Senior catcher/first baseman Tiffany Huff
Sept. 21, 2009
By Brian Davis, Assistant Media Relations Director
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Fresh off a sixth consecutive bid to NCAA Regionals and a seventh straight 40-win season, the newest version of the Tennessee Lady Vol softball team and ninth-year co-head coaches Ralph and Karen Weekly prepare to embark on a new campaign with the release of a rugged 2010 spring schedule.
During the slate Tennessee will face four of the eight participants from last year's Women's College World Series (Michigan, Georgia, Florida and Alabama), seven '09 NCAA Super Regional squads and 17 teams that received berths into last year's NCAA Field of 64. Nine of those programs finished the season rated in the final National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Top 25 and 11 spent time in the national rankings during the '09 campaign. In all, UT will play 12 games against last year's final Top 10 and 32 match-ups against squads that participated in the 2009 NCAA Tournament.
"This is, in my opinion, the toughest schedule we've ever played during my time at Tennessee," Lady Vol co-head coach Ralph Weekly said. "We are facing four teams from the WCWS, nine teams that finished in the final Top 25 in the nation, 11 that spent time in the coaches' rankings during the season and playing 32 games against teams that qualified for last year's NCAA Tourney. This is a tough challenge for a team that returns eight players with significant experience and has 10 incoming freshmen. Both Karen (co-head coach Weekly) and I felt it was important to challenge our team early and often. We also realize that it's not so much where we are in February or March, but where we are in April and May that matters the most. Our goal is and always will be to be at our best come time for postseason play."
This year's Big Orange softball squad returns nine players, seven of whom started at least 37 contests last season as well as a pitcher who won 28 games from the circle, and bolsters those returnees with a sterling class of 10 newcomers.
Included among the Lady Vol returnees are 2009 USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year Top 25 Finalist and Louisville Slugger/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 SEC All-Freshman pitcher Cat Hosfield (Sophomore, 43 games started, 28-13 record, 221 K's in 257.1 IP).
Huff was outstanding during her breakout junior campaign, establishing career-highs in batting average, runs scored (48), hits (63), home runs, RBIs, total bases (102), slugging (.646) and on-base percentage (.522) and stolen bases (11) while adding 13 doubles, a triple and 43 walks. Grieve wreaked havoc on the base paths all throughout the 2009 season, swiping a Tennessee sophomore record 39 bases in 42 attempts. The Asheville, N.C., native rated among the Southeastern Conference's top hitters all season in batting average and finished with a squad-best 25 multi-hit games. Spigner made quite an entrance to the program during her rookie year, hitting 14 home runs to break the UT freshman single season home run record established back in 1996 by former Lady Vol Carrie Swinford. The 5-8 third baseman/pitcher posted 16 multi-hit and 12 multi-RBI games and even contributed from the circle by firing 16 innings and picking up her first career win in a 6-3 victory at No. 8 Georgia. Hosfield shouldered the pitching workload for the Big Orange in 2009, tossing 257.1 frames while recording 221 strikeouts, a 28-13 record and six solo shutouts in 54 appearances. Included in her freshman campaign were triumphs over then-No. 6 Oklahoma (two wins), No. 18 LSU (two wins), No. 23 Massachusetts and No. 25 Kansas, while in league play the Murfreesboro, Tenn., product defeated Auburn three times and also posted victories over South Carolina, Arkansas, Kentucky and Ole Miss.
Highlighting the Lady Vol freshman class are 2009 EA Sports All-Americans Andi Williamson (P, Harts, W. Va.) and Lauren Gibson (IF, Pasadena, Md.), lauded leadoff hitter and track speedster Raven Chavanne (3B/OF, Thousand Oaks, Calif.) and in-state pitcher Ivy Renfroe, a 6-0 hurler who recorded over 1,000 strikeouts for Trinity Christian Academy in Jackson, Tenn. Those four individuals provide just a sampling of a 10-player class that brings loads of accomplishment, speed and power to the UT roster.
As always the early season tournament schedule will see the Lady Vols travel from coast-to-coast during February, but this year the March slate includes a pair of home-hosted tournaments at Sherri Parker Lee Softball Stadium.
