June 10, 2013
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee softball team's 2013 season was truly one for the ages. The national runner-up Lady Vols can be proud of a long list of individual, team and program accomplishments that highlighted one of the finest seasons in Tennessee history.
The team finished the year at 52-12, marking the eighth season with 50 or more wins in program history. The Lady Vols made their sixth appearance in the Women's College World Series, all of which came in the last nine years (2005, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2012, 2013), and their second appearance in the Championship Series (2007, 2013). Tennessee went 16-6 in SEC play, finishing with the second-best regular-season record in the conference.
The Lady Vols finished the season as the national runner-up and were ranked at No. 5 in the final regular season USA Today/NFCA Coaches Poll and the ESPN.com/USA Softball Poll.
Seniors Raven Chavanne and Lauren Gibson and junior Madison Shipman were all named to the 2013 NFCA Division I All-American first team. UT has had at least one NFCA All-American in 10 consecutive years (2004-13) with multiple All-Americans in seven of those years (2006, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013).
Chavanne hit .435 (19th nationally) with a career highs of seven home runs, 33 RBIs, 70 runs and 41 stolen bases. She was named the Capital One Academic All-American of the Year and was also a Top 3 Finalist for USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year and a finalist for the Senior Class Award. She was also a First Team All-SEC, an SEC All-Defensive Team and an SEC All-Tournament selection. Chavanne completed her incredible UT career as the school's all-time leader in batting average (.442), runs (244), on-base percentage (.509) and stolen bases (143). She was a four-time All-American and a three-time first-team pick (2011, 2012, 2013). Chavanne and Monica Abbott (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007) are the only four-time All-Americans in Tennessee softball history. Chavanne maintained the same level of excellence in the classroom as she was also a three-time first-team Academic All-American (2011, 2012, 2013)
Gibson also had a career-best year as a senior, hitting .401 with personal highs of 19 home runs (15th-most in nation), 68 RBIs, 14 doubles, 68 runs, a .538 on-base percentage and a .802 slugging percentage. Gibson was the 2013 SEC Player of the Year and earned NFCA All-American first-team honors for the third consecutive year (2011, 2012, 2013). She became just the fifth Lady Vol to become a three-time All-American, joining Abbott (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007), Chavanne (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013), Tonya Callahan (2006, 2007, 2008) and Lindsay Schutzler (2005, 2006, 2007). Gibson was also a Top 10 Finalist for USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year, a First Team All-SEC, SEC All-Defensive Team and SEC All-Tournament selection. Gibson's 19 home runs in 2013 set a new Tennessee single-season record. She finished her career ranked in the in the top 3 of many Tennessee offensive categories, including home runs (46, second), RBIs (216, third), slugging percentage (.644, tied for third) and on-base percentage (.484, tied for third).
Shipman eared All-American honors for the second straight year and enjoyed her finest season as a Lady Vol. The junior set new career highs with a .367 batting average, 11 home runs, 77 hits, 20 doubles, 52 runs, a .429 on-base percentage and a .619 slugging percentage. She also tied her previous career high with 63 RBIs. Her signature moment of the year was on softball's grandest stage. In Game 1 of the Championship Series against Oklahoma, Shipman hit a three-run homer off Keilani Ricketts in the top of the 11th to give the Lady Vols a 3-0 lead. Shipman was also a Capital One second-team Academic All-American, a First Team All-SEC pick and an SEC All-Defensive Team selection.
Junior pitcher Ellen Renfroe also shined her brightest at the 2013 Women's College World Series. Renfroe, who was a NFCA Division I All-Southeast Region second-team pick and a Capital One second-team Academic All-American, went 2-1 with a 1.97 ERA and 38 strikeouts over 32.0 innings in Oklahoma City. She tossed complete-game wins against Florida and Washington a courageous 13-strikeout, 11-inning pitching duel in Game 1 of the Championship Series. On the year, Ellen Renfroe went 19-5 with a 1.85 ERA and 221 strikeouts over 200.2 frames.
Ivy Renfroe (22-5, 1,77 ERA, 148 strikeouts, 150.2 innings pitched) and Kat Dotson (.333 batting average, five homers, 11 doubles, five triples, 45 RBIs, 49 runs, 20 stolen bases) also had outstanding senior years to finish their distinguished Tennessee careers ranked among the very best in various statistical categories.
The Lady Vols' opened the year with a bang, scoring 18 runs on 22 hits in the season opener to take an 18-3 win over Southern Utah in the Red Desert Classic. The win also marked Tennessee's 800th program victory. The next day, Ellen Renfroe threw the second no-hitter of her career, fanning five batters over in a 10-0, five-inning win over Utah State.
