AP Sports Writer
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee remains confident that it's only a matter of time before the Lady Vols win the softball national title that continues to elude them.
"I have absolute faith that Tennessee will get a national championship in softball," third baseman Raven Chavanne said Wednesday as the Lady Vols returned to campus after finishing second in the Women's College World Series. "Whether it's next year or in five years, I know it's going to happen."
Tennessee's latest title bid ended Tuesday when it got swept by Oklahoma in the best-of-3 championship round of the Lady Vols' third World Series appearance in the last four years. Tennessee also reached the championship round in 2007 before losing to Arizona in three games.
The Lady Vols (52-12) came home to a festive greeting that featured over 100 supporters, including Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart, football coach Butch Jones, men's basketball coach Cuonzo Martin and dozens of student-athletes in other sports. Marlon Walls, a defensive lineman on the football team, set off an air horn as the Lady Vols exited the team bus.
"Butch would text us every night," Tennessee co-coach Ralph Weekly said. "Cuonzo texted us every night. Everyone in the department texted us. I'm just proud to be a Vol. I wanted this for the university. I really wanted it. You leave it on the field and it just didn't happen. That's all there is to it."
The turnout Wednesday indicated how the Lady Vols' run to the championship round had inspired a fan base that hasn't had too many reasons to cheer lately. Tennessee hasn't reached a bowl game or advanced to the NCAA men's basketball tournament the last two years, but the softball program nearly brought a title back to Knoxville.
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