Abbott continued her amazing 2007 campaign by striking out 14 in the five-inning, one-hit shutout to up her season K total to 114 through 44 frames. She struck out the side three times to improve her count to 28 occurrences of striking out the side this year. Abbott's scoreless skein now stands at an impressive 31.1 consecutive innings dating back to the 2-1 victory at North Carolina.
"I am very happy with this win for three reasons," Tennessee co-head coach Ralph Weekly said. "First of all, Cal State-Fullerton is a very good team especially playing at home. Secondly, Candice Baker is one of the best pitchers we will face this year. Third, Fullerton recently defeated a No. 4 Northwestern team with Eileen Canney pitching, 2-0. Our kids came out on fire and hit the ball extremely well. I am again very happy with the contributions of our freshmen. They continue to hit like seniors. Tonya Callahan's home run was critical to our success."
Senior Lindsay Schutzler got Tennessee off to a good start in the first frame by ripping a shot the opposite way and off the glove of diving Cal State-Fullerton shortstop Courtney Martinez for a lead-off single. The Monterey, Calif., native exhibited a little of the patented Tennessee speed game by swiping second during senior left fielder India Chiles' at-bat and third with freshman catcher Tiffany Huff standing at the plate. Following consecutive strikeouts of Chiles and Huff by Titan starter Candice Baker, rookie designated player Alexia Clay worked the count to 3-2, but popped out to short left center to leave Schutzler stranded 60 feet from scoring the initial run of the contest.
Abbott proved she was ready to go in the circle against CSF as the 6-3 lefthander roared through Martinez, second baseman Sheila Holguin and catcher Kiki Munoz in order in the bottom of the first to strike out the side for the 26th time in 40 innings in 2007.
After the Big Orange threatened in the opening frame, Callahan got UT on the scoreboard via the long ball to lead off the second by blasting her third home run of the campaign deep over the left center field wall. The big fly marked the Holden, Mo., native's third in Tennessee's last four games, the 27th of her career and the Big Orange's 14th of the season. That total rates her third in the all-time home run category on the Lady Vol career listing standing just three behind leader Adrianna Wilson's (1999-2002) 30 HR's.
The strikeout parade continued in the bottom of the second as Abbott made it six-up and six-down by K as CSF right fielder Lauren Lupinetti, leftfielder Ashley Van Boxmeer and first baseman Katie Gollhardt all went down swinging against the three-time All-American hurler.
The third inning went by quietly, but not without the reigning USA Softball and NFCA National Player of the Week Abbott striking out the side, once again, to raise her total to nine K's for the game through just three innings of work.
Huff opened the top of the fourth with a bloop single into right center off CSF's Baker. Sophomore pinch runner Lillian Hammond advanced into scoring position on a perfect sacrifice bunt by Clay and was joined on the basepaths by Callahan after she drew a one-out walk. That's when Fullerton's Baker made a crucial mistake on a relatively routine grounder back to the circle off the bat of sophomore third baseman Jennifer Griffin. After fielding the ball, Baker turned and fired high to third in an attempt to cut down the lead runner Hammond. The orb tipped off the top of Yvette Fernandez's glove allowing Hammond to race home with UT's second run and Callahan and Griffin to end up at third and second, respectively.
That brought freshman rightfielder Erinn Webb to the dish with a prime opportunity to add to Tennessee's lead. The Hemet, Calif., product came through by ripping a two-strike, two-RBI single into centerfield to up the advantage to 4-0. After a sharp fly out to center by freshman second baseman Nicole Kajitani for the frame's second out, junior pinch hitter Shannon Doepking singled junior pinch runner Kenora Posey home with a shot into right center for UT's fifth tally.
Consecutive base hits by Schutzler and Chiles plated sophomore Liane Horiuchi and a two-RBI double from Huff, on her second hit of the inning, improved the lead to 8-0. On the play, Schutzler plated her 193rd career run as a member of the Orange & White to pass former Lady Vol Kelli Fitzgerald (1996-99) as the all-time Tennessee leader in that category.
A liner by Clay back to CSF's Baker in the circle was handled for the third out thereby ending the carnage at seven runs on six hits and an error as 11 Lady Vols visited the plate.
After two more K's in the bottom of the fourth to up her total to 11 in the contest, Fullerton's Munoz became the first Titan not to be retired by strikeout against Abbott after grounding out routinely to Griffin at third.
A potential no-hitter was broken up with one down in the bottom of the fifth as Van Boxmeer laced a base knock through the left side to record Cal State-Fullerton's only hit of the contest. Abbott responded by punching out Gollhardt and centerfielder Jenna Wheeler for 14 total strikeouts and her eighth win of the campaign.
No. 1 Tennessee will conclude its 11-day West Coast trek by traveling to the prestigious Palm Springs Classic in Cathedral City, Calif., to face off against Loyola Marymount, No. 22 Fresno State, No. 12 UCLA, Michigan State and Oklahoma State.
Periodic updates will be provided on the Lady Vol Hotline at 865-974-8700 (box #6).
MORE HONORS: Monica Abbott has swept the major national and conference weekly awards in a single evaluation period for the second time in her career. She was chosen Wednesday by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association as its National Player of the Week after posting a 4-0 record with a 0.00 ERA, three shutouts, two no-hitters and 56 strikeouts in just 22 innings at the Louisville Slugger Desert Classic.
During the 2006 campaign, Abbott also swept the USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Week, NFCA National Player of the Week and SEC Pitcher of the Week awards (3-20/3-22) in a single evaluation period to join teammate Lindsay Schutzler as the only Lady Vols ever to complete the sweep.