Oct. 21, 2009
By Brian Davis, Assistant Media Relations Director
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The 2010 Lady Vol softball team demonstrated its promising potential during an unbeaten 8-0 fall campaign that concluded at last weekend's Tennessee Classic in Knoxville, Tenn. The Big Orange racked up 82 total runs, swiped a staggering 52 bases and registered double-figures on the scoreboard in six of the eight contests while limiting the opposition to 11 total runs and one steal.
During its fall season, UT faced reigning Atlantic Sun Conference Champion Lipscomb and Tusculum, then battled Milligan, Lee, Middle Tennessee, Chattanooga State, Walters State and Vol State during the annual Tennessee Classic at Lee Softball Stadium.
"I was very pleased with our efforts as a team, especially considering we played without Jessica Spigner and Tiffany Huff, a pair of experienced All-Region returnees and two of the major RBI producers in the middle of our lineup," Lady Vol co-head coach Ralph Weekly said. "Both were cleared on Tuesday to resume practice. Spigner was out because of a minor injury, and Huff is returning from summer surgery. I believe this is the fastest team we have ever fielded at Tennessee. The top of our order is extremely quick with all three players having the capability to steal bases and hit the gaps with power. Cat Hosfield and Ivy Renfroe pitched most of the innings with Spigner being out. Both pitchers showed improvement in several areas and threw extremely well."
Lauded freshman third baseman/outfielder Raven Chavanne led all Lady Vols in hitting this past weekend with a .656 batting average, four extra base hits and 16 stolen bases. Fellow standout rookie catcher/outfielder Katherine Dotson contributed a .636 average with 14 thefts and a pair of triples. Junior centerfielder Kelly Grieve, a 2009 All-Southeast Region selection who is quickly becoming one of the top base stealers in school history, picked up right where she left off last season by hitting .590 overall with 12 steals. Sophomore catcher/outfielder Shelby Burchell recorded a .520 mark at the plate with three home runs, including her first grand slam as a Lady Vol, and totaled nine extra base hits. Two additional high-profile freshmen, infielders Lauren Gibson and Melissa Brown, each hit at a .521 clip with Gibson contributing a homer and a squad-best 12 RBIs and Brown a pair of three-baggers.
The 2010 Tennessee Lady Vol softball team returns nine letter winners, including seven who started at least 37 games last season and a pitcher (Hosfield) 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.
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 SEC All-Freshman pitcher Cat Hosfield (43 games started, 28-13 record, 221 K's in 257.1 IP). Hosfield posted pitching victories last season over No. 6 Oklahoma (two wins), No. 18 LSU (two wins) and No. 23 Massachusetts as part of her 28-win campaign, while Spigner displayed her pitching promise by downing No. 8 Georgia behind five innings of one-hit work.
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.
"This has been an extremely competitive fall season with at least six of our freshmen seriously challenging to play everyday" co-head coach Karen Weekly said. "The defense (which finished No. 2 nationally last season) is even better with much needed depth. Spigner, Huff, Burchell, Gibson and Erinn Webb provide power to compliment our speed game. Hosfield remained on campus this summer and is stronger and much improved. Spigner, who also threw competitively this summer, will be a welcome addition in the circle. We need to continue to improve every day because we play in an exceptionally talented conference and have our toughest pre-conference schedule ever playing teams such as Michigan, UCLA, Oklahoma, Texas, Stanford and Ohio State."
The Orange & White will open the 2010 campaign over Feb 12-14 at the NTC Division I Elite Invitational in Orlando, Fla. UT will be put to the test immediately at the prestigious event, facing 2009 Women's College World Series participant Michigan in the Lady Vol season opener on Feb. 12th at noon ET. During the event Tennessee will also face-off against 11-time national champion UCLA, Big 12 power Oklahoma and rising programs Florida Atlantic and UCF.