CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga softball team was honored on Monday night as the Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger recognized the Lady Mocs with a Certificate of Recognition during the team's annual banquet at Russell Events Hall. It was a night to reflect and celebrate with friends, family and the community before traveling to Statesboro, Ga., for the Southern Conference Tournament. A photo gallery from the dinner can be viewed through the link above.
"Every year, this banquet is like a big family reunion," said senior right fielder Della Harrison (Nashville, Tenn.). "It is fun to see each other cleaned up, instead of being dirty or on the road. This is a chance for us to be loose and have some fun with the supporters of the program."
Senior Tiffany Baker (East Ridge, Tenn.) was voted by her teammates for the Mayfield Award given to the student-athlete that best represents the university and city as a student, athlete and citizen. The East Ridge, Tenn., native was selected for the second-straight year to the award.
"It makes me feel so good that the girls look up to me," said Baker. "They voted for me and it is always an honor to be recognized by your peers. I love each and every one of these girls and know that they feel the same way towards me."
The Mayfield Award is in recognition of a long-time supporter of Chattanooga Athletics, who enjoyed watching the Lady Mocs programs. Back in 2002, the award was created to remember the dedication that he had for the program and city of Chattanooga.
Tonight's dinner begin as the president of the Lady Mocs RBI Club, Mike Burke, gave a speech reviewing the season and talked about the goals that the team still had its sights set on.
The event continued as Head Coach Frank Reed introduced Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger, who presented the entire team and coaching staff with a Certificate of Recognition.
The plaque, which can be view in the gallery above, stated:
"This Certificate of Recognition is presented to the UTC Lady Mocs Softball Team. The Lady Mocs clinched their fifth straight and 13th overall Southern Conference Regular Season Championship on May 1 at Jim Frost Stadium with a series sweep over Georgia Southern. The Lady Mocs have put up the best offensive numbers in the 17 year history of the program with a team batting average of .336 and an average of 6.5 runs per game."
The Lady Mocs were impressed by the mayor showing his
support of the program and recognizing the accomplishments of the team. The plaque included the statement above and the names of the 18 players along with the coaching staff.
"This award goes a long way in telling people that we are not only a softball team, but we are out there in the community trying to give back," said Coach Reed. "The community has embraced us not only as a winning team, but as a team that wants to give back, whether it is organizing a clothing drive for disaster relief or touching a family by having an honorary team member."
As the banquet continued, Coach Reed had each class of student-athletes come up and introduce themselves including what has made this year special starting with the freshman and working up to the seniors. Each player was given their poster that hung in the hallway leading to the team's indoor hitting facility at Warner Park.
The final part of the banquet included a video detailing the road that the Lady Mocs have traveled in clinching the No. 1 seed in the Southern Conference Tournament. This provided a chance for the supporters of the team to get an inside look at some of fun the Lady Mocs have had on road trips.
"All of those behind the scene activities encourages us to do more," said Harrison. "I think the movie Coach Amy [Herrington-Woodard] does for us is something that the team looks forward to every week. We always want to be in it and this was a great opportunity to show our supporters some of the things we have done this season."
Chattanooga begins the SoCon Tournament on Wednesday at 2 p.m., against the winner of the play-in game between No. 8 Furman and No. 9 Western Carolina. The double-elimination tournament runs through Saturday in Statesboro, Ga. Links to live stats, audio and video for all the Lady Mocs games will be available through the softball schedule page of GoMocs.com, the official website of Chattanooga Athletics.