The No. 4 Tennessee Lady Vol softball team remained perfect by sweeping through the Louisville Slugger Desert Classic with a flawless 5-0 mark after demolishing the Hawaii Rainbow Wahine, 13-1 at Eller Media Stadium in Las Vegas, Nev., on Sunday evening.
With the victory, Tennessee outscored its Desert Classic opposition by a 49-5 count, forced run-rule games over Cal-Poly, Purdue and Kansas and have now totaled at least 10 runs in a game in four consecutive contests.
The 8-0 start for UT is the second-best in program history, following last year ‘s perfect 16-0 opening on its way to a berth in the Women’s College World Series.
“I’m proud of the team tonight and the way they continue to swing the bats,” said Lady Vol assistant coach Marty McDaniel. “We fed off the energy from yesterday when we run-ruled two quality opponents in Purdue and Kansas.
“I thought our speed game paid great dividends, and Sarah [Fekete], Kristi [Durant] and Lindsay [Schutzler] set the tone for the offense throughout tonight’s game. This weekend was a great learning experience for our group against solid opposition as we continue to build for the rest of the year.”
In the top of the first inning Tennessee registered an offensive threat as a single by senior center fielder Sarah Fekete and a walk to freshman first baseman Tonya Callahan granted the Lady Vols runners at first and second with two down. However, a pop fly to second base by freshman third baseman Jennifer Griffin ended the scoring opportunity.
Junior pitcher Monica Abbott allowed a single in the second inning, but Hawaii didn’t threaten to score the game’s first run until the bottom of the third frame. That’s when the Rainbow Wahine strung together a lead-off single by Tanisha Milca and a double by Audrey Andrade to grant UH a surprising 1-0 advantage.
In the top of the fifth, Tennessee’s offense finally awoke from its four-inning slumber in a big way to register six runs to take a 6-1 lead. Chiles christened the inning by singling to third base. Schutzler beat out a chopper back to the pitcher, and Fekete followed with an RBI single deep into the hole at short to score Chiles and equal the score at 1-1.
Senior designated player Kristi Durant and Callahan contributed RBI singles for a 3-1 advantage and rookie third baseman Jennifer Griffin doubled to right center to plate a pair and set the count at 5-1, UT. Senior right fielder Katherine Card concluded the outburst with a two-bagger to left to score Griffin for a 6-1 lead.
The Lady Vols added to their newfound advantage in the top of the sixth as Schutzler singled to center to christen the inning and moved to second on a sacrifice by Fekete. Durant singled and Callahan walked to load the bags for Griffin who lifted a sacrifice fly to left field to move UT in front 7-1.
In the top of the seventh inning, the game got completely out of hand as Tennessee’s offense registered another six runs on five hits for a 13-1 lead.
Outside of a double by UH’s Milca with one out in the fifth inning, Abbott settled down to close out her fifth complete game of the year. The junior from Salinas, Calif., now has a 5-0 mark in the circle with 62 K’s and a 0.44 ERA in 32 innings of work in 2006. She has allowed just eight hits total and is permitting opposing hitters to post a .076 batting average.