Softball Preview: No. 25/19 Lady Vols at Reveille Classic

Lady Vols Softball / Credit: UT Athletics

COLLEGE STATION, Texas – No. 25/19 Tennessee makes its second attempt at a road tournament this weekend as the team heads to College Station, Texas for the Reveille Classic (March 5-7). The Lady Vols, who are coming off of a 7-0 week, played their first 13 games at home for the first time in program history.

UT will open Friday with a doubleheader against Campbell (11 am ET) and Lamar (1:30 p.m.) at Davis Diamond, before a late afternoon start on Saturday against host-team and conference-mate Texas A&M at 4 p.m. Saturday concludes for the Lady Vols with a rematch against Lamar at 6:30 p.m. The weekend concludes with a follow-up contest against the Camels at 11 a.m.

Broadcast Info
Radio broadcast will be available for all of Tennessee’s contest during the weekend on with Brian Rice on the call.

Tennessee’s nonconference matchup against in-conference opponent Texas A&M will be live streamed on SECN+.

Quick Hits
Pitchin’ Weekend

UT is coming off of an undefeated weekend in the circle, headlined by current SEC Pitcher of the Week and junior Ashley Rogers. Rogers recorded a career-best 18 Ks vs Central Michigan and joined elite company as she became just the fourth pitcher in UT history to achieve that mark. Monica Abbott, Ellen Renfroe and Megan Rhodes-Smith, who is in her first year as UT’s pitching coach, are the others. Rogers’ highmark ties for eighth all-time. After Rogers’ noteworthy performance redshirt junior Samantha Bender got the starting nod. In her first start of 2021, Bender threw the program’s first solo no-hitter since 2016 when Erin Gabriel pitched a perfect game against Jacksonville in a 10-0 run rule. Bender, a Chambersburg, Pa., native made 13 appearances in 2020 and finished with a 5-1 record and 2.77 ERA. She also added two saves to the ledger in 43.0 innings of work.

Hit Makers
The Lady Vols are outhitting opponents 100-40 and 44 percent of their hits have been for extra bases including 24 home runs. Tennessee ranks fourth in the SEC and 11th nationally in home runs per game (1.85). UT’s home run total is ahead of where the 2015 team, which registered 100 yard balls in a season, was 13 games in.The Orange and White’s 18 doubles so far rank sixth in the SEC and 24th nationally. Senior outfielder and lead-off hitter Amanda Ayala currently leads the team with 17 hits, nine of which have been extra-base hits (4 2B, 1  3B, 4 HR), while sophomore outfielder Kiki Milloy, who is leading the team with 16 runs, holds the current team-high six home runs. Yard balls account for 50 percent of Milloy’s hits at the moment.

A Score of Success
The 2021 season marks the 20th season that co-head coaches Ralph Weekly and Karen Weekly have managed the Lady Vol ball club. The NFCA Hall of Famers (Ralph was inducted in 2011, Karen was inducted in 2018) boast an overall record of 1,408-466-2 at Tennessee. In their time on Rocky Top, the program transformed into a national powerhouse, with 18 consecutive seasons in the top 25 polls. Since 2001, the Weekly’s have guided players to 36 All-America selections, 64 NFCA All-Region nods, five SEC Player of the Year honors, three SEC Pitcher of the Year titles, 60 All-SEC selections and a deluge of distinguished recognitions. Some of the sports’ most respected names once sported the Orange and White, including Olympian Monica Abbott, considered one of the greatest pitchers of all time, India Chiles, Ivy Renfroe, Rainey Gaffin, Madison Shipman, Sarah Fekete, Raven Chavanne and Aubrey Leach, to name a few. The Weekly’s, who also were co-heads at Chattanooga, have led the Lady Vols to seven WCWS appearances and were SEC Co-Coaches of the Year in 2004 and 2007.

Scouting Report
2021 record: 4-4, 0-0 Big South
Series record: UT leads 4-0
Last outing: First-ever meeting
Key player/stat: The Camels are coming off of a 1-3 weekend against EKU. Their lone win was an 8-0 shutout of the Colonels in five innings, while two of the losses were determined by one run. Campbell is led by the Claudia Ware and Alexa Pagano, who have combined for 14 starts this season and are both batting .375. Ware, who was a member of the All-Big South Freshman Team in 2019, leads her team with nine hits that includes a pair of doubles and a pair of triples. The redshirt sophomore is on a four-game hitting streak.

2021 record: 2-13, 0-0 Southland
Last outing: First-ever meeting
Key player/stat: The Cardinals have faced a tough slate so far with four contests against top 25 opponents, including No. 7 Texas, No. 11 Oklahoma State (twice) and No. 23 Baylor. Lamar has show signs of fight in a couple of contest after taking down Houston 6 -4 in game 2 of a doubleheader after losing 14-5 (5) in game 1, which was the season opener.

Texas A&M
2021 record: 6-2, 0-0 SEC
Series record: UT leads the series 15-5
Last outing: No. 11 UT lost 6-4 in a 10-inning thriller in Knoxville
Key player/stat: The Aggies are coming off a three-game sweep of a respected Tulsa program behind the offense of Haley Lee who leads the league in homeruns per game (0.62), seventh nationally. Junior Lee also paces the conference in slugging percentage with 1.167 average – that number ranks 14th in the country. Collectively, the Aggies 0.38 triples per game rank fourth in the SEC and 25th nationally.

-UT Athletics

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