Kathy Riley’s Longwood Lancers will be departing for Knoxville, Tennessee today in preparation for the NCAA Softball Regionals beginning on Friday. What can we expect from the four teams taking to Lee Stadium this weekend? Here is a preview of the everything going down in Knoxville.
Tennessee Volunteers (44-10)
Best Pitchers: Ivy Renfroe- 17-4, 1.91 ERA, 125 SO; Ellen Renfroe- 16-4, 1.93 ERA, 161 SO
Best Hitters: Raven Chavanne- .471 avg, 7 HR, 31 RBI; Lauren Gibson- .429, 18 HR, 66 RBI
Breakdown: It’s all about the Renfroe family Ivy, Ellen, and Anna for the Volunteers. Ivy and Ellen pack one of the best 1-2 punches in the circle in the country. While they can shut down opposing offenses, the Volunteers also have two primetime threats in the batters box with Raven Chavanne and Lauren Gibson. Both players are finalists for the 2013 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year. In a stacked SEC the Volunteers had the conference Player of the Year (Gibson), four first teamers (Gibson, Chavanne, Madison Shipman, Kat Dotson), and four named to the all defensive team. In a hard hitting Regional defense may be the key and the Vols have it.
James Madison Dukes (41-15)
Best Pitchers: Jailyn Ford- 23-5, 1.66 ERA, 199 SO; Heather Kiefer- 14-7, 1.40 ERA, 61 SO
Best Hitters: Sarah Mooney- .413 avg, 17 HR, 67 RBI; Jailyn Ford- .375 avg, 14 HR, 45 RBI
Breakdown: James Madison became the first team ever from the Colonial Athletic Association to grab an at-large bid after falling to Hofstra in a 2-1 pitchers duel last weekend. The Dukes have a bona fide ace in CAA Freshman Player of the Year Jailyn Ford, who also packs a punch in the batters box with 14 home runs and 45 RBI. They also have CAA Player of the Year in sophomore Sarah Mooney, who gave pitchers fits this year. JMU has is a little less of a power team compared to the rest of the region, but the Dukes are for real and can possibly quiet some bats in Knoxville. Ford versus NC State’s power will be a fun watch on Friday.
North Carolina State Wolfpack (33-18-1)
Best Pitcher: Emily Weiman- 31-16, 1.92 ERA, 259 SO
Best Hitters: Renada Davis- .318 avg, 26 HR, 50 RBI; Hanna Sommer- .303 avg, 10 HR, 28 RBI; Caitlin Dent- .303 avg, 14 HR, 48 RBI; Kristy Grant- .301 avg, 6 HR, 20 RBI
Breakdown: The ACC Champions are all about the long ball and are likely the toughest batting lineup in Knoxville. The Wolfpack has combined for 86 home runs this year lead by Renada Davis, Caitlin Dent, and Scout Albertson. The Pack’s one weakness may be pitching depth. ACC Pitcher of the Year Emily Weiman has been phenomenal, but she’s basically the lone arm for NC State appearing in 50 of the Wolfpack’s 52 games.
Longwood Lancers (41-18)
Best Pitcher: Libby Morris- 21-8, 2.90 ERA, 90 SO
Best Hitters: Brooke Short- .430 avg, 18 HR, 69 RBI; Megan Batlzell- .420 avg, 30 HR, 78 RBI; Emily Murphy- .310, 14 HR, 68 RBI; Kori Nishitomi- .446 avg, 18 2B, 27 RBI
Breakdown: The Lancers will be making their first appearance in the NCAA Division I Tournament after winning the Big South Conference in their first year as a member. Meghan Baltzell leads the country in home runs with 30 and Big South Player of the Year Brooke Short will give opposing pitchers trouble at the plate in Knoxville. Longwood doesn’t have the arms to match the other three teams in the tournament, but Libby Morris has shown that she can be a workhorse and thrive under pressure situations. With their power, Longwood can make some noise if they take care of business in the field.
Friday, May 17
Game 1: James Madison vs. NC State, 3:30 p.m.
Game 2: Longwood vs. No. 7 Tennesse*, 6 p.m.
Saturday, May 18
Game 3: Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, 1:30 p.m.
Game 4: Game 1 loser Game 2 loser, 4 p.m.
Game 5: Game 3 loser vs. Game 4 loser, 6:30 p.m.
Sunday, May 19
Game 6: Game 3 winner vs. Game 5 winner, 1 p.m.
Game 7: Game 6 winner vs. Game 6 loser, 3:30 p.m. (if necessary)
Ticket Information (via UTSports)
All-Session Tickets for the NCAA Regional games hosted by Tennessee Friday, May 17 – Sunday, May 19 are CURRENTLY SOLD OUT. If seats are released after the season ticket holder and participating team order deadlines, All-Session packages will go on sale at 8:30 am Thursday, May 16. Single session tickets, if available, will be go on sale at Lee Stadium ticket windows Friday, May 17, when gates open at 2:30 pm. Gates open one (1) hour prior to first game. For the most up-to-date information about game times and inclement weather, call the SOFTBALL INFORMATION LINE at 865-946-4444 or follow @LadyVol_Sftball on Twitter.
Parking Information (via UTSports)
Parking is available adjacent to Sherri Parker Lee Stadium, which is located just off Neyland Drive. For complete directions, click here.