By Ed Greif
The University of Tennessee Lady Vols softball team will be one of t he favorites to contend for the 2014 national championship, after finishing second to the Oklahoma Sooners in the College World Series in Oklahoma City Tuesday night.
Coach Karen and Ralph Weekly's seventh-seeded team lost 5-3 in that 12-inning marathon to the Sooners Monday night and then lost 4-0 Tuesday night to finish second, after going unbeaten in the double-elemination round of the tournament.
The Lady Vols finished up the season at 52-12 overall, and will graduate Raven Chavanne, Lauren Gibson, Ivy Renfroe, Kat Dotson, Melissa Brown and Whitney Hammond.
Ellen Renfroe and Madison Shipman will be among the leaders of the team for 2014.
According to the Lady Vol website, Ralph Weekly's record is now 1,119-369-2 and Karen Weekly's is 841-785-2. They started as co-head coaches at Chattanooga for five years, while Ralph Weekly was head coach at Pacific Lutheran for nine years before he and Karen moved to Chattanooga.
You made the Big Orange Nation proud by going to the CWS and will be one of the favorites in 2014 to return to Oklahoma City.
Also, the Vanderbilt Commodores will be hosting the Louisville Cardinals in the best two out of three games in one of eight super regionals this weekend. The 'Dores are looking for another trip to the College World Series in Omaha, NE, next week.
Several former 'Dore baseball players are making names for themselves in the majors including Atlanta pitcher Mike Minor, Tampa Bay hurler David Price and Pittsburgh third baseman Pedro Alvarez. In fact, the Braves swept the three-game series with Pittsburgh this week in Atlanta.
The 15th Golf Capital of Tennessee State Women's Open, sponsored by the city of Crossville and played at Stonehenge in Fairfield Glade, will return in 2014 and 2015, which gives golf fans the opportunity see some of the best amateurs and professionals from around the Southeast.
The tournament was played at Bear Trace Cumberland Mountain from 2004-2008, and has been at Stonehenge since 2009. Courtney Wood (2002, 2005) is the only two-time winner of the tournament since it began in 1999, and no one has posted back-to-back victories.
Six of 14 previous winners have been amateurs, including the last two — Kendall Martindale (2011) and Lauren Stratton (2012). Both are teammates at Vanderbilt University. According to the TGA Thursday morning, Stratton has entered the tournament as a professional, joining 41 others for the July 19-21 tournament.
Last year's low professional, Mo Martin, is currently 30th on the LPGA money list.
Players represent nine states — Florida, Texas, Tennessee, South Carolina, Alabama, Kentucky, Virginia, Missouri and Michigan — and one foreign country — Australia. I expect those numbers will increase, as the July 3 entry deadline approaches.
Over the last couple of years, there have been large crowds watching the ladies from various points around the course and on the lake which borders the par 3, 14th hole, and par 5, 15th hole. The largest number of people sit behind the 18th green.
Golf Channel is missing the boat by not having cameras at Stonehenge, as many of the young professionals are future LPGA stars.
Ed Greif is the Chronicle sports editor and his column appears regularly.)