Tennessee's campaign kicks-off at the high-profile NTC Division I Elite Invitational in Orlando, Fla. During its stay from Feb. 12-14, UT will face a daunting slate of opponents including 2009 WCWS participant Michigan, 11-time national champion UCLA, perennial Big 12 power Oklahoma and programs on the rise, UCF and Florida Atlantic.
After a quick trip back to Knoxville for an early home opener versus Western Carolina on Feb. 16 at Lee Stadium, the Orange & White then embark on nine-game, 10-day road trip to the New Mexico State Invitational in Las Cruces, N. M. (Feb. 20-23) and the prestigious Cathedral City Classic in Cathedral City, Calif. (Feb 25-27).
During their visit to "The Land of Enchantment," the Lady Vols will face Weber State, 2009 NCAA Tournament teams Bradley and Cleveland State and both St. Mary's (CA) and host New Mexico State.
For the sixth time in program history and the fourth straight season, UT will find itself among those teams participating in the prestigious Cathedral City Classic, formerly the Palm Springs Classic. Another challenging schedule awaits as Tennessee is scheduled to face 2009 NCAA Super Regional squads Stanford and Ohio State as well as Pacific and Syracuse during its three-day stay at Big League Dreams Sports Park.
UT wraps up its early season travels by making the brief trip down I-40 to Cookeville, Tenn., for the first time since 2005 with a visit to in-state foe Tennessee Tech for a single match-up on March 3rd.
Having hosted the Tennessee Classic at Lee Stadium for the past two seasons, the Big Orange steps up its hosting duties in 2010 with two home events over March 5-7 and 12-14. In the initial tourney, UT will bring in another perennial Big 12 power in Texas as well as Ohio and Illinois State. Liberty, Tennessee Tech and '09 NCAA participant Campbell venture to Knoxville to round out the field for the second event.
Stuck in a tough position right between UT's two home tournaments is a trip to Mississippi State over March 9-10 to christen Southeastern Conference play.
The Orange & White road schedule in league action includes trips to battle South Carolina (April 2-3, three games), Auburn (April 10-11, three games), Arkansas (April 14, doubleheader) and Alabama (May 1-2, three games).
Conference series slated to be held at Lee Stadium during the 2010 campaign involve WCWS participants Georgia (Mar. 20-21, three games) and Florida (April 23-24, three games) as well as Kentucky (Mar. 23, doubleheader), Ole Miss (Mar. 27-28, three games) and LSU (May 8-9, three games).
Scattered in during SEC action are mid-week, non-conference home games against in-state opponents Austin Peay (Mar. 17) and Middle Tennessee (Mar. 31).
Once the regular-season concludes, Tennessee will travel to Fayetteville, Ark., for the second time in 2010 to contest the annual SEC Tournament over May 13-15.
The NCAA Tournament schedule opens at campus sites over May 21-23 with NCAA Regionals and follows with the best-of-three Super Regionals from May 28-29. The annual Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City, Okla., will be contested from June 3-9 at the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City.
