Nov. 21, 2008
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Tennessee co-head coaches Ralph and Karen Weekly and the University of Tennessee softball program have announced the signings of four student-athletes to National Letters of Intent for the 2009-10 academic school year. Signees include Raven Chavanne (Thousand Oaks, Calif./Newbury Park H.S./Haning's OC Batbusters), Lauren Gibson (Pasadena, Md./Chesapeake H.S./Team New Jersey), Melissa Brown (Valencia, Calif./William S. Hart H.S./SoCal Choppers) and Ivy Renfroe (Humboldt, Tenn./Trinity Christian Academy/Illinois Southern Force).
"We are excited about these four student-athletes joining our squad at the University of Tennessee," Lady Vol co-head coach Ralph Weekly said. "They have all played at the highest level and have competed for championships on a regular basis. These four student-athletes reflect the type of character, integrity, athleticism and academic success that are cornerstones of the UT program."
A lead-off hitter and perhaps the fastest player ever recruited to wear the Orange & White, Chavanne proves a unique case as the Thousand Oaks, Calif., native excels as a track standout at Newbury Park H.S., but doesn't play softball for her high school. That hasn't stopped the speedster, however, from providing impressive contributions to the high-profile Haning's OC Batbusters squad. During the summer of 2007, Chavanne set the all-time mark for batting average for a 16-U OC Batbusters player by hitting a stellar .583 while helping guide her team to a third place finish at the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) Gold Nationals. On the track she has starred by reaping a trio of first-team All-Marmonte League selections while winning the league's 100-meter title three consecutive seasons with times of 12.55 (2006), 12.31 (2007) and 12.25 (2008). During the 2008 campaign, Chavanne was a California Interscholastic League (CIF) finalist in both the 100 and 200-meter dashes on her way to a third consecutive nod as her team's Most Valuable Athlete. The 5-8 outfielder/third baseman also holds school records for the 200-meter dash (24.90) and the 4x100-meter relay (49.18). She chose Tennessee from among a group of finalists that included Arizona State, Michigan and Cal-Berkeley. In the summer of 2008, Chavanne was the lead-off hitter for the 18-U Batbusters.
A native of Pasadena, Md., and both a 2008 ESPN/Under Armour All-American and Gatorade/RISE Magazine State Player of the Year for Maryland, Gibson has led her Chesapeake H.S. team to consecutive Maryland Class 4A state titles (2007-08) while throwing no-hitters during both championship games. The pitcher/infielder/outfielder was honored as the 2007 and 2008 Metro Player of the Year by The Baltimore Sun, The Washington Post and Capital-Gazette Newspapers (Md.). She also received three straight softball All-Metro and all-county nods (2006-08). During her most recent campaign, Gibson finished with a 17-2 record from the circle and 165 strikeouts in 120 innings of work with a 1.23 ERA, while tallying a .500 batting average, 34 runs scored, 29 RBIs and 16 stolen bases. She went 18-3 with a 0.51 ERA in the circle as a sophomore while batting .471 with 24 RBIs and 24 runs scored. As a freshman, she recorded a .553 batting average with 42 RBIs. Known for her power, Gibson broke the Team New Jersey record for homers in a single season. She also led the prestigious 16-U Gold squad in batting average, runs scored and stolen bases. This past summer Gibson led her team in home runs, including several big blasts, during the ASA Gold National Tournament. Gibson picked Tennessee over a group of programs that included UCLA, Alabama and Oklahoma.
A two-sport athlete at Hart H.S. in softball and basketball, Brown will venture to Tennessee as a slap-hitting middle infielder who has helped her squad to a pair of Foothill League (Calif.) titles (2006, 2008). During the '08 campaign, her team posted a 9-1 league mark as part of a 25-5 overall record to tie Lady Vol freshman Jessica Spigner's Valencia H.S. squad for the crown. Brown was chosen as an All-Foothill League selection in 2008 after hitting .458 with 28 runs scored and 16 RBIs while going 13-for-13 on stolen bases. As a rookie she was chosen as the softball team's Most Valuable Player and was tabbed as the Best Defensive Player as a sophomore/junior. On the hardwood, she contributed to a co-Foothill League title in women's basketball as a freshman/sophomore. Brown plays summer ball for the 18-U So Cal Choppers, who finished third in 2007 at Gold Nationals in Oklahoma City. She was also part of the 14-U National Champions with the So Cal Smashers. Among her final collegiate choices were Washington, Cal State Fullerton and Pacific.
An in-state product hailing from West Tennessee, Renfroe has made a name for herself since eighth grade as a standout pitcher at Trinity Christian Academy in Jackson, Tenn., winning more than 90 games while striking out over 1,000 hitters. The 5-11 hurler has helped TCA post records of 42-3 ('06), 45-5 ('07) and 43-8 ('08) while winning consecutive Tennessee state titles (2006, 2007), four sectional and district championships (2005-08) and three region crowns (2006-08). During her junior campaign ('08), Renfroe was a finalist for Gatorade/RISE Magazine Tennessee State Player of the Year, while also receiving her third consecutive selection as Tennessee Sportswriters Association (TSWA) All-State, First-Team All-West Tennessee and District Most Valuable Player. She completed her junior season with a 20-4 record, a miniscule 0.51 ERA and 261 strikeouts in 128 innings of work with eight no-hitters, one perfect game, a .396 batting average at the dish, two HR's and 33 RBIs. As a sophomore, Renfroe struck out 311 batters in 160 innings with 17 shutouts, seven no-no's, a 25-2 mark and a 0.47 ERA while knocking in 35 runs at the plate with a .330 batting average. A 24-2 record with a 0.40 ERA as a freshman with 10 no-hitters, two perfect games, 247 K's in 161 frames and a .478 average with 63 RBIs and 20 extra-base hits drew the standout a mention as one of Sports Illustrated's "Faces in the Crowd (July 7, 2006)," and Athlete of the Year honors from regional magazine, On the Ball. Among the finalists for Renfroe's services were Oklahoma, Louisville and North Carolina State.
Fresh off a fifth consecutive trip to NCAA Regionals with a 50-16 record, the 2009 version of the Tennessee Lady Vol softball team will open the new season in St. George, Utah, on Feb. 5th against Northern Colorado. First pitch is slated for 5 p.m. ET.
|2009 Lady Vol Softball Signees|
|Name||Ht.||Position||Hometown/High School/Gold Team|
|Raven Chavanne||5-8||OF/3B||Thousand Oaks, Calif./Newbury Park H.S./Haning's OC Batbusters|
|Lauren Gibson||5-6||P/IF/OF||Pasadena, Md./Chesapeake H.S./Team New Jersey|
|Melissa Brown||5-4||IF||Valencia, Calif./William S. Hart H.S./SoCal Choppers|
|Ivy Renfroe||5-11||P||Humboldt, Tenn./Trinity Christian Academy/Illinois Southern Force|