Nov. 30, 2009
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The Tennessee Lady Vol softball team is well represented on the prestigious ESPN RISE All-Decade Softball Team as the Big Orange boasts a Southeastern Conference-best three players on the 30-member squad. Included among a veritable "who's-who" of collegiate softball for Tennessee are former National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) All-Americans Monica Abbott and Sarah Fekete as well as current UT sophomore and 2009 NFCA All-Southeast Region returnee Jessica Spigner.
The high-profile squad was chosen based on criteria that included high school accomplishment, collegiate and Women's College World Series efforts and USA National Team inclusion from throughout the decade stretching from 2000-present.
"I believe this ESPN All-Decade selection reflects the quality of players that we've been getting to Tennessee," Lady Vol co-head coach Ralph Weekly said. "Karen and I are really proud of Monica (Abbott), Sarah (Fekete) and Jessica (Spigner) and are honored to have coached them. These three players are phenomenal individuals both on and off the field and have all been great representatives of the University of Tennessee and the sport of softball. We especially look forward to three more great years of contributions from Jessica Spigner."
Spigner wasted little time making an impression on the Tennessee program during her initial campaign clad in the Orange & White. The Santa Clarita, Calif., native hit .322 (57-of-177) with a team-best 14 doubles, a UT freshman record 14 home runs and 48 RBIs in 2009 while leading the squad in total bases (113) and posting a .638 slugging percentage. Her 14 big flies rated her sixth in the final SEC statistics, in a deadlock for 35th counting all of NCAA Division I and tied for the fourth-most homers by a freshman in the nation. The 5-8 third baseman/pitcher tallied two or more hits in a match-up on 16 occasions during the 2009 campaign with 12 multi-RBI contests. Spigner blasted two home runs as part of a 3-for-3, career-high six-RBI effort against San Jose State and homered in four consecutive games from March 11-18 (Belmont, South Carolina-twice, Middle Tennessee). During that four-game stretch, she went 8-of-15 (.533) at the dish with 14 RBIs on the way to receiving SEC Player of the Week honors. Spigner also picked up her initial collegiate pitching win by firing five innings of one hit relief at #8 Georgia to guide UT past the Bulldogs, 6-3, and posted a perfect 4-for-4 day at the plate with two doubles and a pair of RBIs at Ole Miss on April 19.
A local product out of Maryville, Tenn., the two-time NFCA All-American Fekete led the NCAA in batting average in 2006 while establishing a new Southeastern Conference record for single-season hits (110). The 5-8 centerfielder's total eclipsed the previous conference mark of 107 base knocks registered by teammate Lindsay Schutzler during Tennessee's 2005 run to the WCWS. The first-team All-South Region selection hit safely in 60 of her 72 games played in 2006 and reached base by hit or walk in an incredible 65 of 72 contests. She also led the SEC in on-base percentage (.553) and hits while rating third in the league in runs scored (61). Fekete completed her career as the all-time Tennessee leader in batting average (.398), on-base percentage (.456) and stolen bases (85) while finishing second in runs scored (189) and hits (296). During UT's postseason slate she hit .489 and was honored as the UT Daily Beacon Athlete of the Year over such Lady Vol standouts as All-American basketball phenom Candace Parker and All-Americans Kristen Andre (volleyball) and Ali Christoph (soccer). She also was honored as one of four national finalists for the 2006 Honda Award for Softball.
The 2007 USA Softball Player of the Year and SEC Female Athlete of the Year, the winner of the prestigious '07 Honda Award for Softball as well as the Women's Sports Foundation's Sportswoman of the Year trophy, Abbott registered a NCAA Division I-best 50-5 record with a 0.68 ERA and 29 shutouts to go along with a NCAA single-season record 724 strikeouts during her record-setting 2007 senior campaign. She is the Lady Vols' only four-time NFCA First-Team Softball All-American, as well as being a three-time SEC Pitcher of the Year winner, a four-time All-SEC pick and a three-time Women's College World Series All-Tournament selection. The 6-3 lefthander established NCAA Division I career records for wins (189), strikeouts (2,440), shutouts (112), appearances (253) and innings pitched (1448.0). A 16-time SEC Pitcher of the Week, four-time USA Softball National Player of the Week and three-time NFCA National Player of the Week, Abbott recorded 23 career no-hitters and six perfect games. At the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China, Abbott helped the U.S. National Team to a silver medal by posting a 3-0 record, a 0.29 ERA and 32 strikeouts. The Salinas, Calif., product also made history by firing the only perfect game for a U.S. pitcher in Olympic history during an 8-0 (5 inn.) blanking of the Netherlands.
