This Week in UT Sports History is a weekly column written by RTI contributor Lexie Little
The 2019 baseball and softball teams earned series wins over the Bulldogs of Georgia and Mississippi State this weekend while the White beat the Orange 28-10 in the annual football spring game. But what happened this week in past years clad in orange?
Find out in “This Week in UT Sports History.”
April 19, 1986
When someone says “Lady Vols,” several individuals might come to mind, one of which was born 33 years ago this week: NCAA and WNBA Champion Candace Parker.
Parker, a Lady Vol basketball standout from 2004-2008, grew up learning the game with older brothers Marcus and Anthony, the latter an NBA player and EuroLeague champion. As a high school player in Naperville, Illinois, Parker led her team to consecutive state championships in 2003 and 2004. She gained attention for her powerful dunk, becoming the first woman to dunk in a basketball game in the state of Illinois.
Naturally, Tennessee came calling.
Parker committed to play for Pat Summitt in 2004 and went on to win national titles in 2007 and 2008, also winning the John R. Wooden Award both years. She earned Most Outstanding Player honors in both championship appearances before entering the WNBA Draft in 2008. The Los Angeles Sparks selected Parker as the first overall pick.
“Well, Candace, she’s the best all-around offensive player I’ve coached,” Summitt said at season’s end in 2008. “She makes everyone else on the floor better because of all the double teams that she’s had to play out of. She’s become a better passer. More composure. Worked on her face up game. The versatility, and I’ve said she’s got the best skill set of any 6-foot-4 player out there.”
During her first season with the Sparks, Parker earned the WNBA MVP award for 2008 and Rookie of the Year, becoming the only woman in WNBA history to win the most valuable player title as a rookie. Her success in 2008 extended beyond the national scene, leading Team USA to a gold medal with 14 points against Australia during the Beijing Summer Olympics. She earned gold again at the 2012 Olympics in London, leading the team in rebounds (11) and points (21). Parker is a WNBA Champion, WNBA Finals MVP, two-time league MVP, and four-time All-Star.
In 2018, Turner Sports hired Parker as the only female analyst for the 2018 NCAA March Madness Tournament. She regularly brings her knowledge of the game to other outlets like ESPN, TNT, SEC Network, and Pac-12 Network.
April 18, 2000
Kellie Jolly Harper is not the only University of Tennessee head coach to study and play as a Lady Vol. Women’s Tennis head coach Alison Ojeda earned her degree in Sports Management and a minor in Business Administration in 2002. On April 18, 2000, Ojeda earned Southeastern Conference Player of the Week honors as a sophomore.
Ojeda, who hails from San Antonio, Texas, defeated two ranked opponents from South Carolina and Auburn that week on her road to a successful career as an eventual All-American. Two seasons later as a senior, she earned the Southeast Region Arthur Ashe Jr. Award in recognition of her leadership and sportsmanship.
Ojeda battled against Auburn’s No. 77 Andrea Piski, winning 7-5, 6-3 in singles sets on April 14th before topping No. 20 Katarina Markovski of South Carolina, 6-3, 6-2, two days later in her highest ranked win of the season to that point.
Ojeda was inducted into the National Hispanic Sports Hall of Fame in 2009 while serving as women’s tennis coach at Middle Tennessee State University.
April 14, 2010
Last Tuesday, the 2019 Tennessee Volunteers baseball team earned a commanding victory against Lipscomb on a sunny evening in Knoxville, winning 11-2 before a crowd of 2,581 including Colton Underwood of ABC’s “The Bachelor.”
In 2010, the Vols logged an impressive win against the Bisons, 16-7, at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. Junior Cody Hawn drilled a pitch over the fence for his sixth home run of the season and recorded five hits in the match-up.
“Cody Hawn had his best game of the year, which was great to see as well,” then head coach Todd Raleigh said. “I talked to him before the game and told him just to relax and quit trying to do too much. He did a good job of that, and he had great balance and terrific at-bats all night.”
The Milwaukee Brewers drafted Hawn in the sixth round of the 2010 draft after he became the 10th player to win the team Triple Crown award in 2009 (leading in all three major hitting statistics) with a .364 batting average, 22 home runs, and 81 RBI. The Knoxville native played four seasons in the minors, one year with the Helena Brewers in 2010 before moving to the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers in 2011. He spent the 2012 and 2013 seasons with the Brevard County Manatees. In the minor leagues, Hawn earned a career average of .260, playing in 380 games and recording 40 home runs.
Todd Raleigh served as head coach from 2008 to 2011. He finished his tenure at Tennessee with a losing 108-113 record (.489). His Southeastern Conference record stood at a disappointing 42-78 (.350) giving then athletic director Mike Hamilton reason to relieve Raleigh of his post. Dave Serrano succeeded Raleigh in the position June 15, 2011.
However, that April evening in 2010 belonged to Hawn, who raised his batting average 28 points with his five hits.
The 2019 Vols face Morehead State Tuesday, April 16 at 6 p.m. The match-up will be available for streaming on SEC Network+ and WatchESPN.