Softball team gets 8-0 win in opener

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The No. 2 Tennessee Lady Vol softball team won its fourth consecutive season-opening contest by dropping Coastal Carolina, 8-0 in five innings on a very chilly day at the Carolina Classic. UT improved to a perfect 5-0 all-time against the Chanticleers and 23-0 against members of the Big South Conference.

Three-time All-American senior pitcher Monica Abbott permitted only a bunt single in the second inning on the way to registering a one-hit shutout with 13 strikeouts. The victory was the 140th of her illustrious career, moving her within 12 triumphs of breaking former Southern Miss hurler Courtney Blades' NCAA Division I win record of 151.

Senior leftfielder India Chiles was just 1-for-3 at the dish but made it count with a two-RBI double and two runs scored, while fellow senior outfielder Lindsay Schutzler was a perfect 2-for-2 with a pair of tallies. Sophomore Jennifer Griffin contributed the power by blasting a solo home run in the third inning as part of a 2-for-2, two-RBI effort. Freshmen Tiffany Huff and Alexia Clay (double) each registered their first collegiate hits as Lady Vols in the season-opening rout.

"Karen (co-head coach Weekly) and I were really proud of the way our kids came out today ready to play," Tennessee Co-Head Coach Ralph Weekly said. "Monica Abbott threw an outstanding game for us, and several younger players really contributed to our effort. Tomorrow will be a challenging day with two tough former NCAA Regional qualifiers in North Carolina and Penn State to deal with. We will look at the film tonight and try to get better tomorrow."

Abbott was ready to go in the circle and showed it by blowing through the Chanticleer lineup in the top of the first. She struck out two of the first three batters she faced including opposing pitcher Danyelle Gerdts and second baseman Allison Cantrell.

The prolific Lady Vol offensive attack wasted no time getting started in 2007 by reaching Gerdts for thee runs in the bottom of the first on two hits and an error. Schutzler opened the attack by singling to left field to lead-off the inning. Chiles reached safely on a fielding error by CCU third baseman Brittany Birnbaum, allowing UT a pair of baserunners with no one retired.

The duo each promptly swiped bases to move up 60 feet into scoring position. Huff walked in her first collegiate plate appearance, and junior first baseman Tonya Callahan also coerced a base-on-balls to force in the game's first run.

Sophomore right fielder Danielle Pieroni lifted a Gerdts offering into left field for a sacrifice fly to score Chiles from third. Griffin later added an RBI single to make it 3-0 Tennessee through one.

UT added two more runs to its tally in the second as more wildness hurt the CCU pitching staff. Junior second baseman Kenora Posey walked, swiped second and was joined on the basepaths by Schutzler who also drew a base-on-balls. A Chiles fielder's choice made it runners at the corners with one down. Chiles took off for second on a steal attempt and the throw from Coastal Carolina catcher Glynn Tolleson drifted wild into center field for an error permitting Posey to score and make it 4-0.

Huff's first collegiate hit, a single that ricocheted hard off Gerdts' chest, allowed Chiles to cross for a five-run advantage.

With one out in the third, Griffin delivered her solo blast over the wall in left center for a 6-0 Tennessee lead. A Posey single, a two-bagger from Schutzler that dropped in front of CCU left fielder Erika Trujillo and kicked toward the line and Chiles' double down the left field line plated two to finalize the score at 8-0.

A lead-off walk permitted to Trujillo in the top of the fifth meant little as Abbott struck out the side for the second time in the contest to close out the victory for the Lady Vols.

The Big Orange will next take to the diamond on Saturday morning, Feb. 10 at 10 a.m. against the Penn State Nittany Lions before a scheduled afternoon contest against homestanding North Carolina at 3 p.m. Periodic updates will be provided on the Lady Vol Hotline at 865-974-8700 (box #6).

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