When you’re hot, you’re hot.
And right now, no one is hotter than Tennessee’s Monica Abbott.
The sophomore pitcher from Salinas, Calif., threw her second perfect game in a week as No. 4 Tennessee won a pair over in-state rival Tennessee Tech on Tuesday in Cookeville by scores of 1-0 and 3-0.
In the first game, Abbott threw her third collegiate perfect game and matched a season high with 18 strikeouts — she struck out the first 10 batters she faced — in the victory over the Golden Eagles.
But it wasn’t easy going for the Lady Vols — it took a seventh-inning rally to scratch out a run and tally a 1-0 win.
“These in-state rivalries are always tough,” Lady Vol coach Ralph Weekly said. “Teams always get up to play Tennessee.
“Tech played outstanding defense in both games, and we had to scratch out runs the hard way.”
Freshman designated player Natalie Brock singled to right to open the seventh inning, and a clutch one-out double by Lindsay Schutzler scored pinch runner Caitlin Ryan with the lone run of the contest.
Tennessee (43-5, 11-2 SEC) saw several scoring opportunities slip away as it stranded seven baserunners in the game.
The second game was more of the same with another dominating Lady Vol pitching performance and slow going at the plate for Tennessee as it rode the arm of freshman Megan Rhodes to a 3-0 victory.
“Monica and Megan both pitched extremely well for us,” Weekly said.
Rhodes (10-3) struck out nine Eagles while only allowing two hits and one walk in five innings of work before giving way to Abbott in the sixth.
Abbott retired Tennessee Tech (17-23) in order in the sixth and seventh to pick up her second save of the season.
The Lady Vols didn’t wait as long in the second game to light up the scoreboard as they took an early 1-0 lead in the first inning. Schutzler opened the game with a leadoff double and scored on Katherine Card’s RBI single to left.
But Schutzler, the offensive hero of game one, left the game in the bottom of the first after being spiked in the face while applying a tag on TTU shortstop Beth Boden.
“We don’t know the extent of Schutzler’s injury yet,” Weekly said. “That will be up to the medical staff to determine.
“We obviously missed her presence at the top of the lineup in game two. However, Lindsay told us she’d be ready to play very quickly.”
The sophomore shortstop joins a crowded Lady Vol injury list. Junior outfielder Sarah Fekete (broken jaw) and freshman catcher Shannon Doepking (concussion) both sat out Tuesday’s doubleheader.
Brock picked up her first career home run in the seventh with a shot to deep center, and Kortney Bell gave the Lady Vols their final 3-0 margin as she scored on a Stacey Jennings RBI single.
Tennessee returns to conference play this weekend with a three-game series at Auburn.