The Red, White & Blue are currently in the midst of their 46-stop "Bound 4 Beijing" Tour which matches the best team in the world against collegiate and all-star teams as a warm-up for the Olympic Games this summer in Beijing, China. Team USA is 18-1 overall with its most recent victories coming by a 13-1 count over UNC-Greensboro on April 10th and 10-3 victory versus Houston on April 8th.
Four-time NFCA All-American hurler Monica Abbott will be making her first visit to the new Lee Softball Stadium and is expected to get the start in the circle against her former team. During the current tour, the Salinas, Calif., native has registered a 0.32 ERA with a 3-0 record and 44 strikeouts in just 22 innings of work.
Tennessee enters this matchup on a nine-game winning streak after sweeping then-No. 14 Georgia last weekend and mid-week doubleheaders from both Liberty and Western Carolina.
Senior third baseman Tonya Callahan is guiding the way for the Big Orange offensively. The Top 25 finalist for the USA Softball National Player of the Year trophy currently ranks first in slugging percentage (.844), on-base percentage (.589) and total bases (103), is tied for first in home runs (12), is second in batting average (.451) and second in RBI (47) counting all games in the SEC.
In all, five Lady Vols possess more than 20 RBI (sophomore Erinn Webb has 26) with Callahan (47), sophomore Tiffany Huff (36), senior Shannon Doepking (34) and freshman Jen Lapicki (32) each tallying over 30.
From the circle senior Megan Rhodes (19-4) and freshman Ashton Ward (21-3) have each totaled 146 or more innings in the circle while combining to rate third in the SEC in total strikeouts with 313. Opposing hitters have posted just a .175 batting average against the duo, while the pair has combined for seven solo and 15 combined shutouts. Teams are scoring at just a 1.9 run-per-game pace against the Tennessee pitching staff.
Live stats should be available through utladyvols.com, while periodic updates will be recorded on the Lady Vol Hotline (865-974-8700, box #6).