Undefeated Lady Vols softball heads to Michele Smith Invitational

The No. 10 Lady Vols softball team will travel to the Michele Smith Invitational in Clearwater, Fla. and will look to add to their undefeated resumé.

Photo by Brad Blackwelder.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee co-head coach Ralph Weekly watches a Tennessee batter from third base during the Vols' game against Campbell at Sherri Lee Parker Stadium on March 6, 2017.

The No. 10 Lady Vols softball team travels to Clearwater, Florida this weekend, but the team won’t have time to bask in the sunshine. The Lady Vols will face five different opponents in a three-day span.

The Lady Vols started the season hot in Arizona, as the team finished the Kajikawa Classic with a perfect record while scoring six or more runs in every game.

Tennessee will have its hands full in the upcoming tournament, beginning with a slate against a top-25 matchup against No. 19 Oklahoma State at 11 a.m. on Friday morning.

The team will also face UMass Lowell, Florida Atlantic, Marshall and the tournament host, South Florida.

The Big Orange found success in its last trip to the Michele Smith Invitational, boasting an impressive 4-1 record but losing to James Madison.

Potential Tournament MVP for Tennessee:

Look for Matty Moss to continue her hot start this season, tied for No. 1 in the nation with three wins. Moss, the sophomore from Greenville, South Carolina, made the All-SEC Freshman team in 2017 and finished the year with 193 strikeouts.

The Opponents:

Oklahoma State

Oklahoma State relies on senior Vanessa Shippy. Shippy posted an impressive six RBI’s in the same tournament from which Tennessee emerged undefeated.

The Cowgirls found success on offense by posting an impressive 12 home runs over the weekend – good for third in the country.

Oklahoma State finished the Kajikawa Classic 4-1 and scored a total of 51 runs.

The victory over No. 7 Arizona was the second defeat of a top-10 opponent since the Cowgirls downed No. 1 Florida in Gainesville last season during the NCAA Tournament.

UMass Lowell

This tournament welcomes the first matchup between the River Hawks and the Lady Vols.

Keep an eye on Courtney Cashman who batted .430 last season, leading the team and the conference.

Media picked the River Hawks to finish second in the American East this season.

Florida Atlantic

The Lady Owls boasted a 4-2 record hosting the First Pitch Classic last week. While preseason predictions put them in third, the Lady Owls will prove tough.

Senior Tatum Buckley, 3-0 in games this season, is not the player to watch in this matchup. Media picked Emily Lochten to win preseason player of the year for the conference.

Lochten posted absurd numbers last year while leading the team in batting average (.408), home runs (18) and RBI (41).

Look for Florida Atlantic to be a sneaky, tough matchup for the Lady Vols.

South Florida

South Florida, while only posting a 3-2 record in the USF-Wilson DeMarini Tournament, pulled a major upset with its win over No. 15 Michigan.

The Bulls return eight starters. The Lady Vols last played the Bulls in the 2016 Michele Smith Tournament, defeating them 6-4.


Marshall does not look forward to playing the Lady Vols. In a 5-1 upending of the Thundering Herd, Tennessee smashed Marshall 18-0 in five innings to close out the 2016 Easton Bama Bash Tournament.

The Thundering Herd started the season 1-3 with losses to No. 13 Auburn, Furman and Wichita State.

Watch for senior Elicia D’Orazio, who gets on base nearly every time she steps to the plate. D’Orazio finished the 2017 season with 73 hits and 49 runs.

Edited by Ben McKee

Feature image courtesy of Brad Blackwelder

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