MARTIN, Tenn. – Seniors Carly Gonzales and Renate Meckl along with junior Aeron Smith have been announced as 2017 captains for the University of Tennessee at Martin softball team, as announced by head coach Donley Canary.
“When I first started coaching, I thought it was all about talent because it wins out, but it is really about leadership,” said Canary. “After 25 years of coaching, I know that player leadership is so important in having a strong program. In the past I haven’t elected captains, but with such a young team I thought it would be important and these three were nearly unanimous.”
Hailing from Anaheim, Calif., Gonzales enters her senior campaign as a four-year starter in the outfield for the Skyhawks which has garnered numerous postseason accomplishments ranging from OVC Freshman of the Year to a pair of All-OVC honors. Gonzales is coming off a season where she posted a .372 batting average, 35 runs scored, 61 base hits, 10 doubles, two home runs and 22 RBIs along with 22 stolen bases. Additionally, Gonzales tallied 17 multiple hit contests, including three games with three hits or more to lead the team.
A native of Oconomowoc, Wisc., Meckl enters her senior year having served as the team’s primary starter at catcher. Meckl has started in 118 games throughout her career while posting her best offensive season in 2016. She notched a .298 batting average while tallying six home runs and 23 RBIs along with swiping 10 bases. She tallied 39 base hits – including 14 for extra bases – while posting a .984 career fielding percentage behind the plate.
Serving as the team’s lone junior captain, Smith enters her third year in a Skyhawk uniform as the team’s alternate catching option – garnering 44 starts in 2016. The Bowling Green, Ky. Native posted a strong freshman campaign where she notched a .314 batting average before expanding her offensive damage as a sophomore by notching three home runs and 19 RBIs. Behind the plate, Smith caught 15 potential base stealers while posting a .988 career fielding percentage.
“Carly leads by example because she plays hard on the field while also providing a vocal leader,” continued Canary. “Renate is a silent leader but leads by her play on the field and the way she hustles in everything she does. Aeron understands the game so well and can direct the players like a general to where they need to be. I feel like these three will be great leaders for our program this season.”
The Skyhawks open the 2017 campaign at the Southeastern Louisiana Lion Classic with a four-game tournament schedule beginning on Friday, Feb. 10.