Despite soggy conditions and numerous rain delays Saturday at the CCU Softball Stadium in Conway, S.C., the No. 3-ranked Tennessee Lady Vol softball team improved its record to a perfect 3-0 with an 8-0 (five inn.) victory over Coastal Carolina behind the fourth career perfect game from junior pitcher Monica Abbott. The Salinas, Calif., native struck out 10 while facing the minimum 15 Lady Chanticleer batters.
Offensively, senior third baseman Kristi Durant led the hitting attack with a 2-for-3, two-RBI effort, while junior shortstop Lindsay Schutzler and senior center fielder Sarah Fekete each delivered a 1-for-2, RBI, run scored performance.
“This game was played in damp conditions, but our kids rose to the occasion and played very hard,” said Lady Vol co-head coach Ralph Weekly. “Monica Abbott pitched well, and we got key hits from Durant and Schutzler in RBI situations. It was a good team effort overall for our squad.”
With one out in the top of the first inning, Fekete and Durant each laced singles to shortstop to place UT runners at first and second. Sophomore first baseman Tonya Callahan reached on a fielder’s choice that cut down Durant at second. With runners at the corners, senior right fielder Katherine Card grounded a ball out in front of the plate. Coastal Carolina catcher Glynn Tolleson hopped up from behind the dish, fielded the ball cleanly and delivered a throw that pulled the first baseman off the bag for an error. On the play, Fekete raced home with Tennessee’s first run.
Abbott registered a pair of strikeouts in the bottom half of the first to bring UT back to the plate in the second inning where Tennessee mounted a two-out rally to take a 3-0 lead. Freshman second baseman Liane Horiuchi was hit by a pitch, Schutzler drew a walk and Fekete also got hit by the Coastal Carolina pitcher to load the bases and bring up Tennessee’s all-time leading hitter, Durant. She promptly delivered a clutch single through the left side of the infield to plate Horiuchi and Schutzler.
That was all Abbott would need as she closed out the victory and registered her 11th career no-hitter and fourth career perfect game.
Sophomore pitcher Megan Rhodes picked up her initial victory of the season on Saturday by throwing 6.2 innings of four-hit ball with 10 K’s. The Lady Vols got the offense from junior left fielder India Chiles who went 2-of-2 at the plate with four RBI, freshman third baseman Jennifer Griffin who drove in the first two RBI of her career and Fekete who went 3-for-4.
The first game of the Lady Vols season took extra innings and ventured into the international tiebreaker but Tennessee picked up a victory with a 1-0, eight-inning win over Illinois State in the opener of the Coastal Carolina Tournament
Abbott allowed just one hit while striking out 18 for her 62nd career game with 10 K’s or more, while Fekete delivered a 2-for-4 performance with a clutch RBI single in the eighth inning.