July 7, 2010
By Brian Davis, Assistant Media Relations Director
STARKVILLE, Miss. - After a magical 49-15 season that concluded with a third-place national finish on the biggest stage in collegiate softball at the annual Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City, Okla., the Tennessee Lady Vol softball staff has been selected as the 2010 Southeast Region Coaching Staff of the Year by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA).
The award marks the third Region Coaching Staff of the Year honor for co-head coaches Ralph and Karen Weekly, assistant coach Marty McDaniel and volunteer assistant Marc Weekly during their time at Rocky Top. The quartet was previously honored as the Speedline South Region Coaching Staff of the Year in 2005 and 2007 while leading the Big Orange to third and second place national finishes at the WCWS, respectively.
UT entered the NCAA Tournament as the nation's No. 15-seed and immediately caught fire, ripping off seven consecutive tourney victories before coming up just a win short of the program's second berth in the best-of-three WCWS Championship Series. Included in the run was a perfect trip through the Knoxville Regional with triumphs over Ball State (5-0), Virginia (11-2) and Louisville (3-1, 9 inn.), a shocking two-game sweep of No. 2 Michigan (5-0, 4-3) in Ann Arbor, Mich., where the Lady Vols ended the Wolverines' 36-game home winning streak and opening WCWS victories over No. 3 Arizona (9-0, 5 inn.) and No. 9 Georgia (7-5).
Tennessee achieved its 2010 success despite a 19-player roster that boasted a staggering 15 freshmen or sophomore contributors. Included among UT's youth movement were Louisville Slugger/NFCA All-American rookie outfielders Raven Chavanne (.455 avg., 64 runs, 37 steals) and Kat Dotson (.391 avg., 37 RBIs, 29 thefts), fellow NFCA All-Southeast Region selections Jessica Spigner (3B, .350 avg., 14 doubles, eight HR's, 58 RBIs) and Ivy Renfroe (P, 31-6 record, 2.41 ERA, 235 K's in 232.1 innings), SEC All-Freshman selection Lauren Gibson (2B, .297 avg., eight doubles, six HR's, 39 RBIs) and junior sparkplug and team leader Kelly Grieve (CF, .373 avg., 59 runs, 12 doubles, 26 steals).
The Big Orange lost three seniors (Tiffany Huff, Nicole Kajitani, Erinn Webb) off last season's squad but will bolster its returning talent with ESPN/RISE's No. 1 recruiting class in the nation prepping to venture to Tennessee for the 2011 campaign.