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College softball: Jessica Spigner skips to Arizona

Valencia grad transfers from Tennessee

Posted: July 25, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: July 25, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Valencia graduate and three-year University of Tennessee softball player Jessica Spigner said she was having philosophical disagreements with coaches before transferring.

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Valencia graduate Jessica Spigner led the University of Tennessee softball team in home runs two out of the last three years.

Spigner consistently hit over .300 and drove in more than her share of Volunteers.

This season, she taking that production elsewhere.

The two-time CIF-Southern Section Division I champion and Vikings star has transferred to the University of Arizona for her senior season, citing philosophical differences and a lack of communication after a sudden position change.

“We just had different views and our views clashed with each other,” Spigner said. “It’s not that I was aggressive or anything. I wanted to compete for something that I love, and I wasn’t necessarily given that opportunity at Tennessee. I just wanted to open up and really express the player that I am.”

The 20-year-old, whose primary position has been third base since she was 10, said the issue began when she was replaced in the field and shifted to first base/designated player without warning or say in the matter in March.

Quick to say how thankful she was for her three years with the Volunteers, Spigner is now looking forward to joining softball coaching legend Mike Candrea’s Wildcats.

Spigner was granted a one-time released from her scholarship at Tennessee that will make her eligible to play for Arizona in 2012.

She committed to the school on June 11.

“I had just gotten word that she was getting released and was looking to transfer,” Candrea said. “I had her in camp many years ago before she went to Tennessee. We had a mutual interest in one another. It was fortunate (this time around) that I had some scholarship money available to her and was able to convince her that Arizona would be a good place to finish her career up.”

Spigner batted .332 with 159 RBIs and 38 home runs during her Volunteer career.

She is coming off a third consecutive strong season in which she hit .326 with 16 homers and 53 RBIs, and only committed four errors.

Spigner said that the emotional roller coaster of the 2011 season has helped refine her attitude and draw her closer to her family and her faith.

“It’s such a hard situation because so there were so many different aspects that played a part in it,” she said. “I had a great experience at Tennessee. I totally love all my teammates. I’m going to miss them terribly, and I wish the best for the program.”

The program she is joining also happens to be one of the most storied in NCAA softball history.

The eight-time national champions finished tied for third in the Pac-10 last season and were 43-18 overall.

The conference (now the Pac-12) is widely considered to be the premier softball conference, followed by the Southeastern Conference, in which Tennessee competes.

“That’s the intriguing thing,” Candrea said. “She is a young lady that is not going to be tentative playing in the (Pac-12). She’s played a very good schedule and done quite well there. We are getting a seasoned veteran who can come in and give us some immediate help.

“I hope we can give her a great experience her last year of college and take care of her until she finds something she loves to do,” he added. “It’s a win-win for both parties. We are really excited to have her.”

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