Opening statement (Ralph Weekly):

“First of all, we’re excited about the upcoming year. We have thirteen letter winners back, and we have a tough schedule. We purposely made it tough, and in addition to the teams that we’re playing in the SEC, we have a great non-conference schedule.”

On what they learned about the team during fall ball (Karen Weekly):

“I think the biggest thing we learned is that we have a lot of depth, and there’s a lot of competition, and we lost a fall game, and we never like to do that and that’s kind of unusual for us, and looking back, I think some of that is due to us not really having a solid lineup yet, and usually by the end of fall, we have a solid lineup. But, it’s probably a good problem to have, because there’s so much competition at some spots, and a lot of our newcomers are really pushing the veteran players, a lot of the veterans who didn’t start all the time are really pushing kids that are returning starters. So, we’re a pretty deep team, and we have some really great scrimmages because of it, so I think that bodes well for us.”

On how Ashley Rogers is looking this fall and how the pitching lineup is looking (Karen Weekly):

“She’s looked really good at times, and she’s struggled a little bit at times. But, that’s to be expected in the fall. In the fall, you’re trying to work on things, you’re not necessarily going out there and looking for somebody to be in midseason form. So, you’re wanting to expand your repertoire of pitches and really develop your game. But she has looked better this fall than we’ve ever seen her. So, we’re really excited about where she is. Behind her, we have a lot of inexperience. We’ve got two freshmen, and a redshirt sophomore transfer. All of those kids have shown moments of brilliance, and then moments of inexperience. So, it’s just a matter of continuing to work with them, and I think that all of them are very eager and have pretty good composure out there and really want to learn and really want to improve and understand what it means to pitch at Tennessee and they have a great role model in Ashley.”

On who some of the newcomers are who could have a big impact (Ralph Weekly):

“For the first time, and we really feel good about this, all eight of the newcomers are competitive. And you know, sometimes you have freshmen get in and they’re just not ready to go yet, but these kids are ready to go, and one of the freshmen is Callie Turner. She’s a pitcher, she was picked up by the USA Junior National Team this summer and played with them. Another is a centerfielder out of Washington, Kiki Milloy, who is a very good player, as are all of them, but one of the things we’re really excited about is that we have ten girls on our team from the state of Tennessee, and they’re all really good players, and the softball in Tennessee has improved so much that it’s allowed us to do that.”

On where the power hitting will come from this year (Karen Weekly):

“I think (Kaili) Phillips is a key to replacing some of that, for sure. Amanda Ayala, we expect more out of her, and she definitely has that potential. Kiki Milloy, who Ralph just mentioned, she is fast, she can track down balls in the outfield, and she has a ton of power. We have not had an athlete like her in the program in quite a while, but she can do a lot of things, so we expect to get some of that power from her as well. Ashley Morgan at first base, I think we can get more power out of her than we’ve seen in the past. So, we’re going to need some of it to come from within, but we’ve got some new kids. Maddie Webber is another freshman that has shown power in practices as well. So, it may not come from one person, and we’re going to need three or four kids to step up.”

On how Ally Shipman has looked this fall (Ralph Weekly):

“Well, she just got cleared to start hitting last week, and she didn’t get cleared for our games yesterday, but she was cleared for our intrasquad games, and she looked really well. You know, we came up one game short to Florida, one inning short, actually, of going to the World Series, and I think Shipman would have made a big difference last year. She’s a quality player, and talk about power, she’s definitely a power hitter.”

On being able to play to games against outside competition in fall (Ralph Weekly):

“Again we decided this year we weren’t going to play community colleges and nothing against community colleges, we just wanted to play division one schools this fall, and it helped us a lot and our loss helped us – we lost a 4-3 game to UAB, who had a bunch of experienced players. Actually we made a baseline error in the last inning or we would’ve beat them because there were two doubles right after that, but I think it’s good to play as strong as competition as you can in the fall. And, as you look at our spring schedule and in addition to the conference we’re playing, we open at Arizona State, which is my alma mater, and we open the season with Arizona, which has eight or ten national championships, but our first five games are Arizona, Arizona State, Utah, Texas, and Colorado State, which was also a regional qualifier so then its gets tougher from there, but we’re excited though.”

On Chelsea Seggern being a leader this year, and if the freshman will come in and compete right away for time (Karen Weekly):

“(Chelsea) Seggern is a definitely a leader, a phenomenal leader, one of the best that I’ve coached in 25 years of this business. The neat thing about our team is they never shy away from the freshmen coming in and competing and Ralph and I believe that it doesn’t matter if you are a senior or a freshman, if you are talented enough and win the job you are going to be on the field. And, if you are a leader you’re a leader and we tell our kids that it doesn’t matter if you’re a freshman, if you’re a leader step up and lead and we encourage all of them to be leaders. Ally shipman is a sophomore, but Ally Shipman was leading our team last year before she went down with an injury, but even after the injury she showed a lot of great leadership characteristics so I think we have a lot of good leadership from a lot of different classes on our team. We do have a very strong set of seniors, five seniors on our team, and they all provide leadership in their own ways as well.”

On if any of the newcomers have surprised him so far (Ralph Weekly):

“I think there always is with freshmen, but one of the things that interests me is in a game we played yesterday against a good opponent, our whole starting infield were newcomers from Tennessee, and our starting catcher who is a sophomore is a Tennessee girl. There’re a couple kids challenging for middle infield and their going against some pretty good players and the upper classman are feeling that challenge but they are embracing it, so we feel if we can stay relatively injury free, which is a problem in every sport, we can get a lot of good things done this year.”

On what the mix has been like between the new players and returning players and their personalities (Karen Weekly):

“What I see happening a lot is the older players are encouraging and helping the younger players. You’ll see two kids that are competing neck and neck at a position and veteran is giving the freshman assistance and teaching points and helping her to be better at her position and I think they recognize that competition is going to make us great not just competing against outside opponents but competing within. And, as iron sharpens iron so we sharpen one another, and being a competitor is one of our core values and I see that happening every day and the more we compete the better we get.”

Source- University of Tennessee Athletics

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