ESPN/RISE All-Decade Softball Team
CatchersAmanda Chidester (Cabrini, Allen Park, Mich.) 2008
She was the 2009 Big Ten Freshman of the Year after a breakout season at the University of Michigan. At Cabrini, Chidester led her team to two state championships and a runner-up finish in her senior year.
Stacie Chambers (Cactus, Glendale, Ariz.) 2006
Current Arizona Wildcat played for Team USA this past summer after being named a College All-American. She smacked a state-record 48 home runs at Cactus High and from 2003 to 2006, and the Cobras won three state titles.
PitchersMonica Abbott (North Salinas, Salinas, Calif.) 2003
The four-time All-American at the University of Tennessee and 2008 U.S. Olympian set NCAA records in victories (189), strikeouts (2,440), shutouts (112), appearance (253) and innings pitched (1,448). As a high school senior, she didn't give up an earned run all season and was Division I state player of the year.
Kelsi Dunne (Spruce Creek, Port Orange, Fla.) 2007
She is currently the ace at the University of Alabama as a junior. She was the EA SPORTS National Player of the Year in 2007, going 26-1 with 20 shutouts, 11 no-hitters and five perfect games.
Ashley Brignac (John Curtis, River Ridge, La.) 2007
Member of the USA National Team this past summer led Louisiana-Lafayette to 2008 Women's College World Series appearance. As a senior at Curtis, she helped her team win its fifth straight state title with 25-0 record and 21 no-hitters. She allowed only 14 hits for the entire season.
Kenzie Fowler (Canyon del Oro, Tucson, Ariz.) 2009
One of two Class of 2009 players to earn a spot on this team, Fowler was an EA SPORTS All-American for all four years of her time at Canyon del Oro. She also was a two-time Gatorade National Player of the Year and had a 105-8 career pitching record with 1,449 strikeouts and 30 no-hitters.
Alicia Hollowell (Fairfield, Calif.) 2002
Legendary California prep standout struck out a national-record 61 batters in a 30-inning game and set four other national records, including 2,328 career strikeouts. Hollowell led Arizona to 2006 Women's College World Series title and was part of U.S. teams that won gold medals at the World Cup in 2006 and 2007.
Stacey Nelson (Los Alamitos, Calif.) 2005
Among the top 10 in NCAA history for pitching wins, Nelson nearly led Florida to the NCAA title last spring. She struck out 228 batters in her senior season for Los Alamitos and was named All-Orange County twice.
Nicole Nemitz (Regina, Harper Woods, Mich.) 2006
She played on the USA National Team this past summer after being Big Ten Pitcher of the Year. At Regina, Nemitz was the State Player of the Year and led the Lady Saddlelites to three straight state Division 1 titles.
Cat Osterman (Cypress Springs, Cypress, Texas) 2001
It was obvious that our ESPN RISE Player of the Decade would be a force to be reckoned with after she took Team USA into extra-innings as just a senior in high school.
Anjelica Selden (Vanden, Travis AFB, Calif.) 2004
She was Ms. Softball in California after throwing 16 no-hitters, including 10 in a row that set a national record at the time. At UCLA, Selden pitched in the WCWS as a freshman and was a three-time All-American.
InfieldersVal Arioto (Foothill, Pleasanton, Calif.) 2007
After two impressive years at Cal, she was selected to the 2009 USA National Team. In high school, Arioto was the San Francisco Chronicle Player of the Year as a senior with 12 homers, 47 RBIs and a 23-1 pitching record.
Andrea Duran (Selma, Calif.) 2002
She graduated from UCLA in 2006 and has been a member of the USA National Team ever since, including a starting role in the 2008 Olympics. Duran had 206 career hits at Selma, one of the highest totals in California prep history.
Kristie Fox (Mt. Carmel, San Diego, Calif.) 2003
Member of the 2006 and 2007 Women's College World Series title teams at Arizona set a WCWS record with 11 hits as a senior. She was a member of the Junior National Team in high school and was first team all-state in 2003.
Ashley Hansen (Corona del Sol, Tempe, Ariz.) 2008
After a breakthrough freshman year at Stanford, Hansen earned a spot on the USA National Team last summer and was a member of the Junior National Team in high school. In her senior season, she hit .636 with 32 of her 77 hits for extra bases.
