Monica Abbott retired from the sport of softball as one of the most decorated softball players in history. College softball and beyond. Her name still saturates the NCAA record books and not too long ago, she was still pitching on the biggest of stages for USA Softball. Monica Abbott's name will forever be etched in softball history.
Her legendary career includes a record-setting career at Tennessee, two Olympic silver medals and four World Championships. Her No. 7 jersey was retired by the University of Tennessee on March 23, 2013.
Here's everything you need to know about Monica Abbot's college career at Tennessee.
Let's start with the Monica Abbott basics
Position: Left-handed pitcher
Years active: 2004-2007
WCWS appearances: 3
Career averages: .79 ERA, 2440 strikeouts, 1448 IP and .133 opponent batting average
What was Monica Abbott's record in college?
As you can see on the chart above, Abbott was 189-34 in her collegiate career. Those 189 wins leads the entire NCAA, still to this day.
What kind of prospect was Monica Abbott out of high school?
Abbott was certainly one of the most sought after high school pitchers in the nation ahead of her college career. She averaged more than 300 strikeouts per season as a prep star at North Salinas High School in Salinas, California. She won a plethora of awards while in high school, so many that it almost seems silly to list them all out. To name a few, she won Cal-Hi Softball Athlete of the Year, the Sports Focus Athlete of the Year and the California High School Sports Bay Area Player of the Year and Athlete of the Year. To go even further, she was on the 2002 Junior Women's National Team that participated in the inaugural Pan Am Junior Championships in Hermosillo, Mexico then went on to earn the Most Valuable Player award after throwing a one-hitter and notching 13 strikeouts in a 2-0 win over Canada for the gold medal (she also threw a perfect game against host Mexico). Her high school accolades go on and on and on. It only makes sense she was one of the top prospects in the nation.
What records did Monica Abbott set in college?
Abbott did not take long to start turning heads when she started out her freshman season at Tennessee. She very quickly became Tennessee's first softball All-American by being selected as a Louisville Slugger/NFCA First Team All-American in her first season. As we all probably know, she ended up setting a whole lot of records, and I don't mean for Tennessee, I mean NCAA records. She finished her college career ranked first in ALL of these categories:
- Leads the NCAA in games pitched in a season (69) in 2005
- Leads the NCAA with games pitched in her career with 235 games
- Leads in career games started with 206
- Leads the nation in innings pitched, 1,448 innings pitched from 2004-07
- Leads the NCAA in career victories with 189
- Leads the NCAA in career shutouts with 112
- And lastly, she leads the entire nation in strikeouts in a season and career, with 724 strikeouts her senior season, and 2,440 career strikeouts
- Only Player with four seasons of 40+ wins in a career
- Only Player with four 500-strikeout seasons (and two 600-strikeout seasons) in a collegiate career
Monica Abbott is THE NCAA strikeout queen.
What awards did Monica Abbott win in college?
If the list for awards was long in high school, I think you can imagine this list.
- Four-time NFCA All-America honors
- She became the first Tennessee softball player in history to do it all four years.
- 2004, 2005 and 2007 SEC Pitcher of the Year
- 2007 Honda Award for Softball
- 2007 Women's Sports Foundation Sportswoman of the Year
- 2007 Winner of the Roy F. Kramer SEC Female Athlete of the Year award.
- 2007 USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year award
- 2007 ESPY Finalist for Best Female Collegiate Athlete
Monica Abbott at the Women's College World Series
For one of the most decorated players in college softball history, it is absolutely astonishing that she did not win a national title. She did lead the Lady Vols to three consecutive Women's College World Series appearances (2005-07), with a runner-up finish in 2007. Abbott notched 10 wins in the circle in her three appearances at the WCWS. One of the most notable, was when Abbott registered her 700th strikeout in a shutout win over Arizona in Game 1 of the 2007 WCWS Finals. Abbott struck out the side in the second inning and got her 700th strikeout of the season, extending her own single-season strikeouts record with every K.
What was Monica Abbot's game like?
