Not even Mother Nature could help Arkansas this time around.
Rain suspended play after one half-inning Saturday, but No. 4 Tennessee still found a way to sweep the Lady Razorbacks Sunday in a softball doubleheader at Tyson Park.
Lady Vol left-hander Monica Abbott started both games of the abbreviated two-game series, yielding just one run in 12 innings of work to record wins in both outings. In the second game, Abbott (29-2) threw a complete-game six-hitter while striking out eight to lead Tennessee (41-5, 11-2 SEC) to a 2-1 victory.
The Lady Razorbacks (13-28, 0-14) still had a chance to tie the second game in the seventh inning. After a leadoff single, Arkansas advanced a pinch runner to second on a sacrifice bunt. But Abbott picked up a strikeout and a game-ending groundout to give UT its 12th win in the last 13 games.
“I thought Arkansas was a much improved team in this series, especially on offense,” Lady Vols co-coach Ralph Weekly said. “I thought that they played with great intensity, and this was a great series.”
Tennessee jumped ahead in the bottom of thefirst with the first of two RBIs from junior third baseman Kristi Durant, who improved her SEC-leading RBI total to 60 by the end of the game.
Arkansas fought back to tie the score at 1-1 on a RBI single to left-center field in the top of the third by Kallie Foglesong. The run was just the eighth scored this season off Abbott in 198-2/3 innings pitched.
Tennessee bounced back to take the lead in the bottom of the third, with Durant’s double to center driving in India Chiles to give UT the game-winning run.
“We didn’t bring our best game today in any facet, and (we) have to learn to be more energetic to win day in and day out in this league,” Weekly said.
In the first game, the Lady Vols picked up Sunday morning where they left off Saturday in the bottom of the first and stormed to a 6-0 victory behind five strong innings from Abbott.
Junior center fielder Stacey Jennings and freshman first baseman Tonya Callahan each drove in a pair of runs while Chiles went 2-for-3 with two runs scored. Leadoff hitter Lindsay Schutzler went 2-for-4 with a solo home run.
Schutzler’s home run and strong defensive play impressed Weekly.
“I thought Lindsay Schutzler played exceptionally well at shortstop,” Weekly said. “Her home run in the first game was the key and her play deep in the hole at short to cut down the Arkansas hitter in the second game was tremendous.”
Abbott gave up just one hit while striking out seven in the series opener.
The Lady Vols remained in a scoreless tie until the bottom of the fourth when they erupted for four runs on five hits. Callahan drove in the first two runs with a single to right-center, and Jennings doubled to right-center to score two more.