KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee softball greats Monica Abbott and Lindsay Schutzler were named to the Salinas Valley Sports Hall of Fame 2020 class, the committee announced recently. As part of the 10-member class, Abbott and Schutzler will be honored at a banquet tentatively on Aug. 29., at the Salinas Storm House in Salinas, Calif.
Both Abbott (Santa Cruz, Calif.), who is a current member of Team USA’s 2020 Olympic Team, and Schutzler (Monterey, Calif.) finished their time on Rocky Top as part of one of the most successful stretches in program history with three consecutive trips to the Women’s College World Series from 2005 through 2007. The California natives amassed a 246-51 record in their four seasons (2004-07) donning the Orange & White and collecting a deluge of honors along the way.
“Growing up as an athlete in the Salinas Valley was incredible,” Abbott said. “I can remember getting the high school sports coverage, and seeing things like the Olympic Flame or watching the Peppers play.
“This area loves their sports and in a sense it’s not only a hot bed for ‘Lettuce and Vegetables’, but it’s also a hot bed to develop athletes. I’m very proud to be considered one of the athletes worthy of the SV Hall of Fame.”
Schuztler expressed surprise about her induction saying: “I am thankful to be recognized for the years of hard work and dedication I put in to perfecting my craft. I appreciate the friendships and experiences softball has brought into my life and it feels like a bonus to be called a Hall of Famer for competing in a sport I love.”
Abbott holds the NCAA record in career strikeouts (2,440), innings pitched (1,448.0), victories (189) and starts (206). The Lady Vol great, who owns nearly every UT pitching record and is a four-time All-American and the 2007 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year, was scheduled to make her second appearance at the Olympics this summer, before the IOC announced the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics due to the coronavirus pandemic.
A three-time All-American, Schutzler finished an extremely decorated career at Tennessee setting a slew of program records for career (20) and single-season (8) triples, career hits (362) and total games played (296) among others. Equally impressive away from the diamond, Schutzler was a two-time winner of the CoSIDA Academic All-American of the Year, the SEC Scholar Athlete of the Year in 2007 and a finalist for the prestigious Senior CLASS Award in ’07. She also earned a gold medal as a member of the USA Softball team at the 2006 World University Games in Taiwan.
“Ralph and I congratulate both Monica and Lindsay on their most deserving induction into the Salinas Valley Hall of Fame,” said co-head coach Karen Weekly. “We have fond memories of recruiting them as high school standouts and local rivals in the Salinas Valley. They were pioneers in the history of Lady Vol softball who believed in the vision we had for this program and wanted to blaze a new trail.
“Along with several other players from that era, they created a championship culture and put Tennessee softball on the map nationally, beginning a streak of sixteen consecutive NCAA post-season appearances.
“You can’t talk about the tradition and legacy of Lady Vol softball without the names Abbott and Schutzler. Not only were they tremendous student-athletes but both are outstanding alumni who continue to make great contributions to sport and in their respective communities. We are incredibly proud of them.”
Before their time in Big Orange Country, Abbott and Schutzler were prep school stars at rival high schools dueling it out on diamonds out west. They had a brief stint as 12U teammates before they were secondary school opponents with Abbott leading North Salinas to a pair of Central Coast Section softball titles, while Schutzler led the charge at Notre Dame High School in her hometown.
“Having the opportunity to play college softball at Tennessee together I was grateful to finally be on the same team as her,” Abbott said of Schutzler. “It’s an honor to be recognized together. Lindsay and I had so much fun playing for the Magic, but, eventually, though we became high school rivals, and the battles were always epic.”
Schutzler said that playing against Abbott was always a challenge.
“Not only is she a great pitcher, but she has always had an insatiable desire to be the best,” Schutzler added. “I believe that growing up playing with and against her made me better. Going into high school I knew I would have to face her, and it was always the biggest game of the year.”
Once they were teammates again the rivalry transformed into a bond.
“Being Monica’s teammate at Tennessee was a privilege,” Schutzler. “Not only were we classmates and friends, but I always felt confident that when she took the mound we were going to win. I have incredible respect for Monica and I am excited to share this honor with her.
“Being inducted means more to me knowing that I will be standing alongside one of my former teammates and one of our sport’s greatest players.”