The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference
The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference

Tennessee Softball Coaches Honored by NFCA

112 days ago
Tennessee Athletics
Photo: Tennessee Athletics

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (June 8, 2023) - After leading Tennessee softball to a 51-win season, two SEC titles and the Women's College World Series, the Lady Vols' coaching staff has been named the ATEC/NFCA Southeast Region Coaching Staff of the Year.

Led by head coach Karen Weekly, Tennessee captured its first SEC regular season championship since 2007 and its first SEC Tournament title since 2011. The Lady Vols won both crowns in the same season for the first time in program history.

UT also secured its first 50-win season and reached the national semifinals at the WCWS for the first time since 2013. The trip to the WCWS was its first since 2015 and its eighth in program history.

Weekly was named the SEC Coach of the Year for the third time after UT led the SEC wire-to-wire en route to a 19-5 conference record. Under her guidance, the Lady Vols earned a No. 4 national seed in the NCAA Tournament - the highest seeding in program history.

Fearsome at the plate and in the circle, assistant coach Chris Malveaux led an offense that scored 6.87 runs per game - best in the SEC and third nationally. Senior Kiki Milloy set a single-season school record for home runs with 25 - a mark that also led the nation.

Sophomore McKenna Gibson had a breakout season as she set career-bests in average (.362), OPS (1.232), runs (36), hits (59), doubles (11), home runs (15), RBIs (60), slugging (.718), walks (39) and on-base percentage (.514). She also recorded multiple RBIs in 14 games and ended the season on a 23-game reached base streak.

Both Milloy and Gibson were named NFCA All-Americans in 2023.

In the pitcher's circle, assistant coach Megan Rhodes Smith oversaw a staff that ranked among the nation's best. The staff finished the season with a 1.75 ERA - ranking No. 1 in the SEC and 10th-best in the NCAA. The pitchers also recorded 23 shutouts which tied Auburn for the most in the league and ranked tied for third nationally.

The Lady Vols ranked third in the conference and 16th nationally in strikeout-to-walk ratio at 3.51.

Ace Ashley Rogers led the staff with a 20-1 record and was named an NFCA First Team All-American. Senior Payton Gottshall finished the year 16-2, while Karlyn Pickens was named SEC Freshman of the Year.

Volunteer assistant Kate Malveaux oversaw the transition of Giulia Koutsoyanopulos from an outfielder to catcher - a position she had never played prior to joining the Lady Vols. She also played a crucial role in helping Tennessee's offense flourish as well as scouting opposing hitters.

This marks the sixth time Tennessee has been named region coaching staff of the year, previously winning the honor in 2005, 2007, 2010, 2012 and 2013.