A dream come true: Irwin commits to Lady Vols
The Tennessee Lady Vols softball team may not have won the 2013 College World Series, but the national championship runners-up did win on the recruiting trail this week.
Seymour rising senior Lauren Irwin, who’d silently committed to the Lady Vols last fall, affirmed her commitment to the Orange and White publicly.
Irwin, who’s been a force at the plate for the Seymour Lady Eagles the past two years, said she’s always wanted to be a Lady Vol.
The offer last fall from coaches Ralph and Karen Weekly just cemented her love for the team.
“That was a dream come true,” she said Tuesday. “I’ve always wanted to go to UT.”
In fact, she’s been attending the team’s camps since she was a youngster. That’s where she was first noticed by the team’s coaches when she was in about the 8th grade.
“(Then) this junior year, they could really start talking to me, and they did,” Irwin said.
Last fall, she went for an unofficial visit.
“They had asked me to come to one of their practices. And so I went, and after the practice was over I did my unofficial visit of the facilities,” Irwin said.
After the tour, things got interesting as she visited with the Weeklys.
“We went back into a conference room and we sat down, and we talked about all of the opportunities that I would be presented and the decisions that I would have to make.”
Upon entering the room, Irwin had noticed a whiteboard with lists of committed players.
“(There were) commits from the year before me and the year after me,” she said. “And (the coaches) were like, ‘We’d like you to be on that board.’”
Irwin had to double-take.
“My heart just stopped. I was like, ‘Of course!’”
The Weeklys had undoubtedly been impressed with Irwin’s play since she joined the high school ranks.
The upcoming senior has been a critical cog in for the Seymour Lady Eagles in their three-straight state tournament appearances.
She burst onto the scene as a freshman, tossing a perfect game and clubbing a pair of home runs.
Her performance has only elevated from there.
As a sophomore she hit nine home runs, tied for second-best on the team, and as a junior last season she led the team with 11 homers. She’s averaged a home run every 14 at-bats during the past two years.
All the while she’s also been consistent at the plate, carrying a .385 career average (.422 over the past two seasons).
She’s been a two-time IMAC Offensive Player of the Year.
And, in the meantime, she’s been a great example for her teammates.
“Lauren is the kid that you can count on to get it done,” Seymour coach Dayna Carter said. “She’s going to put the team on her back and say, ‘Jump on. Let’s go.’
“(She) keeps them in line, keeps them motivated and keeps them hungry. In all the years I’ve worked there, she’s probably the hardest working kid I’ve had,” Carter continued.
“That’s why I’m confident that going to the next level, Tennessee, she’s going to do what it takes to be on the field.”
Carter raved about Irwin’s abilities, both as a hitter and as a fielder.
“Lauren has so much speed and range. She’s got so much speed an range that she could she could play middle infield or outfield (at UT).
“She’s got a lot of upside, and her biggest upside is her work ethic.”