Jan. 29, 2014
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Tennessee seniors Ellen Renfroe and Madison Shipman have been named to the "Watch List" for the 2014 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award, as announced by the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America and USA Softball on Wednesday.
Tennessee softball has now had at least one player included on the organization's preseason "Watch List" in 11 consecutive seasons (2004-2014). This marks the eighth time in the last nine seasons that UT has had two or more players on the preseason Top 50 "Watch List" (2006-08, 2010-14). Renfroe and Shipman were both on the 2013 "Watch List" as well.
Over the last three years, Renfroe has established herself as one of the top pitchers in the nation and one of the greatest pitchers in Tennessee history. She has amassed a 72-17 record with a 1.52 ERA, 760 strikeouts, 29 shutouts, 54 complete games and two no-hitters over 130 appearances, 92 starts and 632.2 innings of work. She is a two-time NFCA All-American (2011, 2012), a three-time NFCA All-Region pick (2011-13) and a two-time Capital One Academic All-American. Renfroe was a Top 25 Finalist for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award in both 2012 and 2013. Renfroe went 19-5 with a 1.85 ERA and 221 strikeouts as a junior in 2013 and she is coming off an impressive performance in the Women's College World Series. She was electric in the circle in WCWS wins over Washington and Florida and put forth an incredible 11-inning, 13 strikeout performance in an instant classic against Oklahoma in Game 1 of the Championship Series. Primed and ready to go, Renfroe is geared up for a spectacular finish to her already incredible Tennessee career.
Shipman has made a name for herself as one of the most feared hitters and top defensive shortstops in the country. She is a two-time NFCA All-American and has hit .327 with 26 homers, 39 doubles, 153 RBIs, 121 runs and 45 stolen bases over the last three seasons. Shipman, who was also 2013 Capital One Academic All-American, is coming off a career-best junior season in which she hit. 367 with 11 homers, 20 doubles, 63 RBIs, 52 runs and 16 stolen bases. She was on the 2013 preseason "Watch List" and got stronger as the season progressed, earning First Team All-SEC accolades and WCWS All-Tournament Team honors. Like Renfroe, Shipman shined her brightest on the big stage of the World Series, hitting a three-run homer off Oklahoma's Keilani Ricketts in the top of the 11th of Game 1 of the Championship Series to give Tennessee the lead. Shipman is looking to pick up right where she left off and finish her outstanding Tennessee career with another big season at the plate.
In 2013, three Tennessee players stayed in the running for Player of the Year as the season progressed. Raven Chavanne was a Top 3 Finalist, Lauren Gibson was a Top 10 Finalist and Renfroe was a Top 25 Finalist.
Now in its 13th year, the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award, given by the National Governing Body for softball in the United States, is designed to recognize outstanding athletic achievement by female collegiate softball players across the country. Tennessee legendary pitcher Monica Abbott won the prestigious award in 2007.
The pre-season "Watch List" includes 24 seniors, 20 juniors and six sophomores, with freshman ineligible for consideration. (Freshman can be considered for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award once they have competed at the collegiate level.) Athletes named to the "Watch List" represent 36 NCAA Division I universities and 12 athletic conferences. Alabama, Arizona State and Oregon lead the way among universities with three athlete representatives each, and the Southeastern (SEC) Conference has the most member schools represented with seven.
The Top 25 Finalists for the 2014 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award will be announced April 9. While an athlete does not have to be on the "Watch List" to be considered for the Top 25, the eventual USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year will come from the Top 25 Finalists. The Top 10 Finalists will be announced May 7 and the Top 3 Finalists will be announced May 21. On May 27 prior to the start of the 2014 NCAA Women's College World Series (WCWS) in Oklahoma City, the 2014 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year will be revealed.
In addition to bestowing the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award, ASA/USA Softball is now in its 12th season of presenting the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 Poll and the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Week, which are announced Tuesdays during the regular season. The pre-season ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 Poll was released Jan. 28 with Tennessee, Oklahoma, Florida, Michigan and Washington taking the Top 5 spots respectively.