Abbott was a left-handed, hard-throwing pitcher in college. In 2020, Abbott re-watched her 700th strikeout at the 2007 WCWS, and her immediate reaction was to say "I threw the mess out of the ball ... throw it as hard as I can every pitch." She certainly did not hold back from throwing some heat during her college years — and obviously, it worked. But, Abbott noted how much she has grown as a professional since college. "The longer you play, the better you get," she said. Abbott said her form was unorthodox in college but she really loved it. It gave her a chance to take a deep breath. Looking back at it, she loved how it has changed over the years but also thinks it is so cool to see how what she is doing now started. Her current form is slightly different. She takes her time standing up and then goes to her low position after. Abbott got super lower before each pitch in college. You can take a look at her form in this video:
What did people say about Monica Abbott?
"By the time she releases it, she's like already halfway to you," said Natasha Watley, now a foe with the top-seeded USSSA Pride but also a teammate in Japan's professional league and formerly with Team USA. "Her speed and her movement, I think it's all of the above." (ESPN.com on Aug, 13, 2015)
"We could have made that statement years ago, that she is arguably the best pitcher," said Shannon Doepking, now the head coach at Dartmouth but formerly Abbott's catcher at both Tennessee and with the Bandits and other teams in NPF. "And then you watch her continue to improve and get better. To put up the numbers that she's putting up this season, I think it's just incredible." (ESPN.com on Aug, 13, 2015)
"She get's a lot of praise as she should, but I am hoping our hitters can come out and get on her and I can shut down the offense." — Taryne Mowatt, Arizona's starting pitcher ahead of their 2007 WCWS meeting. The headline of this article in the Tuscon Citizen on June 4, 2007 was "Cats must top Abbott to keep title"
"Monica has relied on speed for a long time, but pitchers pick up new tools all the time and she is realizing the importance of off-speed pitches." — Mike Candrea, The Daily Oklahoman, June 1, 2006
"I'm not going to root against her next season. But deep down, I'd like to keep the record. If she breaks it, it'll be in more innings. That's what I keep telling myself." — Cat Osterman, the former NCAA strikeout leader before Abbott broke it.
"They can run, they can hit, and they've got Monica Abbott. They're as balanced as they come." — Carol Hutchins, Michigan softball head coach in The Knoxville News-Sentinel on June 7, 2005
"I'm so proud of Monica, that was a gutsy performance." — Karen Weekly in the Knoxville News-Sentinel on June was 7, 2005
"We faced Monica Abbott today, and great pitching beats great hitting. She did a great job of controlling our hitters, and we just never had any opportunity to get anything going." — Winthrop coach Mark Cooke in the Knoxville News-Sentinel on May 21, 2007
"Monica's performance was even more superb. Her poise and confidence on the mound, her maturity... you can just see the focus in her eyes every game here." — Tennessee co-head coach Karen Weekly in The Daily Oklahoman on June 4, 2007 at the WCWS
"I'm just very proud of her. Monica is a once in a lifetime pitcher. We'll never see another like her." — Ken Gardner, Abbott's first pitching coach at the end of her collegiate career in The Californian on June 6, 2007
What are some quotes from Monica Abbott during her career?
'It would be a huge deal. It's a great record. But I'm just letting it linger in the back of my mind. If I let it come to the front, I think it will mess me up." — Abbot in the The Daily Oklahoman, June 1, 2006
"I love to get strikeouts, but it's a pitcher's job to make a hitter hit the ball badly. I've got good defenders behind me and I make the hitter hit a bad hit, we're going to get them out and that's all that matters." — Abbot in the The Daily Oklahoman, June 1, 2006
"Looking back, when I decided to come here it was because I could help develop the program and put it on the map. Get it to the point where it was like Tennessee football or women's basketball." — Abbott in the Knoxville News-Sentinel on May 18 2007. She mentioned she wouldn't have left her home in California if the softball program had already been a national powerhouse upon her arrival.
"I was like, how did (Peyton Manning) get my phone number? It was really exciting to get a phone call from such a great athlete, a former Tennessean, a Super Bowl MVP. Everybody loves Peyton Manning from Tennessee. He said good luck and that he's been watching us and is glad about the way we represent UT. I shared the phone call with the whole team. We were really excited." — Abbott after Manning called her at the 2007 WCWS. Daily Oklahoman, June 4, 2007