BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The annual Southeastern Conference post-season awards have been announced and the No. 1 Tennessee Lady Vol softball team (53-4, 23-4 SEC) has dominated the list. The Big Orange recorded wins in four of the five major categories including Pitcher, Player, Scholar-Athlete and Coach of the Year with five first-team All-SEC selections and an All-Freshman choice.
Monica Abbott was unanimous in receiving her third SEC Pitcher of the Year honor (2004, 2005) after recording a 19-2 conference record. Lead-off hitter India Chiles was tabbed as the SEC Player of the Year after hitting .544 in league play. Lindsay Schutzler’s 3.88 GPA in psychology as well as her .406 average and team co-high 49 RBI garnered her the SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year award. Co-Head Coaches Ralph and Karen Weekly reaped their second SEC Coach of the Year trophy, after previously receiving the award in 2004, by guiding their charges to a 53-4 record, No. 1 in the polls, a top-seeding in the annual SEC Tournament and the program’s initial SEC regular-season championship.
In all, six members of the Big Orange were tabbed to either the first-team or freshman All-SEC squads. Seniors Abbott (Salinas, Calif.), Schutzler (Monterey, Calif.) and Chiles (Louisville, Ky.) and juniors Tonya Callahan (Holden, Mo.) and Shannon Doepking (Acton, Calif.) each reaped a first-team nod as the Big Orange owned 42% of the 12-member first-team. Rookie Tiffany Huff (Saugus, Calif.) also received one of the 14 All-Freshman selections.
This standout group of players have helped guide Tennessee to 12 total weeks at No. 1 in the national polls during the ’07 campaign, the program’s first SEC regular season championship, a top-seed in this week’s upcoming SEC Tournament in Auburn, Ala., and a program-best 53-4 record. UT currently guides NCAA Division I in earned run average (0.79) and fielding percentage (.987) while rating second in stolen bases per game (2.49) and sixth in team batting average (.330).
Currently guiding the SEC in batting average at .476 and in league games only at .544, Chiles has continued her rapid improvement during her senior campaign to reap her initial nod as a first-team All-SEC performer while adding the prestigious SEC Player of the Year trophy to her growing resume. Expected to reach base and wreak havoc, the Louisville, Ky., native has caused chaos on the base paths this season as well as anyone in the history of Tennessee’s program. She currently leads the UT record books in batting average at .420, to stand .022 of a point ahead of former two-time All-American Sarah Fekete (.398), and on-base percentage (.458 – first), while her 81 total stolen bases are good for third in Lady Vol history. Chiles also continues to climb the record books in career runs (154 – sixth) and hits (193 – 10th). She recorded a .633 (8-of-12) mark for No. 1 Tennessee at Kentucky and hit .562 during a four-game stretch with a school record four stolen bases in UT’s 9-4 series-closing victory over UK to receive her first SEC Player of the Week honor back on April 16.
One of only 12 players in NCAA Division I history to register 300 hits, 200 runs scored and 100 stolen bases in her playing career, Schutzler picks up her third overall All-SEC selection and second straight first-team choice. The Monterey, Calif., native’s name is prominent among the current league stats at fourth in the conference in batting average at .406, second in triples (5 - tied), fourth in RBI (49 – tied), fifth in on-base percentage (.473) and runs scored (46 - tied) and sixth in stolen bases with 33. The senior center fielder leads the UT record books in career hits (344), runs (231), stolen bases (114), total bases (463) and triples (20) while rating fourth overall in career batting average (.385) and on-base percentage (.447) and sixth in RBI (152). Schutzler is also one of 11 remaining finalists for the prestigious USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year trophy and one of 20 finalists for the inaugural Senior CLASS award.
The NCAA Division I career leader in wins, shutouts, games played and strikeouts as well as a four-time All-SEC selection and three-time SEC Pitcher of the Year, Abbott is currently registering a K-per-seven inning ratio of 14.6 to remain well above her career average of 11.7. The 6-3 lefthander currently guides the SEC in ERA (0.65), strikeouts (560), solo shutouts (21), starts (38), complete games (33) and opposing batting average (.102). Abbott registered the fourth-longest shutout streak of all-time at 96.1 frames from Feb. 10-March 11, 2007, and has also struck out the side a staggering 101 times this year. Abbott is currently listed among the NCAA Division I career top four in starts (192 -- second), complete games (166 – second) and innings pitched (1,358.2 – third). She made history this past weekend against then-No. 1 Alabama with a first-inning punch out against freshman Charlotte Morgan during a 9-2 win to break former Texas hurler Cat Osterman’s career strikeout record with K number 2,266. Abbott is the only pitcher in history to strikeout 500 or more during all four years of her collegiate career and at 40-2 in 2007 has gone over 40 triumphs during each campaign of her time spent in the Orange & White. Abbott is one of 11 remaining finalists for the prestigious USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year trophy.
