STANFORD, Calif. - The zeros on the scoreboard just keep coming. The University of Tennessee softball team completed a two-game sweep of the Stanford Cardinal with a 6-0 victory Saturday afternoon to move on to its first Women's College World Series in school history.
With the blanking, the Lady Vols have now shut out 48 opponents on the season to set an NCAA Division I record, replacing the 1997 UCLA Bruins on top of the list.
Sophomore pitcher Monica Abbott tossed the complete-game shutout, her fifth in a row in the NCAA Tournament and her 31st of the season, tied for the second-highest total in history. In her last 95.1 innings of work, she has allowed just one run and 28 hits.
With the win, Tennessee now has 64 on the season, tied for the eighth-highest total in Division I history. The record of 67 is co-held by the 1999 Illinois-Chicago club and the 1998 Arizona Wildcats. The Lady Vols have won 16 of their last 18, including shutout victories in all five NCAA Tournament games.
The Lady Volunteers put the contest away with a five-run outburst in the third. With one out, junior centerfielder Sarah Fekete faked a bunt and swung away, dropping the ball in front of the Cardinal rightfielder for a single. Junior third baseman Kristi Durant followed with a hard single to center, and Tonya Callahan put UT on the scoreboard with a high bouncer which bounded into center field as Fekete rounded third and crossed home plate.
Katherine Card followed with a sharp liner right through the pitcher's legs and into center field to load the bases with one out. Shannon Doepking then battled through a seven-pitch at-bat before hitting a liner to the second baseman, who dropped the ball accident and then threw to second, but the shortstop pulled off the bag while attempting to turn two and everybody moved up the base and UT took a 2-0 lead.
After a strikeout, Posey reached when the second baseman threw the ball on a bounce to first that could not be handled. Callahan scored on the play and UT extended its lead to 3-0. Freshman pinch hitter Natalie Brock singled in the fourth and fifth runs with a hard-hit ball to left center, scoring Card and Doepking.
The rest of the game went pretty quietly as neither team would garner a hit with the exception of the Tennessee half of the sixth. With one out, Lindsay Schutzler beat out a bunt single, was sacrificed to second by Fekete and scored on an RBI single to center by Durant.
The final out came on a running, back-handed sliding catch by Card as she hit the ground, crossing into foul territory.
Tennessee will now move on to the Women's College World Series and will take on Arizona at 1 p.m. Thursday in Oklahoma City. The contest will be telecast live by espn2.