Jan. 18, 2011
By Brian Davis, Assistant Media Relations Director
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Just one year removed from signing the nation's top-rated collegiate softball recruiting class, Tennessee co-head coaches Ralph and Karen Weekly have followed up on that success by pulling in what ESPN RISE has deemed the No. 2 contingent in the country for 2011.
Composed of a trio of student-athletes, including pitcher/infielders Cheyanne Tarango and Haley Fagan as well as catcher/infielder Hannah Akamine, the Lady Vols ranked second out of a stellar group that included five Pacific 10 schools, three Southeastern Conference programs and single members of both the Big 10 and Big 12.
"Karen and I are extremely happy with the athletes that comprise our 2011 recruiting class," Lady Vol co-head coach Ralph Weekly said. "We are certain that they will be exceptional student-athletes during their time at Tennessee and will help our team become even better."
A native of Escondido, Calif., Hannah Akamine is the third of a trio of sisters to play collegiate softball, joining her siblings former Arizona pitcher Sarah Akamine and current Penn State pitcher/utility player Lisa Akamine. Having played at catcher, shortstop and in the outfield during her interscholastic career, she has recorded stat totals of .306 with seven RBIs as a freshman and .389 with five HR's and 20 RBI during her sophomore campaign at Escondido H.S. She was injured during her junior season in 2010. For her stellar efforts during the `09 season, Akamine was chosen by the San Diego Hall of Champions to its 2009 Breitbard Athletic Association All-California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) San Diego Section Second Team. Having played 16-U and 18-U Gold ball for the San Diego Legacy, Akamine helped guide her squad to a pair of Amateur Softball Association (ASA) Nationals appearances (2008, 2009) with a ninth-place finish in 2009. She chose to come to Tennessee from among a list of schools that included Hawai'i, Penn State and Alabama, claiming that being a Lady Vol has been her dream since she was eight years old.
An in-state product out of Cornersville, Tenn., Haley Fagan has been a two-sport standout in both softball and basketball at Cornersville H.S. The 6-0 right handed pitcher/first baseman helped lead her high school program to back-to-back third-place finishes at both the 2008 and 2009 Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA) Class A State Girls' Softball Tournaments as well as consecutive TSSAA Sectional and Region 6-A titles (2008 & 2009) and three straight District 11-A championships (2008, 2009, 2010). Fagan, who owns 29 career pitching wins and an earned run average of 1.25, picked up numerous honors following her junior campaign in 2010, including selections to the Middle Tennessee Softball Coaches Association All-Mid State First Team and nods as both TSSAA All-District 11-A and as the District 11-A Most Valuable Player. As a member of Tennessee Fury Gold, Fagan participated in both the ASA Gold and ESPN/RISE Premier High School Division National Tournaments in 2010. Previously in Gold action, she helped Team Worth to the 2009 ASA 16-U National Tournament and to a national championship victory at the 2009 American Fastpitch Association Nationals. On the hardwood, she has been equally honored, being chosen as 2009 & 2010 TSSAA All-District 11-A and All-Region 6-A while helping Cornersville to consecutive District 11-A basketball crowns in 2009 and 2010. She helped her squad to the 2009 TSSAA Region 6-A and Sectional titles on the way to Murfreesboro, Tenn., and the initial Tennessee State Class A Girls' Basketball Tournament appearance in her school's history. She was also a U-16 Tennessee State basketball runner-up and participated in the AAU Nationals in Orlando, Fla., with the Moore County AAU in 2009.
A highly decorated player out Anaheim Hills, Calif., Cheyanne Tarango ventures to Tennessee with an impressive list of accolades in tow. Most recently, she joined current Lady Vol freshman Madison Shipman as a member of the USA Softball Junior Women's National Team that posted a perfect 9-0 mark on the way to a gold medal finish at the III Pan American Championship in Bogota, Colombia, over Aug. 6-15, 2010. During the U.S. squad's dominant run, Tarango scored a pair of runs, knocked in three RBIs and recorded the win from the circle by firing three innings of three-hit pitching work with a trio of K's as the Red, White & Blue drilled Mexico, 15-3 (6 inn.), in pool play. A 2010 ESPN/RISE Third Team All-American, 2010 National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) High School First Team All-West Region selection and one of the 2010 "Top Five Softball Players in Orange County," at Canyon H.S., Tarango has also been tabbed as All-State, All-CIF, All-Orange County and All-Century League following all three years of her high school career (2008, 2009, 2010). As a junior in 2010, Tarango hit .413 at the dish with five HR's and 17 RBIs while posting a 20-7-1 mark from the circle with a 0.70 ERA and 219 K's. She hit .366 with seven HR's and 22 RBIs as a sophomore in 2009 with a 24-8 pitching mark, a 1.08 ERA and 234 strikeouts. During her rookie season at Canyon, Tarango went 22-8 from the circle with a 1.57 ERA and 290 K's while tallying a .357 average with four big flies and 21 RBIs. She was honored as the Century League Most Valuable Player (one of two such selections in her career - 2009 & 2010) in helping lead her high school squad to the 2009 league title and was named event MVP as Canyon registered a perfect 5-0 record on the way to the 2008 Cypress Tournament Championship. She also picked up three consecutive all-tournament nods at both the Nike Fast to First and Michele Carew Classics. In her most recent Gold action, playing the last two summers with the Worth Firecrackers, Tarango was a part of back-to-back Fireworks Colorado 18-U Gold & Canada Cup 18-U Gold titlists while helping her squad to a third-place finish at the 2009 ASA Gold Nationals. She picked Tennessee from a list of schools that included California, UCLA and Notre Dame.
Top Ten ESPN/RISE Recruiting Classes in 2011
7. Arizona State