She’s human after all.
Sophomore pitcher Monica Abbott, who entered Sunday’s game at No. 22 Auburn with a 31-2 record, gave up four home runs in a 6-1 loss to the Tigers at Jane B. Moore Field in Auburn, Ala., as the Lady Vol softball team dropped its first SEC series of the year.
“Auburn hit the ball extremely well and deserved the win,” Lady Vol coach Ralph Weekly said. “We left runners in scoring position that could have made the game a little closer.”
Abbott, who had only given up four home runs on the season entering Sunday’s game, never found a rhythm as she was rocked for six runs in three innings while striking out five.
“Monica Abbott is a great pitcher who came into this game 31-2,” Weekly said. “She was fresh and ready. She just had a bad day against good hitters. She will be ready her next outing and so will our team.”
No. 4 Tennessee (44-7, 12-4 SEC) — still without the services of the SEC’s leading hitter, Sarah Fekete, freshman catcher Shannon Doepkind and second baseman Ashley Cline — could not put together enough offense to overcome Auburn’s outburst.
The Lady Vols took a 1-0 lead in the first as Kenora Posey, making her first career start, scored as Katherine Card reached on an error.
But Auburn hit its first home run in the bottom of the first, and followed with back-to-back shots in the third and another in the fourth. The four home runs tied a program record for the Tigers.
“We put on a hitting display,” Auburn coach Tina Deese said. “Monica had a great performance against us Saturday, but our batters stayed focused and learned today. Our team really came together with the offensive effort.”
Megan Rhodes pitched three innings of scoreless relief, but it was too little, too late.
It marked the first time Tennessee lost an SEC series since dropping two of three at Georgia in 2004.
The Lady Vols got off to a good start in Saturday’s first game, defeating the Tigers 5-0 behind Abbott’s 16-strikeout, one-hit shutout. It marked the 34th shutout by a UT pitcher this season.
First baseman Tonya Callahan went 2-for-3 at the plate, including her fifth home run of the season, and Natalie Brock had a 1-for-2 afternoon with two runs scored.
Tennessee took a 2-0 lead in the second inning on Callahan’s solo blast and Ashley Cline scored on a failed pickoff attempt.
The Lady Vols were sat down in order in the first, third, fourth, fifth and seventh innings, but rallied for three runs in the sixth on the heels of Brittany Bessho’s two-out, three-run triple down the right field line.
“Monica pitched well and we had two key hits from Tonya Callahan and Brittany Bessho, along with good defense,” Weekly said. “It was a tough fastpitch game.”
Saturday’s second game was another tight one for most of the way as Auburn took an early 2-0 advantage in the first inning en route to a 3-1 victory.
Tennessee got a run back in the third on a Lindsay Schutzler home run, but was unable to capitalize on a scoring chance later in the inning when Callahan beat a throw to home but missed the plate as she avoided the catcher.
The Lady Vols return to action Wednesday as they face perennial rival Virginia Tech in the annual State Line Classic in Bristol. Game time is 6 p.m.