Monica Abbott makes history

CHATTANOOGA - With a beyond-capacity crowd of 778 watching at Chattanooga's Hargraves Field, including several hundred fans ringing the outfield fence and standing down both lines, Tennessee Lady Vol senior pitcher Monica Abbott made softball history on Saturday morning by defeating Tennessee Tech, 4-0, to pick up her 152nd career victory.

The win broke the NCAA Division I career wins record held by former Southern Miss hurler Courtney Blades.

Abbott struck out 18 in the contest and hasn't allowed a run in her last 66.1 innings of work in the circle.

Senior center fielder Lindsay Schutzler led Tennessee's eight-hit offensive attack with a 2-for-3, two RBI effort and a solo home run. Freshman designated player Alexia Clay knocked in a pair, while fellow rookie right fielder Tiffany Huff was 2-of-3 with a run scored.

"I am truly honored to have broken the NCAA career win record," the Lady Vol senior said. "This means a great deal to me, and obviously is shared with all those players who have played alongside me during my career, my coaches Ralph and Karen Weekly and my pitching coach Marty McDaniel. I couldn't win without them all standing behind me each game."

The 6-3 lefthander closed out the record in style by striking out the side in the seventh to raise her total to 18 K's for the game.

It was quite a pitching weekend for the softball team. Junior hurler Megan Rhodes struck out a career-high 19 in throwing her first career perfect game as the Lady Vols rolled past Oakland, 7-0, at the Frost Classic in Chattanooga, Tenn. That day, UT pitchers combined to strikeout 37 hitters after Abbott K'ed 18 in the opener against Illinois-Chicago.

"Both Karen (co-head coach Weekly) and I thought the pitching was superb all day today," Lady Vol co-head coach Ralph Weekly said. "It's amazing that between Monica Abbott and Megan Rhodes, the two pitchers combined for 37 strikeouts."

The good times continued Saturday at the Frost Classic as No. 1 Tennessee (19-0) followed up Monica Abbott's historic victory against Tennessee Tech by unleashing a 13-hit attack to drop Toledo, 9-1, behind a two-hit, 12-K effort from Rhodes (6-0).

Freshmen Tiffany Huff (3-of-4, 3-R HR, four RBI) and Nicole Kajitani (3-for-4, three RBI), junior first baseman Tonya Callahan (2-for-2, two RBI, two runs) and seniors Lindsay Schutzler (3-for-4, two runs) and India Chiles (2-for-2, three runs) led the 13-hit offensive assault against the Rockets.

"Today was a special day for Monica Abbott and our entire program," Ralph Weekly said. "It was really special to play in front of a crowd approaching 1,000 fans at the first game. It was definitely a Big Orange atmosphere.

"Facing Tennessee Tech in game one, a team that had beaten Florida State and Nebraska in the past week, was a challenge, but Monica pitched extremely well in striking out 18. Lindsay Schutzler's lead-off home run into the wind to right was one of the longest shots hit this year. In game two our ‘Batbuster' duo combined for seven RBI as Tiffany Huff hit a three-run homer and knocked in four runs, while Nicole Kajitani had three hits and three RBI. It's great to see our freshmen continue to perform well."

Tennessee will conclude play at the Frost Classic on Sunday morning against Austin Peay at 9 a.m. on Hargraves Field near the Jim Frost Stadium on the campus of Tennessee-Chattanooga. Periodic updates will be provided to the Lady Vol Hotline at 865-974-8700 (box #6).

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