The Lady Vols won their second indoor crown in the past three seasons and third overall title by tallying 120 points to hold off defending champ Georgia (103) and LSU (101) as well as the rest of the field.
Sophomore Sarah Bowman played a key role in the triumph, claiming a distance double by winning the 3000 meters and mile run. She wrapped up a stellar weekend by anchoring UT's distance medley relay to a come-from-behind victory that clinched the meet's team title for Tennessee.
In addition to Bowman's heroics, there were numerous other performances that made the Lady Vol win a total team effort. Among them were second-place individual outings by junior Shanna Dickenson in the weight throw, junior Courtney Champion in the 60m dash, sophomore Celriece Law in the 60m hurdles and senior Leslie Treherne in the 800m run.
Champion and Law each set school records in the process with times of 7.15 and 8.15 seconds, respectively.
SOFTBALL BROADCASTS: With every challenge met thus far during the 2007 campaign to the tune of a perfect 22-0 record, the No. 1 Tennessee Lady Vol softball team is preparing for its toughest challenge yet by readying to open play in the rugged SEC with a weekend visit to face No. 19 Florida (18-8) for a three-game series.
The Big Orange will battle the Gators in a doubleheader on Saturday at 1 and 3 p.m. ET, with both contests broadcast on The Sports Animal (99.1, 99.3 FM, 990 AM) with the "Voice of the Lady Vols" Mickey Dearstone on the call, before closing the set with a single matchup on Sunday at 1 p.m.
The Lady Vols maintain just a 15-24 all-time record against Florida, but have won eight of the last 12 contests between the two schools dating back to April 17, 2004. UF took two of three games (1-2, 0-1 (8), 6-2) from Tennessee in the Big Orange's last visit to the Florida Softball Field in Gainesville, Fla., over April 16-17, 2005, before UT gained a measure of revenge at the same site in the 2005 SEC Tournament with a 4-0 victory.
Battle-tested Florida enters the series with an 18-8 overall mark and a No. 19 national ranking according to the Louisville Slugger/National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) poll, but enters this weekend having lost three of its last five contests at the Stacy Winsberg Tournament in Los Angeles, Calif., over March 2-4.
The Gators already own a triumph over a No. 1 team this season after defeating then-top-ranked Arizona, 3-1, in extra-innings at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz., on Feb. 10. UF has also played but lost to nationally-ranked teams Baylor (6-7), N.C. State (0-1, 3-4), UCLA (2-10) and Illinois State (0-1, 0-1).
Under the direction of second-year head coach Tim Walton, the Orange & Blue are hitting just .241 as a team, but the pitching staff has been solid to the tune of a 1.55 ERA while holding opponents to just a .230 average.
UF is led offensively by sophomore Kim Waleszonia, who enters the series with a .349 average and a team-best 17 runs scored. Sophomore Ali Gardiner owns a .289 average with two home runs and a squad-best 15 RBI. Senior Melissa Zick is tied for the team-high in home runs with three with freshman catcher Francesca Enea, but the latter suffered an injury and has not played recently.
In the circle, sophomore right-hander Stacey Nelson guides the way with an 11-4 mark, a 0.96 ERA, 12 complete games and 95 strikeouts in 101.2 innings of work. The Los Alamitos, Calif., native was 0-1 with a save in three appearances against the Lady Vols in 2006. Senior right-hander Stacey Stevens is 7-4 with a 2.34 ERA and 52 K's in 74.2 frames and held a 2-1 record against UT last season. Florida has made 24 errors this season in the field for a .970 fielding percentage.
Tennessee will be looking to improve on its 22-game winning streak and the second-best opening to a campaign in school history. The Big Orange opened the 2006 season at 24-0 and tied the program mark for longest winning streak before suffering a 3-1 defeat to No. 18 Auburn in the second game of their '06 league-opening series.
Last time out, UT swept a Tuesday evening doubleheader from Appalachian State in the home opener at Tyson Park by scores of 1-0 and 7-1. Senior pitcher Monica Abbott picked up both triumphs to raise her season record to 16-0 while improving her scoreless inning streak to the seventh-best total all-time in NCAA Division I history at 82.2 consecutive frames.
With her 94th career shutout in the 1-0 victory over the Mountaineers, the Salinas, Calif., native also tied former California hurler Michele Granger for the NCAA Division I career shutout record. In the opener, sophomore rightfielder Danielle Pieroni came through with a clutch RBI-single in the fourth to grant Tennessee its lone run. In the nightcap, the Orange & White utilized the long ball to race by ASU as senior centerfielder Lindsay Schutzler blasted a three-run bomb as part of a four-RBI effort, while freshman third baseman Anita Manuma registered her first collegiate hit in the fourth inning and hammered her initial home run with a two-run shot in the fifth.
Live stats will be available through utladyvols.com of all three matchups, 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.