Jan. 23, 2013
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- As the start of the 2013 season approaches, the Tennessee softball team has been practicing game situations to test on-the-fly decision making. "We're about 16 days away and every practice is a key practice," co-head coach Ralph Weekly said. "We try to challenge them with all kinds of situations in practice - running to first and third, pickoffs, cutoffs, stealing bases. The attitude is pretty good."
Tennessee, which was ranked No. 6 in the USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 Preseason Poll on Tuesday, returns a defense that ranked first in the nation with a .982 fielding percentage.
AKAMINE CONTINUES TO SHINE BEHIND THE PLATE
Sophomore catcher Hannah Akamine has looked sharp throughout the first two weeks of practice. With each practice, she has continued to progress with her decision making on balls played short and throws to second.
The Escondido, Calif., native hails from strong softball pedigree as her older sisters Sarah and Lisa were pitchers at Arizona and Penn State, respectively. Akamine played in 35 contests last season with 18 starts. She and rookie Lexi Overstreet are the Lady Vols' two backstops.
Tennessee is scheduled to play 19 regular season games against teams that are either ranked or receiving votes in the USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 Preseason Poll.
At the Red Desert Classic, the Lady Vols will face a BYU squad that is receiving votes on Feb. 9. At the USF 4 Team Tournament, UT will play No. 12 USF (a 2012 Women's College World Series Team) on Feb. 16 with a chance to play the Bulls again in either the semifinals or finals of the tournament.
Tennessee has a tough doubleheader on Feb. 22 in the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic, facing a Northwestern team that is receiving votes and No. 19 UCLA.
The Lady Vols' 2013 SEC schedule features three-game series against No. 1 and defending national champion Alabama (March 8-10), No. 14 Florida (March 15-17), No. 17 Texas A&M (March 22-24), No. 9 Georgia (April 5-7) and No. 8 Missouri (May 3-5).