Abbott, Vols handle Gators


Florida's Lauren Roussell tags out Tennessee's Stacey Jennings attempting to steal second base.

TRACY WILCOX/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Friday, May 13, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, May 12, 2005 at 11:54 p.m.
Florida knew it couldn't afford to get into a hole against Tennessee in the opening round of the Southeastern Conference softball tournament Friday.
Not with Tennessee ace Monica Abbott in the circle.
Yet host Florida suffered a case of early jitters, with two errors leading to three first-inning Tennessee runs. The Gators never recovered, losing 4-0 to Tennessee at the Florida Softball Stadium.
Florida (41-20) dropped into the losers' bracket, where it will need to win against LSU today in order to avoid elimination. First pitch is 1:30 p.m.
"We don't really change anything right now," Florida coach Karen Johns said. "It's a game-by-game thing. We will not focus beyond the first inning of (today's) game."
The defensive meltdown in the first proved costly. Tennessee batted around, scoring its first run when Florida third baseman Stacie Pestrak fielded a bouncer by Sarah Fekete and sailed a throw high over first baseman Melissa Zick and down the right field line. Tennessee shortstop Lindsay Schultzer, who singled to lead off the game, scored all the way from first on the play. Fekete ended up on third and scored on a Kristi Durant sacrifice fly. Tennessee added its third run of the inning when Stacey Jennings walked with the bases loaded, after a walk, hit batsmen and error by Pestrak.
"We got off to a good lead and that probably took the crowd out of it a little bit," Tennessee co-coach Karen Weekly said. "I think it gave us a lot of confidence."
Abbott took care of the rest, limiting Florida to just an infield single by Lauren Roussell and a fister by Lacy Howard before Kristen Butler's two-out single in the seventh. Mandy Schuerman followed with a blooper to center that was caught on a diving snow-cone catch by Vols' center fielder Sarah Fekete to end the game.
Abbott (40-7) avenged her earlier trip to Gainesville four weeks ago, in which she gave up eight runs in a Florida three-game sweep of the Vols. It was Abbott's 25th shutout of the season and she has now tossed 45 scoreless innings.
"During the middle of the season everyone was struggling," Abbott said. "We're coming into this week with a whole different attitude and a whole different concept. We intend to be successful on and off the field."
Abbott struck out seven and walked none in firing the three-hit shutout. Of her 93 pitches, 65 were strikes.
"I know she likes to get more strikeouts, but as a coach you like to have those three-pitch at bats," Weekly said. "She was efficient."
Florida kept the game close with a pair of defensive gems in the second. Center fielder Lacy Howard and left fielder Lindsey Cameron threw out runners at the plate on consecutive plays.
But the Gators couldn't figure out Abbott, and the Vols (57-11) played errorless ball behind her.
"She got us out of our element a little bit, but we might have just been pressing after being down 3-0," Johns said. "We got better as the game progressed and we swung the bats well. Tennessee is a team that doesn't make a lot of errors, and Abbott did a good job of painting the inside corners and jamming us offensively."
You can reach Kevin Brockway by e-mail at brockwk@gvillesun.com or by calling 374-5054.

Must win AT A GLANCE

  • WHO: Florida vs. LSU.

  • WHEN: 1:30 p.m . today

  • WHERE: Florida Softball Stadium.

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