CLEARWATER, Fla. – Tennessee was crowned the champion of the 2023 NFCA Division I Leadoff Classic. The 13th-ranked Lady Vols posted a 3-0 mark, picking up wins over Howard, Illinois and No. 8 Northwestern.
On the final day, UT blanked Northwestern, 6-0, behind Ashley Rogers’ shutout. Rogers struck out 13, walked one and scattered seven hits. Kiki Milloy and Taylor Pannell homered, while Mackenzie Donihoo was 3-for-4 with two RBI. Over the three games, the Lady Vols outscored their opposition 36-3.
Kentucky finished as the tournament runner-up, posting a 2-0-1 mark and was just one of two undefeated teams. On Sunday, the Wildcats finished in a 4-4 deadlock with Texas. UK rallied all the way back from a 4-0 deficit and forced extra innings. They would go on to score three runs in the top of the seventh, but the 3:30 drop dead time came before the third out was recorded and the score reverted to the 4-4 final.
Auburn and Louisville finished 4-1, while Pittsburgh and Indiana posted 3-1 marks.
Tournament Central | Photo Gallery
NFCA Official Sponsor, GameChanger provided a livestream for every game of the 2023 tournament, which included a dedicated broadcast team on Fields 1 & 3. With the tournament concluded, fans can watch game replays and check out boxscores and statistics of their favorite teams via phone, tablet or web browser for free on the GameChanger app.
On the final day, St. John’s, Auburn, Louisville, Missouri and Texas, along with Tennessee recorded big shutout wins. Pitt and Indiana also ended on a high note with Sunday triumphs.
The Tigers blanked Illinois 10-0 in five innings, recording their fourth shutout of the weekend. Maddie Penta (4 IP, 2 H, 9 K, 1 BB) and Shelby Lowe (1 IP, 0 H) combined on the shutout. Aspyn Godwin, Annabelle Widra and Icess Tresvik homered for Auburn.
The Cardinals posted a pair of shutouts on Sunday with 8-0 and 4-0 victories over Howard and Missouri, respectively. Against the Bison, Taylor Roby and Gabby Holloway combined on a one-hit shutout (five innings). Elana Ornelas was 3-for-3 with a homer, two RBI and two runs scored. Louisville finished out a halted game from Saturday against the Tigers. Alyssa Zabala held the Tigers to three hits, struck out six and did not issue a free pass to earn the complete-game shutout.
The Red Storm picked up their first win of the weekend with an 8-0 victory over Southern. The Red Storm registered 11 hits, led by Katie Whittaker’s two-homer, five-RBI showing and Carolina Zamudio’s four-hit shutout with eight punchouts.
The Panthers capped off the weekend with their third straight victory, 7-3 over Fordham. They broke a 3-3 tie with a run in the bottom of the fifth and extended the lead to four runs, plating three more in the sixth. Dani Drogemuller fanned 10 in a complete-game victory. Kat Rodriguez drove in two runs for Pitt.
Powered by a four-run sixth, the Hoosiers ended their tournament with 5-1 triumph over South Alabama. Brooke Benson’s two-run homer erased a 1-0 deficit and kick-started the four-run outburst.
Prior to the 4-4 deadlock, the Longhorns blanked Illinois 7-0 behind a four-hit shutout by Estelle Czech. Czech struck out four and did not walk a batter. Reese Atwood led the offensive charge with a home run and five RBI.
Mizzou picked up an 11-0 five-inning win over Prairie View A&M prior to their contest against Louisville. Cierra Harrison (4 IP, 1 H, 7 K) and Tylor Pannell (1 IP, 2 K) combined on the one-hit shutout. Seven different Tigers recorded an RBI and 10 scored at least one run.
Maddie Penta, Auburn
Juli Martine, Fordham
Lealani Ricks, Howard
Sydney Sickles, Illinois
Brianna Copeland, Indiana
Karissa Hamilton, Kentucky
Alyssa Zabala, Louisville
Jenna Laird, Missouri
Kelsey Nader, Northwestern
Sarah Seamans, Pittsburgh
Hailey Elizarraras, Prairie View A&M
Jenna Hardy, South Alabama
Alissa Castaneda, Southern
Hannah Mearns, St. John's
McKenna Gibson, Tennessee
Mia Scott, Texas
Celebrating 40 years in 2023, the NFCA is the professional organization for fastpitch softball coaches. Known for its highly-regarded coaches polls and All-America awards, the NFCA also educates and supports softball coaches on a variety of different levels: from podcasts to awards, to in-person events and National Convention.
Learn more about the NFCA and consider joining our lineup of over 6,700 coaches today!