Freshman Monica Abbott rebounded from a disappointing finish in the opener of No. 10 Tennessee's series against ninth-ranked Georgia to help the Lady Vols salvage the finale on Sunday afternoon with a 6-3 triumph.
Down 3-2 entering the fifth, Tennessee poked three hits and scored three unearned runs to regain a lead it would not relinquish. The Lady Vols (47-12,18-8 ) will conclude its SEC schedule next weekend by hosting Ole Miss (15-33, 8-19) at Tyson Park, while Georgia (45-12, 19-8) visits No. 13 Alabama (36-15, 16-11). The Rebels captured two of three outings from No. 25 South Carolina in Columbia.
Abbott (39-6) notched four more strikeouts to tie former Southern Mississippi All-American Courtney Blades for third on the NCAA's all-time for K in a season.
Tennessee plated two runs on three hits in the second to chase freshman Katie Griffith from the circle. Senior Amber Rhinehart was plunked to begin the inning and sophomore Stacey Jennings executed a sacrifice to advance freshman pinch runner Ashley Cline into scoring position. Senior Angela Brewer delivered a double over the outstretched arms of senior All-American center fielder Nicole Barber to help the Lady Vols draw first blood.
Abbott hit sophomore Ashley Godfrey to start the bottom of the stanza and junior Nicole Green advanced her teammate with a bunt. The Lady Vols would turn a 6-3-5 double play to escape the jam, as freshman Megan McAllister grounded out to Schutzler at short and Brewer gunned down Godfrey attempting to reach third.
The Red and Black seized a 3-2 lead in the home portion of the inning on Godfrey's monstrous three-run blast that cleared the scoreboard overlooking the wall in left. Barber had come through with the Dawgs' initial hit off Abbott to lead off and junior Katie Lewis poked a single to put the hosts in business. Tennessee caught a break when Mattox made a diving grab of sophomore Courtney Knight's bunt attempt. This excitement was short-lived, as Godfrey's 10th blast of the season was reminiscent of the shot she hit in the bottom of the seventh yesterday to knot the game at 4-4.
A two-out rally in the fifth, featuring three Tennessee hits and a critical Georgia error, resulted in a 5-3 lead for the Weeklys' club. Jennings singled with two down and moved herself into scoring position with her second stolen base of the campaign. UGA decided to walk Brewer intentionally to face Fishback and the move backfired when senior third baseman Shannon McKeon misplayed a line drive for an error. Consequently, Jennings came across with the tying run and Brewer and Fishback occupied third and second base, respectively. Card and Schutzler delivered consecutive singles to move the Lady Vols ahead by a couple of runs, but Schutzler was picked off first to end the inning.
Knight started UGA's sixth turn at the plate with a single to left center before Abbott induced a foul pop-up by Godfrey that Durant snared. Green followed with a base-hit for runners on first and second and Abbott let loose a wild pitch to move both UGA players into scoring position. Durant was in exactly the right spot to snatch McAllister's screamer down to third and the left-hander had McKeon fly out to Fishback to preserve the three-run lead.
Tennessee registered 13 hits off the duo of Griffith (1.2 IP, three hits, two runs) and Carroll (13-5, 5.1 IP, 10 hits, four runs), as Card and Schutzler were each 3-for-4 and Fishback and Jennings chipped in with a pair of hits apiece. Barber, Green and Lewis each managed two hits for the Bulldogs.