with nine punchouts, to improve her season ledger to 14-0. She twirled a one-hitter with a school-record 16 Ks in the opener, a 7-0 Lady Vol triumph, and wound up scattering three hits and surrendering zero runs over 11.2 frames of work on the day.
Tennessee improves to 15-2 overall, while the ETSU drops to 5-4.
"In the second game we were out of sync offensively and never could get back on track," said Lady Vol co-head coach Ralph Weekly. "To make matters worse, ETSU played extremely well, necessitating a change in momentum."
Freshman Lindsay Schutzler started the bottom of the first with a walk but was thrown out at second base when sophomore Katherine Card's Texas Leaguer caused the runner to misjudge the flight of the ball. Sophomore Kristi Durant earned a free pass and senior Amber Rhinehart was grazed by a pitch from ETSU sophomore Belinda Barrera (Fayetteville, N.C.) to load the sacks with one out. Senior Lauren Mattox roped a RBI single into right field for UT's initial run but the Buccaneers escaped the jam by turning an inning-ending double play.
Tennessee added another run in the second when sophomore Sarah Fekete reached on a fielder's choice, swiped second base and scored on a pair of throwing miscues on the play. Schutzler then boosted her hitting streak with nine games with a slap hit and raced over to third base when the relay throw sailed wide of first base. Barrera plunked Card with a pitch and then induced an infield fly by Durant to hold the margin at 2-0.
ETSU broke through to tie the game in the third inning, helped by back-to-back one-out singles by junior Mary Beth Hazelwood (Knoxville, Tenn.) and sophomore Janine Sprague (Hillsborough, N.C.). Sophomore pitcher Stacey Jennings then committed an error to load the bases for the visitors, causing a pitching change for the Lady Vols. Abbott entered the circle for the Weelys' squad and struck out junior Danielle Spetar (Knoxville, Tenn.) for the second out. However, junior Lindsay Lane (Erwin, Tenn.) tied the contest at 2-2 with a two-run single into right center field to bring home a couple of unearned runs charged to the starter. The southpaw then caught Miranda Byerly (Candler, N.C.) looking to close the frame.
In the bottom of the inning, Arriaga drew a walk with two down and Jennings smacked a double to left field to give the Orange a couple of runners in scoring position. Abbott helped her own cause with a hard liner off the Buccaneer third baseman to bring home Arriaga with the go-ahead run.
Spetar legged out a bunt to start the sixth and stole second base, putting ETSU in position to score the equalizer. Abbott struck out Lane, had Byerly pop up and whiffed senior Tiffany McVay (Soddy-Daisy, Tenn.) to preserve the tenuous one-run advantage.
Barrera went the distance in the circle for ETSU, allowing eight hits, four walks and three runs, but was on the hook for the defeat. The duo of California freshmen, Abbott and Schutzler chipped in with two hits apiece for the Lady Vols, with Sprague going 2-for-4 from the leadoff spot to lead the Bucs.
ETSU will prepare for a trip to the Sunshine State next week. The Buccaneers will play 10 contests at the Rebel Spring Games in Kissimmee, Fla. from Feb. 29-Mar. 5.