KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - The Lady Vols softball team is ranked as high as second in the country.
Now they are adding to that potent lineup after drafting a new player whose already inspiring the entire team.
"She won the hearts of our kids when she came over," said co-Head Coach Ralph Weekly.
Eight year-old Averi Ramsey is battling a life-threatening illness: leukemia.
"I think it just really puts things in perspective for them when you see a child like Averi and everything that she's going through at 8 years old. I really makes you appreciate all the blessings you have," said co-Head Coach Karen Weekly.
On Tuesday, she went to softball practice and met the team. But now, she's their teammate.
In a special draft, she was selected as the "number one pick" to join the Lady Vols, and the players cheered her on.
"Provide 18 new friends for her, and to give her an environment like this just to hopefully forget about everything she goes through, all the treatment she goes through on a daily basis right now," said Karen Weekly.
Averi gets her own locker, her own jersey and number, and the head coaches say she's gonna play shortstop.
Her father choked back tears talking about Averi, her battle against leukemia and the local team that's embracing her.
"Real cool, real cool, because I'm a big Orange fan all the way since I was a kid. Ever since I've known what sports are all about, and it's just amazing to me that my daughter is a part of this organizations," said Allen Ramsey.
"This is a child whose been through a life-threatening nine-month period, still fighting leukemia, and she has a bright future and smiling," said Ralph Weekly.
Averi is in the final phase of her treatment plan to fight leukemia, which will continue for another 18 months.
Thanks to the team's partnership with Team IMPACT, she will be a Lady Vol for seasons to come.
To comment, the following rules must be followed:
Comments may be monitored for inappropriate content, but the station is under no legal obligation to do so.
If you believe a comment violates the above rules, please use the Flagging Tool to alert a Moderator.
Flagging does not guarantee removal.
Multiple violations may result in account suspension.
Decisions to suspend or unsuspend accounts are made by Station Moderators.
Links require admin approval before posting.
Questions may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please provide detailed information.