Junior outfielder Kat Dotson
Jan. 24, 2012
By Brian Davis, Assistant Media Relations Director
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - After registering 49 wins, winning the program's second Southeastern Conference Tournament title and earning a No. 14 national seeding in the annual NCAA Tournament in 2011, the Tennessee Lady Vol softball squad will begin the 2012 campaign ranked No. 9 in the preseason via the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll and No. 14 according to the USA Today/National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) rankings.
The Southeastern Conference is well represented as the Big Orange is joined by fellow league schools (ratings listed as NFCA/USA Softball) Florida (#2/4), Alabama (#3/2), Georgia (#10/12), Kentucky (#13/18) and LSU (#22/tied for 20). The SEC Eastern Division boasts three of the top 12 squads in all of NCAA Division I according to USA Softball and four of the top 14 in the NFCA listing.
Tennessee is slated to face four of the eight participants in last year's Women's College World Series (defending national champion and preseason No. 1 Arizona State, Alabama, Florida and California), six `11 NCAA Super Regional squads and 16 teams that received berths into last year's NCAA Field of 64. The Lady Vols will play at least one game against each of the preseason top four squads and have at least 16 contests currently scheduled versus preseason top 25 programs during the 2012 regular season.
This year's edition of the Big Orange softball squad returns 15 letter-winners, including seven that started at least 31 games in 2011, and welcomes back all 49 pitching victories from the circle. UT bolsters that impressive depth with the addition of a high-profile class of four newcomers that was rated No. 2 in the nation for 2011 by ESPN RISE.
In all, Tennessee returns 74% of the total hits, 78% of the runs, 67% of the doubles, 75% of the triples, 68% of the home runs, 74% of the RBIs and 83% of the stolen bases from a team that reached as high as No. 3 in the national rankings while completing the 2011 season as the NCAA Division I's top offense by batting average (.348).
Included among the returnees for the Lady Vols are (2011 stat totals in parentheses): 2011 Louisville Slugger/NFCA First Team All-American and current USA Softball Senior Women's National Team member Lauren Gibson (Junior, 2B--2011 SEC batting champion counting SEC games only at .451, .420 avg., 13 doubles, eight HR's, 63 RBIs, 12-12 stolen bases), 2011 USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year Top 10 Finalist and Louisville Slugger/NFCA Second Team All-American Raven Chavanne (Junior, 3B/OF--2011 SEC batting champion counting all games, .455 avg., 90 hits, 66 runs scored, 33-36 stolen bases), 2011 Louisville Slugger/NFCA Third Team All-American Ellen Renfroe (Sophomore, P--45 appearances, 27 games started, 26-7 record, 1.50 ERA, 259 K's in 201.0 IP), 2011 USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year Top 25 Finalist and Louisville Slugger/NFCA All-Southeast Region selection Kat Dotson (Junior, OF--.401 avg., 73 hits, 54 runs scored, 10 HR's, 64 RBIs, 26-31 stolen bases), 2011 Southeastern Conference All-Freshman choice and recent USA Softball Junior Women's National Team member Madison Shipman (Sophomore, IF--.292 avg., eight doubles, five HR's, 27 RBIs), power-hitting utility player Shelby Burchell (Senior, UTL--.325 avg., 15 HR's, 54 RBIs) and 2010 Louisville Slugger/NFCA All-Southeast Region selection Ivy Renfroe (Junior, P--37 appearances, 25 games started, 19-4 record, 2.07 ERA, 157 Ks in 152.1 IP).
Highlighting the Lady Vol freshman class are Cheyanne Tarango (P/IF, Anaheim Hills, Calif.), Hannah Akamine (C/IF, Escondido, Calif.,), Haley Fagan (P/IF, Cornersville, Tenn.) and Hannah Trainer (IF, Brentwood, Tenn.). Tarango recently helped the USA Softball Junior Women's National Team to the ISF Junior Women's World Championship in Cape Town, South Africa, blasting a game-winning grand slam during a title-winning, 4-1 victory over Japan.
Tennessee is currently prepping for its season opener slated for 4:30 p.m. MT on Thurs., Feb. 9, against UCSB at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz.
ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25
2012 Season - Pre-season - January 24, 2012
1. Arizona State (19)
4. Florida (1)
15. Texas A&M
T16. Oklahoma State
23. Georgia Tech
25. Notre Dame
Parenthesis denotes first place votes.
Others receiving votes: Syracuse (37); Ohio State (18); Tulsa (15); BYU (8); North Carolina (8); DePaul (6); San Diego State (6); Texas Tech (6); Auburn (3); Fresno State (3); South Florida (3); Florida State (2); Lipscomb (2); Louisville (2); Northwestern (2); Fordham (1); Massachusetts (1); UNLV (1)
2012 USA TODAY/NFCA Pre-Season Poll - Jan. 24
1 Arizona St. (30)
11 Oklahoma St.
17 Texas A&M
Parenthesis denotes first place votes.
Others Receiving Votes: DePaul 23, Syracuse 18, Georgia Tech 17, Notre Dame 12, Fresno St. 10, East Carolina 8, Hawai`i 7, Hofstra 7, San Diego St. 6, North Carolina 5, Texas Tech 5, Florida St. 2, Massachusetts 2, BYU 1, Fordham 1, New Mexico St. 1.