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Lady Flames Drop Two To Second-Ranked Tennessee
Monica Abbott struck out 14 batters in a six inning 8-0 win in the first game, while second-ranked Tennessee completed a doubleheader sweep with a 9-1 second game victory over Liberty, Thursday afternoon, at Tyson Park.
With the two losses, the Lady Flames fall to 21-10 on the year, but Liberty still ends the first half of its season with the second best start to a year in school history.
In the first game, the Lady Vols wasted little time as Tennessee jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the fifth inning as Sarah Fekete slapped one through the left side of the infield. After moving to second on a stolen base, Fekete scored on a RBI base hit back up the middle by Kristi Durant, while Tonya Callahan followed with her fifth home run of the year as her two-run homer to straightaway center field gave the Lady Vols a 3-0 lead.
Tennessee added to its lead in the second with back-to-back RBI singles by Lindsay Schutzler and Sarah Fekete, while the Lady Vols continued to increase their lead with a RBI single up the middle by Liane Horiuchi that scored pinch runner Lillian Hammond to give the Lady Vols a 5-0 lead.
Schutzler started a two-out rally in the fourth inning with her fifth triple of the year, while two batters later, Durant drove her in with a RBI single to right field.
Monica Abbott was perfect through four innings with 11 strikeouts, but she was pulled before the start of the fifth inning and replaced by Danielle Pieroni who proceeded to load the bases with a single by Ashley Williams and two walks in the first three batters she faced.
Abbott was brought back in to halt the potential rally and did so by striking out three-consecutive batters. In the top of the sixth inning, Liberty's Beth Bennett did something that no batter had accomplished in the last 23 2/3 innings as the freshman first baseman got a hit off of Abbott with a single to center field to account for Liberty's other hit of the contest.
The Lady Vols finished the game in the bottom of the sixth inning as Fekete doubled down the left field line and after an infield single by Durant, Tonya Callahan ended the game with a single down the third base line to give Tennessee the 8-0 win.
Abbott picked up the victory as she allowed just one hit in six innings of work, while striking out 14 batters to up her record to 17-0 on the season.
Sarah Swor suffered the loss as she allowed five runs on five hits in 1 2/3 innings of work, before Sarah Ellis finished off the last 3 2/3 innings of effective relief by scattering seven hits and allowing three additional runs.
In the second game, the Lady Flames took the lead in the top of the second inning as Shannon McKain connected on a solo home run to straightaway center field to account for her second homer of the year and give Liberty a 1-0 lead.
However, the Lady Vols struck back in the fifth inning with six hits, while an infield error extended the inning and allowed Tennessee to score five unearned runs. Katherine Card started the inning with a single to right field, while a grounded ball by Horiuchi was fielded by Sarah Love, but the ball sailed out of the third baseman's hand on her throw to first to keep the inning alive.
And Tennessee took full advantage of the extra opportunity as Schutzler and Durant drove in runs with RBI singles, while India Chiles added a RBI double to cap off the five-run inning.
Natalie Brock led off the third inning with a single up the middle, while she was pinch ran for by Alicia Brown who eventually scored on a wild pitch to give the Lady Vols a 6-1 lead.
The score remained the same until the fifth inning as Tennessee put the game away with three more runs on two hits as Durant drove in Jennifer Griffin and pinch runner Caitlyn Ryan, while Brock drove in the decisive run with a single up the middle to plate Schutzler and end the game.
Megan Rhodes upped her record to 10-1 on the year as she allowed on run on three hits, while striking out 10 batters in a complete-game effort.
Terra Lowe suffered the loss as she allowed five unearned runs on eight hits in two innings of work, while Ellis once again was effective by allowing one run on three hits in 2 1/3 innings of action.
Dawn Jeffs, Bennett and McKain finished the game 1-for-2, while McKain added a RBI and a run scored on the solo homer.
The Lady Flames have a few days off before they return to the softball diamond as Liberty will return to action on April 1 when they host North Carolina A&T to start a five-game homestand. The non-conference doubleheader is scheduled to start at 1 p.m.