Three UT errors permit four unearned runs to score for the Tide
For the second straight contest, No. 6 Alabama (29-4, 9-0 SEC) rallied from a deficit to register a victory over No. 2 Tennessee (27-4, 2-4 SEC) in front of a large crimson-clad crowd of 1,243 at the UA Softball Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Down 3-1 to the Lady Vols, ‘Bama scored four times in the fifth and once in the sixth to take a 6-3 win and sweep the three-game Southeastern Conference series. Ironically, the last three-game blanking suffered by UT was in the last trip to face Alabama over March 13-14, 2004.
Junior Monica Abbott dropped her third straight contest to fall to 17-3 on the campaign. The Salinas, Calif., native allowed six runs, only two earned, and nine hits while striking out seven in six innings of work. Senior catcher Kristi Durant led UT’s nine-hit offensive attack with a 2-for-3, two-RBI performance. Senior center fielder Sarah Fekete delivered three hits in four at-bats, and junior left fielder India Chiles registered a pair of singles in
“On these two days, in their stadium, Alabama was better than us,” said Lady Vol co-head coach Ralph Weekly. “Our kids fought hard, but Alabama got the timely hits and the key runs. Both Karen (co-head coach Weekly) and I were proud of the effort of our players this weekend.
The Lady Vols looked to get something going quickly against Alabama’s pitcher Stephanie VanBrakle in the top of the first as Fekete led-off the frame by grounding a high-hopper back to the pitcher and beating out the throw to first. With two down following a UT strikeout and pop out, Durant ripped a hard shot up the middle to grant the Big Orange base runners at first and second. Sophomore first baseman Tonya Callahan came through with a clutch two-out RBI by blooping a base hit to center field to score Fekete from second for UT’s first run of the contest.
Similar to Saturday’s doubleheader when the Crimson Tide always seemed to have an immediate answer to each Lady Vol scoring outburst, Alabama’s VanBrakle ripped a two-out offering from Abbott deep over the left field wall in the bottom of the first inning for her third home run of the season to knot the score at 1-1. UA shortstop Dominique Accetturo singled through the left side of the infield, but Abbott struck out third baseman Staci Ramsey to end the frame.
Neither team mounted a serious threat in the second inning as UT went one-two-three, and the Tide garnered only a two-out walk off Abbott. UA left fielder Mandy Burford popped out harmlessly behind first base as UT second baseman Liane Horiuchi raced over to make the catch and conclude the frame.
Fekete christened a rally by leading off the top of the third with a hard base knock up the middle of a drawn-in infield to make it a perfect 2-of-2 on the day for the Maryville, Tenn., product. Chiles followed by chopping a high bouncer over third baseman Ramsey’s head to reach safely and grant UT runners at first and second with no outs. Schutzler grounded into a fielder’s choice back to the pitcher to cut down Fekete at third on a close play. Chiles and Schutzler pulled off a double steal to advance 60 feet and each scored on a clutch two-RBI single up the middle by Durant for a 3-1 lead. The Placentia, Calif., native ended up at third on the play as the throw attempting to cut
down Schutzler went to the plate. UA catcher Ashley Holcombe was run over by
UT’s shortstop while standing in the base line to allow the ball to roll to the back stop. Horiuchi grounded out sharply to short to end the inning with Tennessee staked to a two-run advantage.