It was a record-setting afternoon for Tennessee catcher Kristi Durant Sunday. The senior knocked in the 192nd run of her career to break former Alabama All-American and U.S. Olympian Kelly Kretschman’s career Southeastern Conference mark (191), as UT swept the series from Arkansas with a 6-0 victory at Lady’Back Yard in Fayetteville, Ark.
“Karen [co-head coach Weekly] and I are really proud of the way our student-athletes persevered through a tough series against Arkansas this weekend,” Lady Vol co-head coach Ralph Weekly said. “This culminated a difficult stretch where we played nine games in eight days in three different states. Each and every member of this team contributed to our victories. It was a total team effort.”
Junior pitcher Monica Abbott picked up the victory to improve her mark to 23-3 on the campaign by allowing four hits in seven shutout innings with eight strikeouts. With 118 career wins, she currently stands just two wins from equaling former LSU hurler Britni Sneed’s record for SEC career triumphs (120).
Junior left fielder Lindsay Schutzler led the offense with a 2-for-5, two-RBI effort while senior center fielder Sarah Fekete was 2-for-4 at the dish. Durant, sophomore first baseman Tonya Callahan and senior right fielder Katherine Card each knocked in a run in the match-up.
The Lady Vols got on the scoreboard in the top of the third inning as Fekete slapped a ball to third for a single with one down. Following a flyout to left by Durant, Fekete plated the game’s initial tally as Callahan ripped a shot down the line into the left field corner for a double to make it 1-0. Card followed by driving a ball up the middle to score Callahan for a 2-0 advantage.
With one down in the top of the sixth inning, Schutzler drilled a double down the left field line that caromed off the third-base bag and into foul territory. With a golden opportunity to establish a new SEC career RBI mark, Durant made league history with a long drive over the head of O’Malley in deep center to plate Schutzler for the 192nd RBI of her career. UT picked up a valuable insurance run in taking a 3-0 advantage.
The Lady’Backs attempted to rally back into the contest in the bottom of the sixth as a lead-off single and a Tennessee fielding error granted Arkansas runners at first and second with one down. Abbott got the batter to pop out to the shortstop and induced a fielder’s choice ground ball to close out the scoring opportunity and maintain the Lady Vols’ three-run lead.
In the top of the seventh, Tennessee added several valuable insurance tallies as Liane Horiuchi christened the attack by getting struck by a pitch for the 10th time this season. Kenora Posey followed with a slap single down the left field line to make it a pair of baserunners for the Tennessee.
India Chiles hit a routine grounder back to the pitcher, but Arkansas threw the ball away at first for an error to allow Horiuchi to score and make it 4-0. That miscue allowed the seventh inning floodgates to open for Tennessee once again as Schutzler lined a two-RBI single into shallow left to boost the advantage to six runs.
Down to their last chance in the bottom half of the seventh, Arkansas’ Kayla Johnson drove her second hit of the contest off Abbott into left field to give UA a base runner. Blaire Perry sacrificed the runner up 60 feet with a ground ball to third that Jennifer Griffin handled easily. Tennessee’s two-time All-American ended any thoughts of a sustained rally by striking out Meagan Harney and inducing a flyout to end the contest and bestow Tennessee its 33rd win of the campaign.