In picking up her second consecutive first-team All-SEC selection, junior first baseman Callahan is fresh off her best weekend of the season in the doubleheader sweep of then-No. 1 Alabama. The Holden, Mo., native hit .833 (5-of-6) with her team-high 10th home run and six RBI as UT rolled the Tide, 9-2 and 4-0. For her efforts, she just swept the major weekly awards including the USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Week, NFCA Player of the Week and SEC Player of the Week honors (5/7-5/9). Callahan heads the Lady Vol record books for home runs with 34 career round trippers while rating second in slugging percentage (.599), eighth in hits (196), ninth in doubles (36) and in a tie for 10th in batting average (.349). She enters play at this weekend’s SEC Tournament third on the team in batting average at .399 with 12 doubles, 10 home runs and a team co-best 49 RBI.
Junior catcher Shannon Doepking received her initial first-team All-SEC selection by setting the standard for clutch-hitting for the Lady Vol softball team in 2007 with five game-winning RBIs since March 14. Her efforts began at Ole Miss in the first game of a DH on March 14 by knocking in Tennessee’s lone run in the seventh inning of a 1-0 victory. The Acton, Calif., native continued her heroics on March 17 against Mississippi State with a walk-off double to left center in UT’s 2-1, eight-inning win. Then came the first match-up versus South Carolina on March 21 as Doepking blasted a game-winning walk-off two-run homer to deep left in the bottom of the seventh inning during the Big Orange’s 2-0 triumph. Most recently against Auburn, Doepking delivered a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the eighth inning of a 2-1, extra-inning win (April 21) and blasted a grand slam in the sixth inning during the finale to break a 1-1 tie as Tennessee completed a sweep of AU on April 22. She has registered a .303 average with seven doubles, four HR’s and 22 RBIs this season counting all games and a .310 mark with 13 RBI in SEC contests. She has thrown out 47% of base runners attempting to steal against her from behind the plate in 2007.
All-Freshman selection Huff has made quite a splash in her inaugural season donning the Orange & White by registering a .343 average while spending the majority of the season ranked in the top five in the Southeastern Conference in RBI with her team co-leading total of 49. The Saugus, Calif., native has hit safely in 33 of her first 47 collegiate contests with two six-game hitting streaks and has blasted six home runs with a .521 slugging percentage. Back during Tennessee’s marathon 11-game west coast swing in late February, prior to having to miss two weeks due to ankle surgery, Huff hit a remarkable .448 (13-of-29) with two doubles, three homers and 20 RBI to help UT continue its unbeaten start. She also tallied a .538 batting average with two home runs and 10 RBI during the Big Orange’s title run at the Louisville Slugger Desert Classic over Feb. 16-18. Huff delivered a career-best four RBI in wins over UC-Davis, Loyola Marymount (grand slam HR) and Toledo.
The top-seeded Tennessee Lady Vol softball team will open defense of its 2006 SEC Tournament title against No. 8 seed Ole Miss in Auburn, Ala., on Thursday, May 10, at 8:30 p.m. ET. Live stats will be available through utladyvols.com, and periodic updates will be provided to the Lady Vol Hotline at 865-974-8700 (box #6). UT’s run at the SEC Tournament will be broadcast live by The Sports Animal (99.1, 99.3 FM, 990 AM, through utladyvols.com via Yahoo Sports) with the “Voice of the Lady Vols” Mickey Dearstone on the call.
2007 SEC Softball Awards
Scholar Athlete: Lindsay Schutzler, Tennessee
Pitcher of the Year: Monica Abbott, Tennessee
Player of the Year: India Chiles, Tennessee
Freshman of the Year: Chelsea Bramlett, Mississippi State
Coaches of the Year: Ralph and Karen Weekly, Tennessee
Monica Abbott – Pitcher, Tennessee
Dani Hofer – Pitcher, LSU
Shannon Doepking – Catcher, Tennessee
Tonya Callahan – Infield, Tennessee
Lauren Parker – Infield, Alabama
Courtney Bures – Infield, Mississippi State
Kim Waleszonia – Infield, Florida
India Chiles – Outfield, Tennessee
Lindsay Schutzler – Outfield, Tennessee
Brittany Rogers – Outfield, Alabama
Kellie Middleton – Outfield, Georgia
Jordan Praytor – Designated/Utililty Player, Alabama
Chrissy Owens – Pitcher, Alabama
Stacey Nelson – Pitcher, Florida
Killian Roessner – Catcher, LSU
Charlotte Morgan – Infield, Alabama
Brooke Marnitz – Infield, Kentucky
Ashley Acuri – Infield, Auburn
Melissa Zick – Infield, Florida
Leslie Klein - Outfield, LSU
Dani Woods – Outfield, Alabama
Hayle Guess – Outfield, Mississippi State
Jazz Jackson – Outfield, LSU
Chelsea Bramlett – Designated/Utility Player, Mississippi State
Charlotte Morgan, Alabama
Anna Thompson, Auburn
Jazz Jackson, LSU
Chelsea Bramlett, Mississippi State
Jessica Bachkora, Arkansas
Lauren Grill, Ole Miss
Tiffany Huff, Tennessee
Molly Johnson, Kentucky
Natalie Smith, Kentucky
Rachel Mitchell, LSU
Miranda Dixon, Arkansas
Francesca Enea, Florida
Ashley Dowdy, Ole Miss
Jessie Bailey, Mississippi State