LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Tennessee Lady Vol co-head softball coaches Ralph and Karen Weekly were each honored on Thursday at the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Convention in Las Vegas, Nev., as recipients of Easton Victory Club awards as part of a group of over 200 coaches who attained career win milestones during the 2007 softball campaign.
Prepping to enter his 21st campaign as a head coach and seventh at Tennessee, Ralph Weekly achieved the 800-victory plateau with UT’s 6-0 triumph over Western Kentucky on March 28, 2007. In possession of a career record of 827-282-1, it is possible that he would have been closing in on the prestigious 1,000-win mark if not for spending the 1999 and 2000 seasons as a hitting coach and team leader helping the U.S. Softball National Team to its second-consecutive gold medal at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia.
Beginning her 12th season as a head coach and seventh at UT, Karen Weekly (549-198-1) reached the 500-win mark with a 3-0 victory over Michigan State at the Palm Springs Classic in Cathedral City, Calif., on February 24, 2007. Before arriving at UT, she registered a 223-97 during five seasons as a head coach at Chattanooga, including guiding the Lady Mocs to 48-18 and 47-27 records during her husband’s two-year leave of absence.
Since arriving at Tennessee prior to the 2002 season, the Weeklys, with the help of fourth-year assistant coach Marty McDaniel and volunteer assistant coach Stephanie Sayne, have taken Tennessee softball from a program searching for an identity, after suffering through a 24-35 campaign (2001), and transformed it into a formidable conference and national powerhouse. Under their guidance, UT has registered an outstanding 326-101-1 record, three consecutive Women’s College World Series appearances, three straight top-three national finishes, including a runner-up spot in 2007, a Southeastern Conference regular-season (2007) and tournament (2006) championship and the initial No. 1 ranking in both program and SEC softball history. The Big Orange spent a record 11 consecutive weeks at No. 1 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll during the 2007 season. In fact, the 326 wins since 2002 tie the Big Orange for the most victories in the league during that span alongside rival Georgia. Tennessee’s .763 winning percentage, during that six-year stint, certainly rates among the top marks of any program in the nation.
UT has averaged 54.3 wins-per-season since 2002 and a staggering 63.7 wins over the last three seasons. Tennessee has crossed the 60-victory plateau in each of the past three years by recording a 67-15 tally in 2005, a 61-12 slate in 2006 and last year’s record-setting 63-8 mark for a program-best single-season winning percentage of .887. The 67 wins in 2005 also tied Illinois-Chicago (1999) and Arizona (1998) for the NCAA Division I record for most triumphs in a single campaign.
Ralph and Karen Weekly will lead their charges into a new campaign on Feb. 8 in Cathedral City, Calif., as the Lady Vols open the Cathedral City Kickoff against Utah State at 8:30 p.m. ET.