During the SEC softball season, the Shine In The Moment series highlighted softball student-athletes who excelled in the areas of academics, athletics and community service. Below are the stories on each of the 13 league softball teams.
Shine In The Moment: Softball
SEC Softball has given its legion of fans much to cheer for again this season as the power league has nine teams---out of 13---ranked among the nation's top 25. Collegiate softball's two major polls are the USA Today/National Fastpitch Coaches Association Coaches' Top 25 and the ESPN.com/USA Softball rankings.
In the coaches' poll, Florida is No. 5, Alabama is No. 6, Tennessee is No. 8, Kentucky is No. 10, Missouri is No. 13, Georgia is No. 16, Auburn is No. 20, Texas A&M is No. 24 and LSU rounds out the poll at No. 25. In the ESPN.com/USA Softball rankings, it's Alabama at No. 5, Florida at No. 7, Tennessee at No. 9, Kentucky at No. 11, Missouri at No. 15, Georgia at No. 18, Auburn at No. 20, LSU at No. 23 and Texas A&M at No. 25.
As we celebrate another successful season and what looks to be another lucrative postseason for the SEC, we thought we'd share some fun notes about the women and the teams that make up SEC Softball.
- Going into the beginning of the week, there have been 52 grand slams around the league: Alabama (4), Arkansas (2), Auburn (6), Florida (7), Georgia (5), Kentucky (3), LSU (3), Ole Miss (3), Mississippi State (4), Missouri (4), South Carolina (3), Tennessee (3), and Texas A&M (5). Florida's Taylore Fuller led all players with three this season.
- Top 10-ranked Florida, who's roster contains an already 3-time All-American and All-SEC player in Hannah Rogers, has advanced to the Women's College World Series five times already and has been ranked in the final national polls for seven consecutive seasons.
- Kentucky's Kelsey Nunley set the school record for wins with 27 last season and had 20 at week's beginning this season, the second most in school history---behind, of course, her own record.
- LSU has clinched a berth and made the field at the SEC softball tournament every season since 1997.
- Tennessee began the week with a 9-2 record against ranked opponents this season, aided largely by its all-everything hurler, senior pitcher Ellen Renfroe who, as of last weekend, had struck out 200 batters.
- Missouri's Taylor Gadbois holds the school record for longest hitting streak. The outfielder went into this week with hits in 29 straight games this season, shattering the old mark by 19, set by Mizzou 3-time All-American, Rhea Taylor.
- Ole Miss senior outfielder RT Cantillo was selected by the Chicago Bandits in the fifth round of the National Pro Fastpitch Collegiate Draft on March 31, and Carlie Hummel threw the first perfect game in school history on March 3, striking out 12 batters in seven innings against Utah State at a neutral site. Barely a week later, she and Shelby Jo Fenter and Madi Osias teamed for the school's first combined no-hitter, making school history in a game against Louisiana Tech by retiring the first 19 batters.
- The SEC boasts a trio of Fagan sisters, all on different teams. How's that for parental stress in the stands? Junior infielder Kasey Fagan plays for Arkansas. Sami plays for Missouri and Haley for Auburn. Their dad, Kevin Fagan, is a former NFL defensive end, playing seven seasons, 1987-93, for the San Francisco 49ers.
- Alabama's Kallie Case's father, Scott, played 12 seasons in the NFL. And her mom and sister, in softball, and her brother, in baseball, all played in college.
- Auburn first baseman Jade Rhodes' father, Arthur, played for 10 Major League Baseball teams in a career highlighted in 2011 with the World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals.
- Georgia's Paige Wilson's sister, Jessi, played softball at York College of Nebraska, and Geri Ann Glasco's older sister, Tara, is Georgia's pitching coach. Tara played softball at Southern Illinois-Carbondale. Another Glasco sister, Erin, played for Texas A&M on an Aggies squad that finished national runner up...Katie Browne's older sister, Jessie, plays at Southeastern Louisiana...Maeve McGuire's older sister, Nora, plays for Buffalo and their younger sister, Rowan, has signed on to play for Georgia Southern next season...Malie River's father, Ron, played in the NFL for the Lions and the Falcons and college football at Fresno State.
