Lady Vol senior right fielder Katherine Card hammered her second home run of the season, and sophomore first baseman Tonya Callahan knocked in a pair of runs as No. 5 Tennessee (29-4, 4-4 SEC) completed a sweep of its series-opening doubleheader against Kentucky (14-18, 2-12 SEC) in Lexington, Ky., with a 4-0 win Wednesday.
Sophomore Megan Rhodes started in the circle for the Lady Vols allowing just one hit and striking out four in an effective 3.1 innings of work. Junior Monica Abbott picked up the victory in relief with 3.2 innings of perfect work to improve to 19-3 on the campaign.
Senior designated player Kristi Durant completed the doubleheader versus Kentucky with 188 career RBI. Durant currently stands just four RBI short of breaking former Alabama All-American and 2004 U.S. Olympic Gold Medalist Kelly Kretschman’s SEC career record of 191 RBI.
“A very important key to any season is to get wins when you aren’t clicking on all cylinders,” Lady Vol coach Karen Weekly said. “Both Ralph (co-head coach Ralph Weekly) and I thought our kids found a way to win against a tough Kentucky team. The fact that we had 20 hits combined in the two games today was a big positive.”
After a quiet first inning for both teams, senior right fielder Katherine Card led off the top of the second inning by adding her own brand of fireworks to the festivities by driving a home run deep over the center field wall off Kentucky pitcher Jessica Trueblood for a 1-0 UT lead.
Kentucky finally got a hit off Rhodes with one out in the bottom of the fourth as center fielder Megan Miller took advantage of a UT shift to rip a double past Tennessee’s drawn-in infield and outfield. The Lady Vol coaching staff made a call to the bullpen to summon junior hurler Monica Abbott, and the move paid immediate dividends as the two-time All-American coerced a pair of ground outs to end any UK thoughts of scoring.
Trueblood retired the opening two batters in the top of the fifth but walked Durant to grant UT a scoring opportunity. Tennessee took immediate advantage as Callahan drove a double to right field to score the runner from first for a 2-0 lead. Katherine Card followed with an RBI single to second base to plate Callahan and improve the Lady Vol advantage to three runs.
Sarah Fekete keyed a seventh-inning rally with a perfectly executed slap double down the left field line. Fekete was moved up 60 feet on a sacrifice bunt by Durant and scored an important insurance run for the Lady Vols on a sacrifice fly to left by Callahan to make it 4-0.
In the bottom of the seventh, Abbott struck out Meghan Cooper for her fifth punch out of the game and induced a pair of groundouts to end the contest. By working 3.2 innings of relief, UT’s left-hander picked up her 19th win of the season.