KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A Tennessee team that was supposed to be a year away from serious contention has worked its way into the Women’s College World Series conversation, but talk is cheap when it comes to athletics.
Co-head coach Karen Weekly knows that better than anyone, and that’s why her and fellow co-head coach Ralph Weekly made it clear to the 2017 Lady Vols that they had their work cut out for them before this season even started.
The result was hard work and a No. 8 seed in the NCAA Tournament that guarantees Tennessee (44-10) won’t have to leave home through regional and super regional action, starting with Friday’s 7 p.m. game against Big South tourney champ Longwood (Va.).
Ohio State and USC-Upstate are the other two teams in the Knoxville regional.
“You don’t get anywhere in this life and achieve success in what you do without having a great work ethic,” Karen Weekly said. “This the hardest working team we’ve had at Tennessee.
“A lot of things people might think are shortcomings, our youth, our inexperience, you can overcome a lot with hard work.”
The Lady Vols are looking to bounce back from an embarrassing 6-2 loss in the SEC Softball Tournament last week to eventual tourney runner-up LSU.
Pitching, fielding and even SEC Softball Player of the Year Meghan Gregg fell flat in front of a capacity crowd at Lee Stadium, Gregg an uncharacteristic 0-for-3 at the plate including what was only her 12th strikeout of the year — at that, looking.
Gregg said the SEC Softball Tournament is something the Lady Vols will learn from, and she made it clear the team is not content with what is has accomplished after being picked in the preseason to finish sixth in the league.
Karen Weekly believes the WCWS is within the program’s grasp — the winner of the Knoxville NCAA Softball Regional plays the winner of the regional No. 9 seed Texas A&M is hosting
Here are the three keys that has put Tennessee in position to make what would be its 8th WCWS trip, according to Karen Weekly:
Tennessee Softball High Standard
• “No. 1 at Tennessee we always have high expectations and it’s all about getting to the world series, I don’t ever want us to think this isn’t our year that it will be next year.”
Tennessee Softball Leadership
• “No. 2 we have great leadership, even though we have young players on the field, we have excellent leadership, and that starts with Megan Geer and the presence she brings to our team.”
Tennessee Softball Resiliency
• “No. 3 I think our players respond to the challenges. When we have struggled and we’ve pointed out the things we need to get better at, they respond to that.”
Tennessee coaches Ralph & Karen Weekly and Lady Vols players Meghan Gregg and Megan Geer discuss NCAA Tournament
Posted by SEC Country on Sunday, May 14, 2017