On Feb. 21, the Lady Vols shut down Long Beach State, 7-0, in Karen Weekly's 800th career win as a head coach. Tennessee started the season 12-0 before a loss to Northwestern on Feb. 22.
Tennessee took two out of three against-then No. Alabama in the start of its SEC schedule from May 8-10. UT took a dramatic 4-3 win in the first game when Madison Shipman hit the game-winning RBI single in the bottom of the seventh. Tennessee has beaten a No. 1-ranked Alabama team in three straight years (2011, 2012, 2013). Ivy Renfroe went 2-0 on the week with a .68 ERA and eight strikeouts over 10.1 frames to sweep both the Louisville Slugger/NFCA National Player of the Weeek and USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Week, becoming just the fifth Lady Vol to win both major weekly awards in the same week.
The Lady Vols enjoyed SEC series sweeps against then-No. 4 Texas A&M (March 22-24), Georgia (April 5-7), Auburn (April 12-14) and Ole Miss (April 19-21).
Chavanne was named the USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Week for the second time in her career on March 26 after she hit .750 with five RBIs, one homer, one double, six runs, three walks and three stolen bases as UT went 4-0 against then-No. 4 Texas A&M and Murray State.
UT's 9-2 road win over Georgia on April 6 marked Ralph Weekly's 1,100th win as a head coach. He was just the 14th head coach to achieve 1,100 wins. On April 7, Tennessee took a 6-1 win over the Bulldogs, marking its 600th win under the direction of the Weeklys.
On April 20, Gibson had a performance for the ages, going 4-for-5 with three home runs, one double, nine RBIs and four runs scored. She is the only Lady Vol to ever hit three home runs in one game and her nine RBIs tied a school record set by Dotson in 2011. Gibson was named the Louisville Slugger/NFCA National Player of the Week after hitting .818 (9-for-11) with five homers, three doubles, 18 RBIs, eight runs and three walks over the course of four wins against Appalachian State and Ole Miss. It was the first national weekly honor in Gibson's storied career.
Two weeks later, Gibson hit two home runs in a 12-8 (6) loss to Missouri, giving her 17 on the season at the time and breaking the previous Tennessee single-season record of 16 previously held by Tonya Callahan (2008) and Jessica Spigner (2011).
The Lady Vols had arguably their strongest run through the NCAA Tournament in team history going 8-0 through the NCAA Tournament and WCWS to reach the Championship Series. UT stormed through the Knoxville Regional with a 9-0 (5) win over Longwood, a marathon 11-inning 1-0 win over NC State and another 7-0 win over the Wolfpack. Tennessee took 3-2 and 5-3 wins over Alabama in the Knoxville Super Regional to punch its sixth ticket to the Women's College World Series.
Tennessee shined at the Women's College World Series, giving fans five exciting games and reaching the Championship Series. In Game 2 on May 30, UT took a 9-2 win over Florida thanks to some early scoring, a 3-for-4 effort by Dotson and a nine-strikeout gem by Ellen Renfroe. Tennessee edged Washington, 1-0, in Game 5 when Whitney Hammond's smart baserunning put the winning run on third and Tory Lewis knocked the game-winning RBI single in the bottom of the seventh. Ellen Renfroe fired a 10-strikeout, two-hit shutout to shut down UW. In Game 11, Gibson hit a two-run homer and Lexi Overstreet drew a bases-loaded walk to back a strong pitching effort by Ivy Renfroe and Ellen Renfroe as the Lady Vols edged Texas, 2-1.
The first game of the Championship Series had everyone on the edge of their seats as the Lady Vols and Oklahoma clashed for a 12-inning pitcher's duel. At 12 innings, the game was the longest in Tennessee history. Madison Shipman's three-run homer to center field in the top of the 11th gave UT a 3-0 lead, but OU would score five runs in the next two innings to take the win. Ellen Renfroe was outstanding in the circle, striking out 13 batters in 11 innings to keep a potent Oklahoma lineup off the scoreboard for 10 innings.
Tennessee's amazing 2013 season came to a close in Game 2 of the Championship Series when Oklahoma took a 4-0 win to capture the national title. Gibson, Ellen Renfroe and Shipman were all named to the WCWS All-Tournament Team.
The Lady Vols graduate an outstanding senior class in Melissa Brown, Raven Chavanne, Kat Dotson, Lauren Gibson, Whitney Hammond and Ivy Renfroe, but will return a very strong core of players to make another run in 2014.