- Kentucky's Krystal Smith's sister, Hailey Smith, plays softball for LSU...Kara Howard's sister, Kaylan, played at Oregon...Emily Jolly's older sister, Megan, played softball for the Wildcats, lettering from 2007-08...Shannon Smith's sister, Andrea, played softball at Long Island University Post and now at Framingham State...Ansley Smith's brother, Chase, played football in North Dakota at the University of Mary, and Maisie Steed's mom, Leigh, played softball at Kennesaw State...Sylver Samuel's father, Ruperto, played football at Kansas, and her mom, Yolanda, was a cheerleader for the Jayhawks. Both her grandfather and uncle played baseball in leagues in the Dominican Republic...Darington Richardson's father, Max, played football at the University of Michigan where her mother, Donna, played basketball...Emily Jolly's dad, Kerry, played baseball for the Wildcats...Griffin Joiner's father, David, played baseball and basketball at Vanderbilt and pro baseball in the New York Mets organization...Ginny Carroll comes from Wildcats' lineage as her father, Chris, played baseball for Kentucky. Her mom, Nina, played basketball at Lipscomb.
- Mississippi State's Mackenzie Toler's sister, Whitney, plays at the University of Alabama-Huntsville where her coach is Les Stuedeman, sister of Mackenzie's MSU coach Vann Stuedeman...Julia Echols' brother, Taylor, plays basketball at Georgia...Caroline Seitz's father played basketball and baseball at Texas and helped Texas win the 1983 College World Series (against Alabama). Her mom was a cheerleader at the University of Alabama-Birmingham...Rachael Zdeb's father, Joe, played for the Kansas City Royals from 1977-79...Alexis Silkwood's mom, Staci, was a pitcher in college and used to coach Alexis.
- Ole Miss' Emily Boyd's sister, Sarah, is a distance athlete at South Carolina Upstate...RT Cantillo's sister, Chelsea, played softball for Georgia...Londen Ladner's dad, Stewart, played football at Southern Miss...Jamie Morgan's dad, John, played baseball at Dixie College...Miranda Strother's mom, Sonja, played softball at Cameron University.
- South Carolina's family ties include current sister teammates and starters, Ashlyn and Lauren Masters. . .Julie Sarratt's brother, Justin, played baseball at Clemson. . .Sarah Mooney's father, William, played baseball and her mom, Donna, played basketball at Concord...Olivia Lawrence's brother, Andrew, played baseball at North Greenville, and Chelsea Hawkins' aunt, Tia Rogers, played softball for the Gamecocks from 2002-04...Dana Hathorn's SEC lineage goes three deep. Her dad, Jim, played baseball at LSU from 1977-79. Her grandfather, Conley Hathorn, was an All-SEC basketball player at LSU, lettering from 1935-38...Even student-assistant Samie Garcia has ties. Her cousin, Jacoby Ellsbury, is New York Yankee.
- Many of the league's players have not only crossed paths on the diamond growing up, they've also been teammates of other players in the league. Alabama's Kaila Hunt and South Carolina's Ashlyn Masters were teammates at Greenbrier High School in Evans, Ga...Crimson Tide seniors Ryan Iamurri and Jaclyn Traina both hail from Naples, Fla., and have been playing in leagues and teams together since they were six. The long-time teammates have reached the pinnacle at every level, from the Little League World Series (Ryan's dad was their coach) to the Women's College World Series national championship (2012)...Florida's Delanie Gourley's travel team, SoCal Athletics, defeated her Gators' teammate Justine McLean's travel ball team, Team Mizuno, in the 2013 PGF 18U national championship game...Kentucky's Breanne Ray and Mississippi State's Alexis Silkwood have been travel ball teammates.
Special thanks to the SEC's softball communications contacts, Nathan Sheehan (Alabama), Zach Lawson (Arkansas), John Thomas (Auburn), Ryan Schmitz (Florida), Jen Galas (Georgia), Evan Crane (Kentucky), Clyde Verdin (LSU), Metz Camfield (Ole Miss), Sarah Fetters (Mississippi State), Patrick Crawford (Missouri), Koby Padgett (South Carolina), Stephen Lee (Tennessee) and Meredith Collier (Texas A&M) and SEC softball contact Tammy Wilson for providing these notes.