|2010 TENNESSEE LADY VOL SPRING SOFTBALL SCHEDULE|
|NTC DIVISION I ELITE INVITATIONAL--Orlando, Fla.|
|Feb. 12||Fri.||Michigan||Orlando, Fla.||Noon|
|Feb. 12||Fri.||Florida Atlantic||Orlando, Fla.||2 p.m.|
|Feb. 13||Sat.||UCLA||Orlando, Fla.||3 p.m.|
|Feb. 13||Sat.||UCF||Orlando, Fla.||5 p.m.|
|Feb. 14||Sun.||Oklahoma||Orlando, Fla.||11 a.m.|
|FEB. 16||TUES.||WESTERN CAROLINA||KNOXVILLE||5 P.M.|
|NEW MEXICO STATE INVITATIONAL--Las Cruces, New Mexico.|
|Feb. 20||Sat.||Weber State||Las Cruces, N.M.||4:30 p.m. MT|
|Feb. 20||Sat.||Bradley||Las Cruces, N.M.||7 p.m. MT|
|Feb. 21||Sun.||Cleveland State||Las Cruces, N.M.||11:30 a.m. MT|
|Feb. 21||Sun.||St. Mary's (CA)||Las Cruces, N.M.||2 p.m. MT|
|Feb. 23||Tues.||New Mexico State||Las Cruces, N.M.||5 p.m. MT|
|CATHEDRAL CITY CLASSIC--Cathedral City, Calif.|
|Feb. 25||Thurs.||Pacific||Cathedral City, Calif.||12:30 p.m. PT|
|Feb. 25||Thurs.||Stanford||Cathedral City, Calif.||8 p.m. PT|
|Feb. 26||Fri.||Syracuse||Cathedral City, Calif.||8 p.m. PT|
|Feb. 27||Sat.||Ohio State||Cathedral City, Calif.||12:30 p.m. PT|
|March 3||Wed.||at Tennessee Tech||Cookeville, Tenn.||5 p.m. CT|
|FIRST TENNESSEE TOURNAMENT--Knoxville, Tenn.|
|(Texas, Illinois State, Ohio, Tennessee)|
|MAR. 5||FRI.||OHIO||KNOXVILLE||6 P.M.|
|MAR. 6||SAT.||TEXAS||KNOXVILLE||4 P.M.|
|MAR. 6||SAT.||ILLINOIS STATE||KNOXVILLE||6:30 P.M.|
|MAR. 7||SUN.||OHIO||KNOXVILLE||1:30 P.M.|
|MAR. 7||SUN.||ILLINOIS STATE||KNOXVILLE||4 P.M.|
|March 9||Tues.||at Mississippi State (DH)||Starkville, Miss.||4 p.m. CT|
|March 10||Wed.||at Mississippi State||Starkville, Miss.||1 p.m. CT|
|SECOND TENNESSEE TOURNAMENT--Knoxville, Tenn.|
|(Tennessee Tech, Liberty, Campbell, Tennessee)|
|MAR. 12||FRI.||LIBERTY||KNOXVILLE||6 P.M.|
|MAR. 13||SAT.||TENNESSEE TECH||KNOXVILLE||12:30 P.M.|
|MAR. 13||SAT.||CAMPBELL||KNOXVILLE||5:30 P.M.|
|MAR. 14||SUN.||LIBERTY||KNOXVILLE||3:30 P.M.|
|MAR. 14||SUN.||CAMPBELL||KNOXVILLE||5:30 P.M.|
|MAR. 17||WED.||AUSTIN PEAY||KNOXVILLE||6 P.M.|
|MAR. 20||SAT.||GEORGIA (DH)||KNOXVILLE||1 P.M.|
|MAR. 21||SUN.||GEORGIA||KNOXVILLE||1 P.M.|
|MAR. 23||TUES.||KENTUCKY (DH)||KNOXVILLE||4 P.M.|
|MAR. 27||SAT.||OLE MISS (DH)||KNOXVILLE||1 P.M.|
|MAR. 28||SUN.||OLE MISS||KNOXVILLE||1 P.M.|
|MAR. 31||WED.||MIDDLE TENNESSEE||KNOXVILLE||6 P.M.|
|April 2||Fri.||at South Carolina||Columbia, S.C.||5 p.m.|
|April 3||Sat.||at South Carolina (DH)||Columbia, S.C.||1 p.m.|
|April 10||Sat.||at Auburn (DH)||Auburn, Ala.||1 p.m. CT|
|April 11||Sun.||at Auburn||Auburn, Ala.||1 p.m. CT|
|April 14||Wed.||at Arkansas (DH)||Fayetteville, Ark.||3 p.m. CT|
|APRIL 23||FRI.||FLORIDA (DH)||KNOXVILLE||5 P.M.|
|APRIL 24||SAT.||FLORIDA||KNOXVILLE||1 P.M.|
|May 1||Sat.||at Alabama (DH)||Tuscaloosa, Ala.||1 p.m. CT|
|May 2||Sun.||at Alabama||Tuscaloosa, Ala.||1 p.m. CT|
|MAY 8||SAT.||LSU (DH)||KNOXVILLE||1 P.M.|
|May 13-15||Thu.-Sat.||SEC Tournament||Fayetteville, Ark.||TBA|
|May 21-23||Fri.-Sun.||NCAA Regionals||Campus Sites||TBA|
|May 28-29||Fri.-Sat.||NCAA Super Regionals||Campus Sites||TBA|
|June 3-9||Thurs.-Wed.||Women's College World Series||Okla. City, Okla.||TBA (CT)|