2020 Top 50 College Softball Programs No. 9 TennesseeAnalysis
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Location: Knoxville, Tenn.
Field: Sherri Parker Lee Stadium (2,200)
Head Coach: Ralph and Karen Weekly, 907-285-2 (19 Seasons)
Postseason Appearances: 17
Last Decade: 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
WCWS Appearances: 7
WCWS Titles: 0
All Americans: 36
The Volunteers check in at No. 9 in our Top 50 Programs, just ahead of Arizona due to four trips to the WCWS in the last decade. With legendary co-head coaches Karen and Ralph Weekly leading the way, the Vols entered the 2020 season with 16-consecutive postseason appearances and eight Super Regional appearances from 2010-2019.
With success in the early part of the decade, the Vols advanced to their fourth WCWS in 2010. Combining speed and power, the Vols had an explosive offense, which included freshman All-American Raven Chavanne. The triple threat led the Vols in average (.455), runs (64), hits (95), triples (5), slugging percentage (.569), on-base percentage (.511) and stolen bases (37) in her rookie campaign. Paired with another rookie, 31-game winner Ivy Renfroe, the Vols excelled with a young squad. Tennessee drew the No. 15 seed and swept the Knoxville Regional to face No. 2 Michigan in the Ann Arbor Super Regional. The Vols came out on top in game one with a 5-0 victory and sneaked by to 4-3 in game two to punch their ticket to OKC. Entering elimination Sunday 2-0, Tennessee fell to Arizona twice to miss the championship series.
The 2013 squad finished the season with a 52-12 record. Chavanne led the offense again with a .435 average and had Lauren Gibson and Madison Shipman to help her score 70 runs on the season. Shipman would eventually win the Honda Sports Award in 2014, joining Monica Abbott as the only two in the program to capture the highest honor in women’s sports. The roster also included the Renfroe sisters – Ivy and Ellen – who combined for 41 wins in the circle and 369 strikeouts.
Tennessee’s last trip to OKC was in 2015 after hitting a team-record 100 home runs on the season. UT has five different players hit double-figure homers. With Rainey Gaffin (17-4 / 2.17 ERA) in the circle, the No. 8 Vols swept the Knoxville Regional defeating Longwood and Utah twice to face Florida State in the Super Regionals. The Seminoles pushed the series to the if-necessary game after two homers by Jessica Warren in game two. Gaffin picked up the win in game three, allowing just one earned run on five hits, two walks and four strikeouts.
Players to Note:
Meghan Gregg (2015-2018): The 2017 SEC player of the Year set Tennessee’s single-season RBI record (79) and ranks first in program history in career homeruns (57), RBIs (263), slugging percentage (.718), grand slams (5), and total bases (517)
Aubrey Leach (2016-2019): During her junior campaign (2018), the All-American selection led the SEC in batting average (.441), set UT single-season record runs (80), and was the NCAA leader in runs per game (1.31)