Abbott 1st-team A-A

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – Monica Abbott (Salinas, Calif.) put the icing on a phenomenal freshman season by being announced as a first-team All-American by Louisville Slugger/National Fastpitch Coaches Association on Wednesday night. Joining Arizona sophomore Alicia Hollowell and Stanford's Dana Sorensen on the first unit, the left-hander becomes Tennessee's initial honoree since the program's inception in 1996.

"This is a great day for Monica and Tennessee softball," said Ralph Weekly. "She would be the first to tell you that her success was a team effort and she is fortunate to pitch with the number one defense in the country behind her. Monica remains humble and very much attuned to how she can get better every day. She is a special young woman with a tremendous future in softball for many years to come. Karen and I are proud of Monica and everything she has accomplished in her short time as a Lady Vol."  

The current Division I leader in strikeouts (582) and victories (45), Abbott played an integral part in the Lady Vols reaching the NCAA Tournament and winning the Southeastern Conference's Eastern Division title for the first time since 1999. Selected as the SEC's Pitcher of the Year and Freshman of the Year, the rookie rewrote the school's record book and was among the finalists for USA Softball's Collegiate Player of the Year award. Abbott fired a no-hitter against Saint Mary's in her collegiate debut on Feb. 5 and claimed the first 17 decisions of her career, a span covering from Feb. 5-27. She garnered the league's Pitcher of the Week accolade a record-tying four times and totaled 34 double-digit strikeout efforts on her way to finishing in the top three of 10 different SEC pitching categories.   

Abbott established NCAA rookie marks and SEC season records for victories and strikeouts and wound up second on the all-time list for K in a year behind Southern Mississippi All-American Courtney Blades (663 in 2000). She fired 24 solo shutouts, leaving her one back of Jackie Beavers' school record in a career, and will enter next season just 15 strikeouts from Stephanie Humphrey's standard of 596 crafted between 2000 and 2003. Abbott delivered four no-hitters, including a perfect game, seven one-hitters and 13 two-hitters, with a pair coming at NCAA Regionals.   

The Lady Vols (55-16) registered a program-best 55 wins and picked up their first triumphs in NCAA play by going 2-2 at Regional No. 6 in Ann Arbor, Mich., where Abbott and sophomore Kristi Durant (Placentia, Calif.) represented the Orange on the all-tournament team. The southpaw will gain more experience this summer by competing on USA Softball's 14-member Elite Team that will compete at the 2004 Canada Cup, the U.S. Champions Cup and other events to be scheduled between June 28 and July 18. She will be the lone student-athlete from the SEC on the squad to be coached by Mississippi State's Jay Miller.     

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