ABBOTT MAKES DEBUT WITH 15 STRIKEOUTS FOR TENNESSEE DIAMONDS
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (June 11, 2010) _ The debut of left-hander Monica Abbott for the Tennessee Diamonds proved to be just the tonic the team needed to get on the winning track.
The Diamonds scored in the first inning and Abbott kept the Akron Racers off the scoreboard Friday night in a 1-0 win in National Pro Fastpitch play at Draper Diamond on the campus of Lipscomb University.
“The crowd was so enthusiastic,” Diamonds coach Ernie Reynolds said. “It was nice to seen such an enthusiastic group cheering Monica on in her first game back in Tennessee.
“We knew our backs were against the wall in this series. Our thought was to win our first game and then start thinking about flipping this series. I think we can win this one 3-2.”
Abbott, the former University of Tennessee standout and U.S. Olympic team member, was a last minute decision to start the game.
“I had been waiting for this,” Abbott said. “I was ready to go.
“I was excited to be out there and be back in Tennessee. I saw a lot of orange out there and that was great.”
Abbott held the Racers to only two hits, both by left-handed hitter Micaela Minner, who singled in the fourth inning and doubled to left center to lead off the seventh.
The first seven outs Abbott recorded were strikeouts. She finished with 15 strikeouts. She credited catcher Shannon Doepking, who has been catching Abbott since their days at the University of Tennessee, for helping her be so effective.
“Akron has been hitting the ball well in this series,” Abbott said. “We just went after them. Shannon did a great job of working with me. She called a great game.”
Reynolds stressed that the performance by Abbott was an indication of her dedication to the game of softball.
“She reported in great shape,” Reynolds said. “I thought she got stronger as the game progressed. She was really strong in the fourth and fifth innings.”
The Diamonds are 1-2. Akron is 2-1. There were 354 fans at the game.
The Diamonds scored one run in the first inning as Akron starter Taryne Mowatt, a right-hander, struggled to find the plate. Carly Wynn walked. DeDe Justice drove a ground ball through the left side. Amanda Williams walked to load the bases. Chelsie Mesa then walked to bring Wynn home.
“We were pleased to be able to get a run in the first inning,” Reynolds said. “Our team came out on the field with great intensity. It was great to see them maintain it for the entire game.”
After Mesa’s at bat, Akron brought in right-hander Jamee Juarez to pitch. Mowatt lasted two-thirds of an inning. She allowed one run and two hits. She walked three.
Juarez went the rest of the way on the mound for the Racers, shutting down the Diamonds and not allowing a hit in 5.1 innings. She walked one and struck out three.
The Racers threatened in the seventh inning. Reynolds expected that would be the case as they led off with Minner’s double. Abbott refused to yield and ended the game when she caught a pop up. There were runners on first and third at the time.
“Monica really wanted that pop up,” Reynolds said. “She faced a strong part of Akron’s order in the seventh.”
The series with Akron continues Saturday night at 7. The home stand ends Sunday at 2 p.m.