All chair-back seats at Lee Softball Stadium were sold to season ticket buyers – the Lady Vols were taking orders and checking accounts on the spot – in a clear sign that fans are excited about the 2013 team.
Another indicator was the line that wrapped around the clubhouse as fans of all ages waited for an autograph session with the players. The team signed and posed for photos with fans in a session that took about an hour to reach the end of the line.
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Coach Karen Weekly noted the talent among the upperclassmen – the infield consists of junior Melissa Davin at first, senior Lauren Gibson at second, junior Madison Shipman at shortstop and senior Raven Chavanne at third with senior Ivy Renfroe and junior Ellen Renfroe in the circle – and cracking the lineup, and keeping starting positions, will require season-long effort.
The outfield is patrolled by senior Whitney Hammond, junior Tory Lewis and senior Kat Dotson, all possessing excellent speed and experience.
The catcher spot will be handled by sophomore Hannah Akamine and freshman Lexi Overstreet, according to Weekly.
Overstreet is likely to back up Akamine and would seem to be the heir apparent at third base to Chavanne, an All-American who is fully recovered from shoulder surgery.
It is an ideal situation for the coaches with competition at every spot and the returning sophomores and a very talented freshman class will push the veterans for playing time.
The season starts on the road Feb. 7 at the Red Desert Classic in Utah, followed by tournaments in Tampa, Fla., and Cathedral City, Calif.
The home opener is Feb. 26 against Lipscomb. The SEC season starts March 8 when Tennessee hosts Alabama.
Kat Dotson, Raven Chavanne