Nov. 17, 2009
"We have had two very good back-to-back recruiting classes in 2008 and 2009," Lady Vol co-head coach Ralph Weekly said. "Our goal with the 2010 class was to continue to recruit solid students with an emphasis on either definite speed or definite power. We wanted to recruit players who had been to the best tournaments and played the best competition. We also wanted to recruit student-athletes who had competed for championships and played for strong, fundamentally oriented coaches. Karen (co-head coach Weekly) and I are very proud of this recruiting class."
A native of Clovis, Calif., Davin has demonstrated her impressive softball capabilities by breaking every major offensive school record under the direction of coach Meagan Simmons at Clovis East H.S. The right-handed slugger concluded her junior campaign with a .459 batting average, a .776 slugging percentage, two doubles, five triples, five home runs and 20 RBIs on her way to being chosen as the 2009 Tri-River Athletic Conference (TRAC) Player of the Year as well as to the 2009 Fresno Bee Softball All-Star Team. A two-time all-state (2008, 2009), two-time all-county (2008, 2009) and three-time all-league selection (2007, 2008, 2009), Davin has served as a team captain for four years on the Clovis East varsity softball squad while maintaining a perfect 4.0 GPA in the classroom. In club action, Davin set the Orange County Batbusters 16U home run record for Doug Myers' team and has now moved on to play for Gary Haning's prestigious OC Batbusters Gold 18U squad. With her 16U team, Davin played a part in a 2009 Southern California State Championship as well as the title at the 2009 Boulder Louisville Slugger Tournament in Boulder, Colo.
"Melissa has been one of the top hitters for the Orange County Batbusters the last three years," Weekly said. "She is a legitimate long ball hitter who possesses that rare blend of speed and power. She can play any infield position well, has soft hands and a strong, accurate arm and has proven to be very good in clutch situations."
A three-sport star at Girls Preparatory School in Chattanooga, Tenn., Lewis joins a quickly growing list of outstanding GPS alumni to have recently come through the Tennessee softball program (i.e. sisters Lillian and Whitney Hammond and Megan Givens). Lewis has excelled athletically during her high school career, having already picked up a staggering six state championship rings. She played a role in three-consecutive Tennessee State Division II Class AA softball titles from 2007-2009 for head coach Susan Crownover, two Division II AA volleyball titles (2007, 2008) and a 2006 Division II Class AA track championship at GPS. Lewis has twice been chosen as an all-state selection and earned a nod among the 2009 Chattanooga Times Free-Press "Best of Preps" listing. She plays summer ball for the Tennessee Fury and head coach Pat Moyer, helping lead her 16U squad to the 2008 Amateur Softball Association (ASA) Southern National Championship and the 2009 ASA Tennessee State Championship. During the 2009 ASA National Championship Gold Tournament, Lewis went 12-for-18 at the plate with four doubles and a triple, while hitting .466 overall with 16 doubles, four homers, 22 stolen bases in 23 attempts and a .502 on-base percentage during the entire Gold campaign.
"Tory is a brilliant student, who also excels on the athletic field," Weekly said. "She has led Girls Preparatory School to numerous state championships in softball and volleyball. Tory is one of the fastest players ever to come to Rocky Top. She is very tough mentally and physically and has played in the top tournaments in Colorado and California as well as at Gold Nationals over the past two years."
Chelsea O'Connor has made her impact felt on both the softball diamond for head coach Sandi Cummings as well as on the track at Windsor High School in Windsor, Colo. The 2009 MaxPreps Colorado 4A State Softball Player of the Year after hitting .585 with six home runs and 32 RBIs, O'Connor helped her squad to the 2006 Colorado 4A State Championship, two consecutive regional titles and state tourney final four appearances (2008, 2009) and a pair of district championships (2007, 2008). She has twice been named all-state (2008, 2009) while picking up four consecutive selections as 4A All-Northern League (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009). O'Connor has proven her capabilities in the classroom, as well, by being named academic all-state in both 2008 and 2009. On the track she was chosen All-Northern League in 2008 and owns a school record for the pole vault at 10 feet and has thrown 110 feet in the discus. She plays for the Triple Crown Stars in Gold summer ball under the direction of head coach Dave King.
"Chelsea is a leader and a fierce player who will make an impact right away," Weekly said. "Chelsea is an outfielder with speed, a great glove, and legitimate long ball power. She was the top Division 4 player in the state of Colorado and led her high school team to the state regionals this past season."
