UT softball pitcher Ellen Renfroe developed a love for softball at an early age, playing for the West Tennessee Diamond in McKenzie, Tenn. She chose UT to continue both her education and her softball career because of many factors, including the coaching staff and her family's unwavering loyalty to Tennessee sports.
Her faith, however, was the most influential factor in her decision.
"It was a decision I prayed about," Renfroe said. "I felt that it (Tennessee) was where God was leading me to go."
Of course, the junior had an opportunity at Tennessee this season that very few people get to experience: she played on a team with her sisters.
Her older sister, Ivy , is also a pitcher and the two have formed a dynamic duo on the mound. Their younger sister, Anna, is an infielder.
"It's been a blessing," Ellen Renfroe said of competing alongside her two sisters. "This was the last season we will all be together. It was great watching my sister (Anna) get better, and to watch Ivy have such a great season."
After posting a stellar season personally and as a team in 2011 to 2012, Renfroe said she had high expectations for herself and her softball team this season.
The Tennessee softball team did not disappoint, achieving a record of 52-12 and advancing to the Women's College World Series championship, where they finished second to Oklahoma. The Lady Vols nearly took Game 1 in a thrilling affair that ended in a comeback Sooners victory, and they were swept in the final Game 2.
Overall, Renfroe said that the team's recipe for success was the ability to have fun and enjoy the moment.
"I think down the stretch we all just really tied to embrace the need to have fun," Renfroe said. "We play the best when we are relaxed and focused on our specific roles."
Despite finishing second after losing the championship series to Oklahoma, Renfroe said that her experience at the College World Series was still an excellent one.
"It's awesome," Renfroe added. "We can't be down on ourselves because we were No. 2 and that's an incredible honor.
"Not all teams get there. It was great to be playing for a championship."
After an impressive regular season and postseason, Renfroe said she is excited about how the Lady Vols' young players stepped up. She said she and her teammates are hopeful about the future of Tennessee softball and their chances of competing for a national championship on a year-by-year basis.
"I definitely think we have potential (to win a national championship), it's just going to take a lot of hard work."