Lady Vols ready to host NCAA regionals at Lee Stadium
Tennessee has one of the best lineups in college softball, but that doesn’t make co-head coach Ralph Weekly feel any better about the loss of junior first baseman Melissa Davin as his team opens play against Longwood in the Knoxville NCAA Regional on Friday night.
“She’s more important than her .303 batting average shows,” Weekly said Thursday. “She’s a slugger who can run and she’s a very good defensive player.
“She’s a kid who has so much potential. I’ll really miss her.”
Davin was playing in the outfield when she slipped on a wet field and suffered a broken hand on the last weekend of the regular season at Missouri.
Mike Davin, Melissa’s father, posted Wednesday in the comments section of a story on Govolsxtra.com, “We are holding out hope that Melissa will heal up by WCWS (Women’s College World Series).”
Weekly announced Wednesday that Davin was out for the postseason. He said again Thursday that even if the team advanced to the world series, he didn’t think she would be ready to play.
Versatile Offenses: Despite the loss of Davin, All-SEC third baseman Raven Chavanne believes the Lady Vols’ offensive balance will give them an advantage in the tournament.
“I think we have a rare combination of speed and power,” said the UT senior, who has 39 stolen bases, seven home runs and a .471 batting average.
The Lady Vols have 59 home runs and 103 stolen bases in 54 games.
Longwood also has impressive stats: 85 home runs and 83 stolen bases in 59 games.
Tournament Tested: Tennessee has four players with .300 or better career batting averages in the NCAA tournament.
Chavanne is batting .403 and Kat Dotson is hitting .382. Each has played in 23 tournament games.
Lauren Gibson, who also has played in 23 tournament games, is hitting .317. Madison Shipman has a .317 batting average through 14 games of the tournament.
“In postseason, I try not to change too much,” Shipman said. “And not put too much pressure on the moment.
“You want to do the little things right.”
Sister Act: The statistics for UT’s pitching sisters, Ivy and Ellen Renfroe, are amazingly similar entering the tournament.
Ivy, a senior, is 17-4 with a 1.91 earned-run average. Ellen, a junior, is 16-4 with a 1.93 ERA.
But Ivy has been more effective in the NCAA tournament. She’s 13-4 with a 1.70 ERA in 21 tournament games. Ellen is 0-4 with a 3.27 ERA in eight games.
All-Region: Gibson, Shipman, Chavanne, Dotson and Ellen Renfroe have been selected to NFCA Division I All-Southeast Region teams.