OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (release) - The Tennessee Lady Vol softball team (31-9, 13-6 Southeastern Conference) boasts two of the Top 25 national finalists for the 2012 USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year trophy in junior third baseman Raven Chavanne and sophomore pitcher Ellen Renfroe according to a Wednesday release from the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America.
Considered the most prestigious honor in Division I women's collegiate softball, the award is designed to recognize outstanding athletic achievement by female collegiate softball players across the country. Now in its 11th year, past winners of the honor include UCLA's Stacey Nuveman, Florida State's Jessica Van der Linden, three-time winner Texas pitcher Cat Osterman, Tennessee's Monica Abbott, Virginia Tech's Angela Tincher, two-time winner Washington's Danielle Lawrie and Stanford shortstop Ashley Hansen.
Tennessee softball has now boasted at least one student-athlete among the Top 25 finalists for USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year for nine consecutive seasons, including former and current Lady Vol All-Americans such as Monica Abbott (2004-07), Sarah Fekete (2006), Lindsay Schutzler (2007), Tonya Callahan (2008), Tiffany Huff (2009), Chavanne (2010, 2011) and Kat Dotson (2011).
Lady Vol junior second baseman and 2011 Louisville Slugger/NFCA All-American Lauren Gibson had been listed among the original Top 50 on the preseason "Watch List." The Pasadena Md., native and current member of the USA Softball Senior Women's National Team failed to make the cut down to the final 25 candidates, however, despite hitting .325 overall with 40 runs scored, five doubles, a career-best 12 HR's, 33 walks and 33 RBIs while slugging at a .675 clip over 41 contests.
After missing the first eight games of her junior season with a broken thumb, Chavanne, a two-time Louisville Slugger/NFCA All-American, has picked up where she left off as a sophomore, leading the Big Orange and rating third in the SEC with a .411 batting average to go along with 26 runs scored, 46 hits (eighth in league), two doubles, three triples and 20 stolen bases (third in the SEC). The Thousand Oaks, Calif., native currently guides the Big Orange with 16 multi-hit games and has now reached base successfully in each of Tennessee's last 21 contests venturing into the series with #22/21 LSU over April 13-15.
A 2011 Louisville Slugger/NFCA All-American, Ellen Renfroe continues to make her mark as one of the top pitchers in the nation as a sophomore. The Jackson, Tenn., product currently leads all of NCAA Division I in shutouts with 13, while leading the SEC in innings pitched (171.2) and strikeouts (227), rating second in opposing batting average (.172) and wins (21) and fourth in ERA (1.14). The 6-0 right hander has hurled an impressive 18 complete games in her 23 starts, has totaled at least 10 strikeouts in eight contests and even tossed her first career no-hitter as UT topped Furman on March 27, 8-0 (6 inn.).
The Top 25 list represents 17 schools and eight different NCAA Division I Conferences and is comprised of 13 seniors, seven juniors, four sophomores and one freshman. While California and Oklahoma guide the way with three athlete representatives each, Alabama, Florida, Tennessee and Washington all have two members included among the Top 25 Finalists.
The 2012 USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year will be chosen from this list of 25 finalists. Just days before the start of post-season play, a list of 10 finalists will be named and released on May 9. The three finalists will be announced May 23 while the winner of the 2012 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Award will be named on May 29 prior to the start of the annual NCAA Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City.
Tennessee's Abbott was the recipient of the 2007 USA National Player of the Year trophy on the basis of an outstanding season that saw her record a 50-5 mark with a 0.68 ERA and a national single-season record 724 strikeouts. During the year the Salinas, Calif., native also broke the career NCAA records for wins, appearances, innings pitched, shutouts and strikeouts while guiding the Big Orange to a national runner-up finish at the Women's College World Series. Callahan was a top three finalist for the prestigious trophy in 2008 after tallying a .465 batting average, to lead the SEC, a school, single-season record 16 home runs and 62 RBIs.
2012 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Top 25 Finalists
Name (School) - Year - Position - Hometown
Raven Chavanne (Tennessee) - Junior - Third Base/Outfield - Thousand Oaks, Calif.
Ellen Renfroe (Tennessee) - Sophomore - Pitcher - Jackson, Tenn.
Valerie Arioto (California) - Senior - Utility - Pleasanton, Calif.
Lexy Bennett (Texas) - Senior - Infield - Kingwood, Texas
Katelyn Boyd (Arizona State) - Senior - Shortstop - Phoenix, Ariz.
Kayla Braud (Alabama) - Junior - Outfield - Eugene, Ore.
Lauren Chamberlain (Oklahoma) - Freshman - Infield - Trabuco Canyon, Calif.
Rachele Fico (LSU) - Junior - Pitcher - Oxford, Conn.
Ashley Hansen (Stanford) - Senior - Infield - Chandler, Ariz.
Jolene Henderson (California) - Junior - Pitcher/First base - Elk Grove, Calif.
Kaitlin Inglesby (Washington) - Sophomore - Pitcher/First Base - Portland, Ore.
Ashley McClain (FIU) - Senior - Outfield/Pitcher - Brandon, Fla.
Michelle Moultrie (Florida) - Senior - Center field - Jacksonville, Fla.
Sara Nevins (South Florida) - Sophomore - Pitcher - Pinellas Park, Fla.
Christi Orgeron (ULL) - Senior - Outfield - New Orleans, La.
Sara Plourde (UMass) - Senior - Pitcher - Bristol, Conn.
Kimi Pohlman (Washington) - Senior - Outfield - Sammamish, Wash.
Jamia Reid (California) - Senior - Outfield - Buena Park, Calif.
Keilani Ricketts (Oklahoma) - Junior - Pitcher - San Jose, Calif.
Hannah Rogers (Florida) - Senior - Pitcher - Lake Wales, Fla.
Jordan Rutkowski (Valparaiso) - Senior - Catcher/Outfield - Alden, N.Y.
Jessica Shults (Oklahoma) - Junior - Catcher - Valencia, Calif.
Chelsea Thomas (Missouri) - Redshirt Junior - Pitcher - Pleasantville, Iowa
Jackie Traina (Alabama) - Sophomore - Pitcher/Designated player - Naples, Fla.
Delaney Willard (BYU) - Senior - Outfield - Camarillo, Calif.