Though the 2012 season may be over, three University of Tennessee softball players will keep on playing as members of Team USA, highlighted by rising senior Lauren Gibson being named to the U.S. Women's National Team for the second consecutive year.
A constant in the infield serving as UT's second baseman, Gibson started in all 66 contests during the 2012 season. She was tremendous both in the field and at the plate, only committing two miscues for the top-rated defense in the country along with posting a .314 batting average to go along with 54 runs scored, seven doubles, a team-best 13 home runs.
Tabbed an All-American in each of the last two seasons, Gibson also swiped 16 bags, posted 46 RBIs and registered 12 multi-hit and 10 multi-RBI games.
"Lauren Gibson is a solid player with international experience who played for the U.S. Women's Team last year and was very instrumental in it winning several gold medals," Tennessee Co-Head Coach Ralph Weekly said. "We are proud of Lauren. She represents UT softball, the University of Tennessee and our country in the best possible manner all the time."
Having been chosen again for a spot on the prominent squad, Gibson is one of three Lady Vols to ever suit up for the national team, as Kelly Grieve and 2008 Olympic Silver Medalist Monica Abbott have also represented their country at the highest level.
As a member of Team USA in 2011, Gibson won gold at the World Cup of Softball VI in Oklahoma City, Okla., and at the Pan Am Games held in Guadalajara, Mexico.
The Pasadena, Md., native played in five contests with four starts at the World Cup of Softball, recording hits against Japan and Great Britain. In the final versus Team Japan, she entered the match-up for the U.S. as a defensive replacement. In the finale of the Pan Am Games, Gibson belted a first-inning home run and scored three runs in a dominating 11-1 (4 inn.) victory over Canada.
The USA Women's National team will compete in six different events in the United States and Canada. Fans in the United States will get four opportunities to see the team in action with two exhibition stops scheduled as well as the Title IX 40th Anniversary Celebration Game against Canada on June 23 and the World Cup of Softball VII presented by Lumber Liquidators, June 27- July 2, in Oklahoma City.
Following the World Cup, the Women's National Team is slated to compete July 4-9 at the Canadian Open Fast Pitch International Championship in Surrey, B.C., Canada, and July 13-22 at the International Softball Federation (ISF) Women's World Championship in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada.
Tennessee will also have a pair of standouts on the USA Elite team in rising juniors Ellen Renfroe and Madison Shipman.
A First-Team All-American for Tennessee in the circle, Renfroe boasted a phenomenal 27-5 overall record with a 1.24 ERA in 2012. She pitched 15 solo shutouts and registered 280 strikeouts over 231 innings of work while allowing opponents to hit at just a .179 clip.
Renfroe holds six career wins over teams ranked #1, #2 or #3, including handing #1 Alabama its first loss of the season back on March 21 (5-2) and blanking #1 and defending national champion Arizona State (3-0) in Tempe, Ariz., on Feb. 11. She also three-hit third-ranked Florida, punching out a season-high 15 batters during a 1-0 shutout on March 11.
Joining Gibson as the other half of Tennessee's potent middle infield combo, Shipman was one of nation's best RBI producers, tallying 63 on the year and a conference-best 33 in league matchups. Serving as the squad's starting shortstop in all 66 games, Shipman committed just five errors in 183 chances.
Hailing from Valencia, Calif., Shipman blasted a team-best 18 multi-RBI games to go along with 17 multi-hit efforts. She posted a .311 batting average with 11 doubles, two triples, 10 HRs and 21 stolen bases.
"Ellen and Madison are both young players who are involved with the Elite team, which is our number one developmental team, for the first time this year," Weekly stated. "They both have a tremendous future with USA Softball and both played really well at the trials."
Members of the USA Elite team will participate in a series of exhibition games over the course of the next six days in Summersville, W.Va. (June 14) and Ashland, Ohio (June 18).