The four conferences that will participate at this year's Women's College World Series were well represented as an impressive 38 of the 54 total nods, including all 18 student-athletes on the first team, were garnered from either the Southeastern Conference (15), the Pacific-12 Conference (10), the Big 12 Conference (eight) or the Big Ten Conference (five).
In addition, all eight programs that will be competing from May 30 to June 5 for the 2013 NCAA Division I National Championship — Tennessee, Florida, Nebraska, Michigan, Washington, Arizona State, Oklahoma and Texas — each received at least one inclusion on the prestigious squads. Oklahoma, Oregon and Alabama led the country with four total selections each, while Tennessee joined the Ducks in leading the nation with three student-athletes tabbed to the NFCA All-American First Team.
One year after squandering a lead with the national championship on the line, Oklahoma comes rolling into the Women's College World Series as the favorite to win this year's NCAA softball title and the toast of the sport.
The Sooners (52-4) lead the nation in scoring, they have the best earned-run average and they arrive at college softball's premiere event after clobbering their way through the opening rounds of the NCAA tournament. Both of their super regional victories came via the run rule, as did two of their three wins in regional play.
Oklahoma even had two of the three national player of the year finalists with Keilani Ricketts repeating in front of slugging teammate Lauren Chamberlain.
The rest of the teams in the field all have their strengths, too. Arizona State has won two championships since 2008, with current ace Dallas Escobedo in the circle two years ago to win it all, and Washington was the 2009 champ. Defending champion Alabama was knocked off by SEC rival Tennessee in the super regionals.
The country's top four scoring teams — Oklahoma, Tennessee, Michigan and Arizona State — are all present. Not far behind is second-seeded Florida, which has taken a step away from heavily relying on the long ball and also ranks in the top 25 in stolen bases.
The Lady Vols (49-10) begin their quest for the national title against SEC rival Florida (57-7) at 2:30 this afternoon.
Chavanne is a four-time NFCA All-American and a first-team pick for the third consecutive year (2011-13). Chavanne and Monica Abbott (2004-07) are the only four-time All-Americans in UT softball history. She was a Top 3 Finalist for the USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year and a finalist for the Senior CLASS Award. Chavanne was also named the Capital One Academic All-American of the Year. She was also a First Team All-SEC, an SEC All-Defensive Team and an SEC All-Tournament selection. Chavanne ranks fourth in the nation with a .468 batting average and a 1.17 runs scored per game average. She also is 16th in the country in stolen bases per game with a 0.66 average (39-for-40). She broke UT's career stolen base record earlier this season and currently has 141 swipes. She has 239 career runs, just two shy of tying UT's all-time mark of 243 held by Lindsay Schutzler. Chavanne also has 352 hits, just 10 away from another Schutzler school record. She is also the Lady Vols' leader in career on-base percentage at .516.
Gibson is a first-team All-American for the third consecutive year (2011-13). She is just the fifth Lady Vol to become a three-time All-American, joining Abbott (2004-07), Chavanne (2010-13), Tonya Callahan (2006-08) and Lindsay Schutzler (2005-07). The Pasadena, Md., native was named the SEC Player of the Year and was a Top 10 Finalist for USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year. She was also a First Team All-SEC, an SEC All-Defensive Team and an SEC All-Tournament selection. Gibson is batting .407 (53rd in the nation) with 18 home runs (tie-16th) and 66 RBIs (1.12 average is 16th in nation). Her .820 slugging percentage ranks 16th in the nation. Gibson's 18 home runs are a new Tennessee single-season record and at 45 career blasts, she sits just six shy of tying Tonya Callahan's UT record of 51. Gibson also ranks second in UT career slugging percentage at .645.
Shipman is a two-time All-American (second team in 2012) and is a first-team pick for the first team this year. She becomes the ninth Lady Vol to earn multiple All-America honors in a career, joining Abbott, Callahan, Chavanne, Kristi Durant (2005-06), Sarah Fekete (2005-06), Gibson, Ellen Renfroe (2011-12) and Schutzler. The Valencia, Calif., native is was also a First Team All-SEC and an SEC All-Defensive Team selection. On the season, Shipman is batting a career-high .380 with 10 homers, 60 RBIs, 20 doubles, 50 runs and 16 stolen bases. Her defense at shortstop has been stellar as she has a .969 fielding percentage with just five errors committed all year. She has also shined in the classroom, earning Capital One Academic All-America second team honors.