Tennessee wins double-header

Make it 22 straight wins for No. 1 Tennessee as the Lady Vols used home runs from senior centerfielder Lindsay Schutzler and freshman third baseman Anita Manuma to roll past Appalachian State, 7-1, and sweep the home-opening doubleheader at Tyson Park on Tuesday evening.

Senior hurler Monica Abbott improved to 16-0 in the circle after working 2.1 innings of scoreless relief with five strikeouts to extend her scoreless streak to a staggering 82.2 frames, seventh-best in NCAA history.

Starter Megan Rhodes worked 4.2 innings while permitting one earned run and registering 11 strikeouts before exiting in the fifth with the score tied at 1-1.

Offensively, Schutzler was 2-for-3 with a three-run HR and four RBI, while Manuma was 2-of-3 with a two-run blast. Senior centerfielder India Chiles delivered a 2-for-2 effort before suffering a minor injury that will be evaluated further Wednesday.

"We elected to play some new players today and went without our leading hitter Jennifer Griffin while switching our normal corner positions," Lady Vol co-head coach Ralph Weekly said. "Unfortunately, in game one it didn't prove to be very successful. Appalachian State played us very tough throughout. The second contest we went without Griffin, our leading RBI producer in Tiffany Huff and lost India Chiles to a minor injury allowing several young players the opportunity to play.

"Both Karen (co-head coach Weekly) and I were really pleased with the pitching today. We also were pleased with Anita Manuma, both offensively and defensively, as well as with Lindsay Schutzler who hit the ball well all day long."

Rhodes proved she was on her game right off the bat in the top of the first by rolling through Appalachian State leftfielder Danielle Peters, third baseman Lindsay Glover and designated player Brittany Gaston consecutively to strike out the side.

In the first game, UT downed Appalachian State, 1-0, behind a one-hit, 15-K shutout from Abbott and a fourth inning RBI-single off the bat of sophomore rightfielder Danielle Pieroni. With the blanking, Abbott tied former California hurler Michele Granger for the NCAA Division I career shutout record at 94.

No. 1 Tennessee, 22-0, will open SEC play this weekend with a visit to Gainesville, Fla., on March 10-11, to battle the nationally ranked Florida Gators.

Live stats will be available through utladyvols.com, and periodic updates will be provided to the Lady Vol Hotline at 865-974-8700 (box #6 ).

The Saturday doubleheader will be broadcast live on The Sports Animal (99.1, 99.3 FM, 990 AM) with the "Voice of the Lady Vols" Mickey Dearstone at 1 and 3 p.m. ET.

SEC HONORS: Breaking the NCAA Division I career victory mark with her 152nd win and hurling her fifth career perfect game were enough to gain Tennessee senior pitcher Monica Abbott her third SEC Pitcher of the Week honor of the season and 15th of her career.

Abbott also picked up a nod as the Lady Vol Athlete of the Week in a vote of the Lady Vol Media Relations staff.

The Salinas, Calif., native stretched her consecutive scoreless inning streak to 73.1 innings, dating to the sixth frame of a 2-1, no-hitter against North Carolina on Feb. 10, by working 21 more scoreless frames this past weekend at the Frost Classic in Chattanooga, Tenn., to stand eighth all-time on the NCAA consecutive scoreless inning list.

Abbott also hurled her fifth career perfect game and 20th no-hitter in blanking Austin Peay, 2-0, to pick up the Frost Classic title, despite pitching in 19-degree wind chill and mid-20's temperatures. The shutout against the Lady Govs marked her 93rd career shutout, just one off former California pitcher Michele Granger's NCAA Division I record of 94.

On Tuesday, in the home opener, UT defeated Appalachian State, 1-0, behind a one-hit, 15-K shutout from Abbott. With that blanking, Abbott tied Granger at 94.

The softball team is again the unanimous choice as the nation's No. 1 squad according to the newest release of the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll on Tuesday. The Orange & White picked up all 20 first-place votes for the second consecutive week after winning the Frost Classic.

The top three remained unchanged as defending national champion Arizona (14-3) continues at No. 2 after sweeping Missouri in a three-game set this past weekend. Alabama is No. 3 after improving to 21-0 with an unbeaten run through its own Easton Spring Fling Tournament in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Texas A&M (19-2) rose a position to fourth after six straight triumphs at the Texas A&M Invitational in College Station, Texas. Undefeated Oklahoma (23-0) rose from seventh to fifth after seven consecutive victories at the OU Residence Inn Invitational in Norman, Okla.

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