Tide Swept in Knoxville

Playing as the No. 1 team in the country for the first time, the University of Alabama faced No. 2 Tennessee on Sunday at Tennessee Field at Tyson Park and suffered a pair of losses, 9-2 and 4-0.

Tennessee won the Southeastern Conference regular season crown with the pair of wins, while Alabama finished the regular season second in the SEC Western Division, percentage points behind LSU.

The Lady Vols broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the third inning of the second game on a RBI single by Lindsay Schutzler. Her single up the middle brought home Liane Horiuchi, who led off the inning with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt.

Tennessee added a run in the fourth inning on a single up the middle by Horiuchi. A second runner tried to score but center fielder Brittany Rogers threw a perfect strike to Ashley Holcombe at home plate to get Jennifer Griffin out. Tonya Callahan made it 3-0 in the fifth inning on a solo home run to left field, her 10th of the season. Later that inning another run came in to score on a single down the left field line by Griffin.

The Tide had an opportunity to take the first lead of the game in the second inning. With runners on first and second and one out, Kelley Montalvo battled at the plate by fouling off four pitches with a full count before finally striking out on an outside pitch. The next batter was Holcombe and she sent five pitches into foul territory with a full count and on the 11th pitch sent a single through the left side.

Head coach Patrick Murphy waived pinch-runner Michelle Menningmann home and left fielder India Chiles through a one-hop strike to home plate and Shannon Doepking applied the tag for the final out.

Alabama had several chances to score throughout the game, but left 10 runners on base. In four of the seven innings, the Tide stranded two runners. The only inning they did not put two runners on base was in the first.

Blair Potter went the distance pitching six innings with four runs allowed on 11 hits, four walks and seven strikeouts. She suffered the first loss of her two-year career at Alabama, falling to 16-1 on the year and 21-1 in her career. Megan Rhodes did not allow a run on four hits in four innings with three walks and five strikeouts to improve to 13-2. Monica Abbott earned her fifth save, tossing the final three innings with three hits allowed and five strikeouts.

Holcombe and Rogers each tallied two hits in the contest. Four Lady Vols tallied two hits to lead Tennessee to the sweep.

The Crimson Tide defense struggled in the first game as they committed a season-high four errors, leading to nine runs on 12 hits in a 9-2 loss.

The Lady Vols jumped out to an early lead when Chiles scored the first run of the game on an error by Alabama center fielder Brittany Rogers. With Chiles on second base, Tiffany Huff singled up the middle but the ball scooted past Rogers allowing the runners to move up an extra base and Chiles to score from second.

An error in the second inning allowed two more runs to score for Tennessee, giving them a 3-0 lead. A ball hit to the shortstop Kellie Eubanks went off her glove into center field, scoring Liane Horiuchi to score. A single through the left side by Callahan brought Chiles in to score for the third run of the game.

The Tide's fourth error of the game extended the sixth inning and allowed the Lady Vols to take a 9-2 lead with four more runs. With runners on second and third, Liane Horiuchi hit a grounder to third base. Montalvo checked the runners to keep them at second and third but a wild throw that reached the Alabama dugout brought in two runs and allowed Horiuchi to go to second. Allison Moore then came in to pitch for Chrissy Owens. With two on and two outs Callahan hit a pop fly to shortstop that Eubanks could not find in the air. The ball fell for a two-run single.

Alabama had cut the lead to 3-2 in the top of the third. A walk and two infield singles by Rogers and Jordan Praytor loaded the bases with no outs. Two batters later Lauren Parker hit a fly ball to left center for a sacrifice fly, bringing in pinchrunner Mallory Benak from third for the Tide's first run of the game. With two outs Mandy Buford sent a 2-2 pitch through the left side to bring in Rogers from second and make the score 3-2.

UT answered with a pair of runs in the bottom of the fourth to extend their lead back to three runs. Chiles and Lindsay Schutzler led off the inning with back-to-back singles. Callahan then came through with a double to the wall in left center to bring in both runner and make the score 5-2.

Rogers led the Crimson Tide with three hits and a run scored. Parker and Burford each recorded a RBI in the game. Callahan led Tennessee in the game going 3-for-4 with five RBI. Chiles set the table with three hits in three at bats, three runs scored and three stolen bases. Anita Manuma and Horiuchi each added two hits.

Owens suffered just her third loss of the season. She fell to 23-3 after allowing eight runs, three earned, on 11 hits, seven walks and four strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings. Monica Abbott improved to 40-2 after pitching seven innings with two runs on five hits, two walks and six strikeouts.

The Tide concludes the regular season with a record of 50-6 and 21-6 mark in the SEC. They will next travel to Auburn for the 2007 SEC Tournament May 10-12.

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