Lauren Lappin (Loara, Anaheim, Calif.) 2002
As a high school senior, Lappin was named the Orange County Female Athlete of the Year. She was an alternate at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, but in 2008 was on the national team and won a silver medal.
Jodie Legaspi (Pacifica, Garden Grove, Calif.) 2003
She's one of the top power hitters in UCLA history, starting every game from 2004-2007. In her senior year at Pacifica, Legaspi was the L.A. Times Player of the Year and was the guiding force to her team's No. 1 finish in the state rankings.
Jessica Spigner (Valencia, Calif.) 2008
It would be hard to believe that Spigner would actually be better in college than she was in high school, but she has proved that after playing her first season as at Tennessee. She was the EA SPORTS National Player of the Year at Valencia in 2008 and hit a freshman-record 14 homers for the Lady Vols in her first season.
OutfieldersTina Boutelle (Taylor, Katy, Texas) 2002
As a Texas Longhorn, Boutelle led her team to two Big 12 championships in her four years. In high school, she batted .542 her senior year and hit seven home runs. She might be small, but she can hit for power.
Kaitlin Cochran (Rosary, Fullerton, Calif.) 2005
A three-time Pac-10 Player of the Year at Arizona State, Cochran was the top player for the 2008 squad that won the NCAA title. She made her first USA National Team roster this past summer. At Rosary, she had a .500 career batting average, including 60 hits as a senior.
Sarah Fekete (Maryville, Tenn.) 2002
The two-time All-American at Tennessee helped lead her team to the 2006 WCWS. At Maryville, Fekete was named all-county for four straight seasons and hit for a nearly .500 average.
Caitlin Lowe (Foothill, Tustin, Calif.) 2003
Lowe is an Olympic gold medalist and a four-time NFCA All-American from the University of Arizona. She also won national championships in 2006 and 2007 as a Wildcat. She has been on the USA Team since 2004. At Foothill, Lowe was the Orange County Register Player of the Year her senior year.
Catalina Morris (Buena, Sierra Vista, Ariz.) 2002
She was a three-time All-American at Stanford and was a member of the 2004 USA National Elite Team. As a senior at Buena, she batted .426 with six homers.
Multi-Purpose (Hitting, Pitching)Lisa Dodd (University City, San Diego, Calif.) 2003
Although she excelled at UCLA as a three-time All-American, Dodd makes this list more for her success in high school. The heavily recruited player switched schools as a senior but that didn't prevent her from setting a then state record for home runs in a season with 17 and finished with a .612 average. She also had a 0.16 ERA as a pitcher.
Megan Langenfeld (Centennial, Bakersfield, Calif.) 2006
You won't find too many players more versatile than Langenfeld, who's a dominant pitcher and devastating hitter. She fits best on this team as an infielder. Last summer, the UCLA All-American was named best hitter as a member of the USA National Team at the PanAm Games. As an EA SPORTS All-American in 2006, she allowed only five runs in 161 innings as a pitcher and hit .608 while striking out just eight times.
Taryne Mowatt (Santiago, Corona, Calif.) 2004
She was a two-time prep All-American with 91 pitching wins and 69 shutouts from 2001-2004. She also hit as well as she pitched. Mowatt later led Arizona to a WCWS title and recently won two ESPY awards.
Keilani Ricketts (Archbishop Mitty, San Jose, Calif.) 2009
The EA SPORTS National Player of the Year in 2009 joins Arizona's Kenzie Fowler as the only Class of 2009 players on this roster. Rickets went 22-0 last spring with a 0.10 ERA and hit .456 with nine home runs. She led her team to an unbeaten record and No. 1 FAB 50 ranking as well.
Jennie Ritter (Dexter, Mich.) 2000
Ritter's success began at a young age as she averaged more than two strikeouts per inning throughout her prep career. After overcoming vertigo and the possibility of never playing again, Ritter led Michigan to the 2005 WCWS crown.
Jamie Southern (Clovis, Calif.) 2000
The four-time All-American at Fresno State ended her collegiate career ranked in the top 10 in nine NCAA record categories. She also was the 2000 CalHiSports.com Ms. Softball honoree after going 19-4 with a 0.27 ERA and hitting for a .393 average.
Stephanie VanBrakle (Chambersburg, Pa.) 2002
One of the best hitting pitchers to ever play the game, VanBrackle led her team at Alabama to WCWS appearances in 2003, 2005 and 2006. She also was an EA SPORTS All-American in 2002.