Feb. 11, 2010
By Brian Davis, Assistant Media Relations Director
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The No. 16 Tennessee Lady Vol softball team prepares to open its 2010 campaign with a visit to Clermont, Fla., over Feb. 12-14, to face one of the toughest opening weekend challenges in the program's 15-year history at the NTC Division I Elite Invitational. During its three-day stay the Big Orange is slated to battle No. 3 Michigan, Florida Atlantic, No. 6 UCLA, UCF and No. 10 Oklahoma.
Tennessee enters action with a combined 13-11 overall record against the opposition. Included are a 3-3 record against Michigan, a 3-2 mark versus Florida Atlantic, a 3-5 record against UCLA, a 2-1 mark against UCF, and a flawless 2-0 slate against Oklahoma.
The 2010 version of the Tennessee Lady Vol softball team returns nine letter winners, including seven who started at least 37 games last season and a pitcher who made 54 appearances in the circle. Co-head coaches Ralph and Karen Weekly also welcome in a promising group of 10 high-profile newcomers. UT returns 74 percent of its runs scored, total hits and doubles, 88 percent of its triples, 84 percent of its home runs, 81 percent of its total RBIs and 73 percent of its pitching victories from the 2009 campaign.
Included among the returnees are Louisville Slugger/National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Second Team All-American Tiffany Huff (Senior, C/1B--.399 avg., 13 doubles, eight HR's, 67 RBIs), NFCA All-South Region selections Kelly Grieve (Junior, OF--.393 avg., 48 runs scored, 39 stolen bases) and Jessica Spigner (Sophomore, 3B/P--.322 avg., 14 doubles, 14 HR's, 48 RBIs) and Southeastern Conference All-Freshman pitcher Cat Hosfield (43 games started, 28-13 record, 221 K's in 257.1 IP). Huff and Grieve have already been included during the 2010 preseason as selections to the annual USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year Watch List.
Hosfield posted high-profile pitching victories in 2009 over then-No. 6 Oklahoma (two wins), No. 18 LSU (two wins) and No. 23 Massachusetts as part of her 28-win campaign. Spigner displayed her hitting and pitching prowess by breaking a 13-year-old Tennessee freshman record for homers (14) and downing No. 8 Georgia from the circle behind five innings of one-hit work. Grieve enters this season fresh off hitting .393 in 2009 with 39 thefts and having already broken both the UT freshman and sophomore single-season stolen base records formerly held by Lady Vol All-American Lindsay Schutzler. Huff rated fifth in all of NCAA Division I last year in RBIs-per-game and will continue her climb up the top 10 career lists in a majority of offensive categories in Tennessee softball history.
The Lady Vols also welcome back seven position players to a UT defense that finished second in the nation in fielding percentage during the '09 campaign at .978.
Tennessee kicks off the 2010 season against Michigan at noon on Friday, Feb. 12, at the NTC Division I Elite Invitational in Clermont, Fla. Live stats are expected to be available through Gametracker and periodical updates will be posted on Twitter via http://twitter.com/UTLadyVols.