Set to join her sister Ivy (a 2010 UT freshman) at Rocky Top, in-state signee Ellen Renfroe ventures to Tennessee from out of Trinity Christian Academy in Jackson, Tenn., where she currently plays for head coach Robert Craft. Renfroe has helped guide TCA to Tennessee Class A State Softball titles in 2006, 2008, 2009, a Class A State runner-up finish in 2008 and four consecutive district, regional and sectional championships (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009). During her high school career Renfroe has seen Trinity Christian Academy post four straight 40-win seasons and an overall school record of 173-17, including a sterling 46-1 mark in 2009. At the plate, Renfroe has recorded an outstanding .366 batting average, while the righthander also possesses a 0.36 ERA with a 75-7 career mark and 790 K's from the circle. The Jackson Sun has named Renfroe as its 2009 Pitcher of the Year, 2008 Player of the Year and 2006 Newcomer of the Year while also choosing her as a first-team selection in 2007. A finalist for 2009 Gatorade Tennessee Softball Player of the Year, Renfroe was tabbed to the Tennessee Sports Writers Association (TSWA) All-State squad in 2007, 2008 and 2009 and has also reaped four nods as all-district. Renfroe has played Gold softball for the Tennessee Fury and the Illinois Southern Force, helping her 16U squad to third place at the ASA Gold Nationals.
"Ellen is tall, and very athletic," Weekly said. "She pitches, but can also play several other positions. She has proven to be a strong hurler and also a very good hitter. She played several positions with the Illinois Southern Force and will be a player who we believe will help us in many ways. Ellen is a "can do" player, who is poised and mature beyond her years."
One of the most coveted softball signees in the country, Madison Shipman joins the Lady Vol program out of Valencia High School in Valencia, Calif. Under the guidance of head coach Donna Lee, she played alongside current Tennessee sophomore Jessica Spigner as part of Valencia's 2007 USA Today National Championship squad. During her stay at Valencia, Shipman has been chosen as a 2008 Louisville Slugger/National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Honorable Mention All-American as well as a 2008 NFCA First-Team All Western Region selection. In both 2008 and 2009, Shipman was named First Team All-California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) as well as all-state and to the All-Foothill League Team. Shipman was twice chosen by the Los Angeles Times as part of its all-region team (2008, 2009), while the Los Angeles Daily News included her twice on its all-area squad (2008, 2009). Shipman was selected as the California State Sophomore Player of the Year in 2008 after hitting .403 during the campaign. As a junior she raised her average to .411 while helping Valencia to its third consecutive Foothill League Championship. The shortstop played a key role in back-to-back CIF Southern Section titlists in 2007 & 2008 at V.H.S. Shipman plays Gold softball for coach Gary Fausett and the So Cal Choppers.
"Madison is one of the best all around athletes we have ever recruited," Weekly said. "She is an outstanding shortstop with a rocket arm, hits for average and can drive the long ball. Madison has played travel ball at the highest level and also started at shortstop for Valencia High School during their state championship season in 2008. We are fortunate that Madison chose Tennessee over many top ten teams."
Last but certainly not least in UT's signing class is Kourtny Thomas from Houston County H.S. in Warner Robins, Ga. Under the guidance of head coach Angela Crawford, the 6-0 infielder/catcher wrapped up her 2009 campaign at H.C.H.S. with a .370 batting average and six home runs, while helping her squad to its fourth consecutive region 1-5A title and a Georgia Class 5A State Runner-Up finish at 31-6 overall. She has helped Houston County to 102 victories over four seasons and the school's initial "Elite Eight" appearance in the Georgia State Tournament. Thomas has twice been chosen First-Team All-State (2008, 2009) and has been selected First-Team All-Region three times (2007, 2008, 2009). As a freshman starting power forward on the basketball court back in 2006, Thomas helped H.C.H.S. to the school's first-ever "Sweet Sixteen" appearance at the state tournament after averaging 16 points and nine rebounds. During summer softball action, Thomas helped head coach Drew Findling's Georgia Knockouts Gold squad to the 2008 18U ASA Georgia State Championship and a 2009 berth in the ASA Gold National Championship.
"Her summer coaches call her `the future'," Weekly said. "Kourtny is a six-foot player who excels on the corners and can also play outfield or catch. She is an extremely quick, extremely athletic player whose main attribute is power. Kourtny hit a lot of home runs this past summer and has the potential to be one of the best sluggers ever to play at Tennessee."
|2010 Lady Vol Softball Signees|
|Name||Ht.||Pos.||Hometown/High School/Gold Team|
|Melissa Davin||5-10||IF/OF||Clovis, Calif./Clovis East H.S./Haning's OC Batbusters|
|Tory Lewis||5-0||OF||Chattanooga, Tenn./Girls Preparatory School/Tennessee Fury|
|Chelsea O'Connor||5-7||OF||Eaton, Colo./Windsor H.S./Triple Crown Stars|
|Ellen Renfroe||5-10||P/UTL||Humboldt, Tenn./Trinity Christian Academy/Illinois Southern Force & Tennessee Fury|
|Madison Shipman||6-0||SS||Valencia, Calif./Valencia H.S./So Cal Choppers|
|Kourtny Thomas||6-0||IF/C||Warner Robins, Ga./Houston County H.S./Georgia Knockouts|