Softball team signs stellar class

Tennessee co-head coaches Ralph and Karen Weekly and the University of Tennessee softball program announced the signings of four student-athletes to National Letters of Intent for the 2007-08 academic school year

Signees include Kelly Grieve (Asheville, N.C./Enka H.S.), Chandra Mogan (Fontana, Calif./Fontana H.S.), Kelsey Stander (Paradise Valley, Ariz./Chaparral H.S.) and Ashton Ward (Charlotte, N.C./Butler H.S.).

"We were looking for a small class with speed and outstanding athletic ability," Lady Vol Co-Head Coaches Ralph and Karen Weekly said. "We also wanted a strong pitcher who plays other positions. With these goals in mind, we could not be happier, because we got the players we wanted. All four are strong in the classroom as each has won scholar-athlete honors in high school and two of them have perfect 4.0 GPA's."

A three-sport athlete in cross country, basketball and softball at Enka High School in Asheville, N.C., Grieve has excelled not only on the diamond, but in the classroom as an A-Honor Roll student, a North Carolina Scholar and a member of the National Honor Society.

A speedster on the basepaths, she has never been caught stealing during her high school career. She was chosen the North Carolina 3A All-State Player of the Year-West in 2006 after hitting .494 with 36 runs scored, 22 stolen bases, an on-base percentage of .637, a .742 slugging percentage, seven doubles, three triples and three home runs during her junior campaign while helping guide Enka to a 22-1 record and a Mountain Athletic Conference (MAC) title.

Grieve is a three-time All-Western North Carolina and a three-time All-MAC selection during her playing career. She also helped her summer ball team, the Cabarrus County Challengers, to second in the 2006 ASA State Tournament in N.C., qualifying the squad for nationals. She is also a cousin to Chicago White Sox outfielder Ben Grieve, a nine-year veteran of Major League Baseball and the 1998 American League Rookie of the Year.

"One of the fastest players we have ever recruited to Tennessee," the Weeklys said. "Kelly is a left-handed hitter with a great blend of speed and power. She reminds us of former UT All-American center fielder Sarah Fekete. Kelly is a tough player."

Another stellar student with California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) academic honors and numerous student-athlete awards during her stay at Fontana High School in Fontana, Calif., Mogan has helped guide her squad to three consecutive Citrus Belt League titles.

A three-time first-team All-Citrus League, all-county and 2006 first-team CIF selection, she has reaped three straight Silver Slugger awards while establishing school career records for most singles (123), most runs scored (104), most stolen bases (61) and highest batting average (.495). Her averages have been eye-popping during her three-year high school career as she hit .472 in 2004, .522 in '05 and .493 in 2006.

Mogan has spent her summers playing softball for the prestigious Corona Angels, qualifying for numerous ASA Gold National Tournaments.

"Channie has been a one or two-hitter for the Corona Angels since their national championship in 2003," the Weeklys said. "She is an excellent left-handed hitter with speed and possesses a wealth of experience in big games. She is a very good defensive player and a leader on the field."

A multitalented student-athlete at Chaparral High School in Paradise Valley, Ariz., Stander has received numerous academic awards such as the A1A Scholar-Athlete Award from 2003-06 and even reaped first place in the Dolly Rosenbloom State Writing Contest (2004) and the 2006 Arizona State Fair Art Contest.

On the diamond she has helped guide her squad to three consecutive region titles while picking up a pair of all-region selections (2005, 2006) and a second-team all-state nod in 2006. Stander also reaped honorable mention selections to the all-state (2005) and all-region (2004) teams.

The two-time Chaparral captain also boasts a 2.6 time from home to first base. During summer ball she has helped guide the Arizona Suncats to 18U-Gold Nationals and has previously registered stellar batting averages of .500 at the Champions Cup and 18U-Gold Nationals and .700 in the Boulder (Colo.) Showcase. Her team finished fifth in the Surf City SPARQ Showcase.

"Kelsey is a very fast left-handed power slapper who hit exceptionally well at Gold Nationals this past summer," the Weeklys said. "She has the ability to stretch the defense both at the plate and on the bases."

A pitcher boasting a perfect 4.0 GPA and numerous honor roll selections at Butler High School in Charlotte, N.C., Ward's star has shone brightly on both the softball diamond and the basketball court.

Named to the 2006 EA Sports All-American Softball Team, the two-time Charlotte Observer and Charlotte Weekly Player of the Year as well as the 2006 Western North Carolina Player of the Year and the N.C. State Tournament Most Valuable Player boasts an overall record of 43-1 in the circle with ERA's of 0.00 in both 2004 and 2005 and a 0.02 ERA in 2006.

A three-time first-team all-state, all-conference and all-Mecklenburg County choice in North Carolina, she has also been solid at the dish by posting batting averages of .412, .434 and .508 in consecutive seasons while guiding her team to three conference regular-season and tournament championships.

On the hardwood, the 6'0 Ward was chosen as the '06 Offensive Player of the Year while leading her hoops squad to a conference title. She was also an all-conference basketball selection as well as the Butler H.S. Team MVP in 2005. She has guided her Carolina Lady Blues summer ball program to three ASA 18U-Gold National Tournament berths as well as ASA State and National Qualifier titles in 2005.

"Ashton is a power pitcher," the Weeklys said. "She is also extremely athletic and has the ability to be an everyday player on defense. She can hit for both power and average."

Coming off its second consecutive trip to the Women's College World Series and another third-place national finish, the 2007 version of the Lady Vol softball team will christen the new season at the North Carolina Classic Tournament in Chapel Hill, N.C., over Feb 9-11.

Tennessee will face East Carolina in its opener on Feb. 9th at 10 a.m. ET in the fourth all-time meeting between the two schools (UT leads 2-1).

(Photos courtesy of UT Lady Vols Media Relations.)

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