Tennessee Vols morning report: SEC Media Days schedule, baseball opener

KNOXVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 09: Tennessee Volunteers fans cheer during the first half of the game against the Indiana State Sycamores at Neyland Stadium on September 9, 2017 in Knoxville, Tennessee. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
KNOXVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 09: Tennessee Volunteers fans cheer during the first half of the game against the Indiana State Sycamores at Neyland Stadium on September 9, 2017 in Knoxville, Tennessee. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

The Tennessee Vols’ schedule at 2019 SEC Media Days and baseball season opening lead our Volunteers news for Friday, Feb. 15, 2019.

Happy Friday! We’re more than halfway through February, and another spring sport is set to begin. It’s the spring sport of all spring sports, and despite the Tennessee Vols men’s basketball program being the talk of the town, this spring sport gets a headline for us today.

Our morning update on Rocky Top focuses on the start of baseball season, in case you didn’t pick up what we were talking about. It also involves news surrounding Tennessee football, as a few key summer dates have been set.

But there is a ton of other news as well. We’re talking about more football coverage, a recap of a Thursday game and other sports that have weekend match-ups scheduled. We’ll get to all of that after the main stories we just discussed.

SEC Media Days schedule set – SECSports

SEC Media Days for the 2019 football season is set. The dates are Monday, July 15 through Thursday, July 18, and The Tennessee Vols are scheduled to take the stage Tuesday. Jeremy Pruitt will be the third to go on that day after Kirby Smart and the Georgia Bulldogs and then Matt Luke and the Ole Miss Rebels. Jimbo Fisher and the Texas A&M Aggies will round out the day, going on immediately after Pruitt.

"The SEC Network and ESPN will once again be on site to bring the four-day event to a national audience. Only seven times since 1992 has the SEC Media Days predicted champion proceeded to win the SEC Championship, including three of the last five seasons. Last season was the first since 2009 where both SEC Championship Game participants were accurately predicted at the event."

Tennessee baseball opens season vs. Appalachian State – Wes Rucker, GoVols247

The Tennessee Vols baseball team begins its second year under new head coach Tony Vitello. They will face the Appalachian State Mountaineers in a three-game series beginning Friday at 4:30 p.m. After dramatic improvement in Vitello’s first year, expectations this year are cautiously optimistic.

"The Vols won five more SEC games than they won in 2017 despite having more underclassman starters than any other Power 5 conference program. Their nine SEC home wins were the program’s best since the 2005 College World Series season. Their 29 wins tied a program record for the most from any first-year head coach. But they again fell short of the postseason."

Tennessee football ranked No. 15 in the ESPN FPI – Seth Walder, ESPN.com

More analytical love comes for Tennessee football. The Vols came in ranked No. 15 in the ESPN Football Power Index for 2019 on Thursday, good for No. 7 in the SEC behind the Alabama Crimson Tide, the Georgia Bulldogs, the LSU Tigers, the Florida Gators, the Auburn Tigers and the Texas A&M Aggies. In fact, after the Clemson Tigers coming in at No. 1, Alabama, Georgia and LSU were Nos. 2-4.

"The SEC has three of the top five teams in the country, five of the top 10 and half of the top 20!The 10th-best SEC team (Missouri) is better than the second-best ACC team (Florida State) and the second-best Big 12 team (Texas)."

Softball set for St. Pete/Clearwater Invitational – stpeteclearwatereliteinvite.com

The No. 6 ranked Tennessee Lady Vols softball team started the season 5-0 in the Kickin’ Chicken Classic Last weekend. This weekend, they will take part in five games in the St. Pete/Clearwater Invitational, which has 16 teams, at the Eddie C. Moore Softball Complex in Clearwater, Fla. Their slate begins Friday against the No. 24 ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish at 10 a.m.  and then against the Minnesota Golden Gophers at 3 p.m. On Saturday, they’ll face the No. 23/25 ranked James Madison Dukes at 4 p.m. and the Utah Utes  at 7 p.m. Finally, Sunday night at 7 p.m., they’ll face the defending national champion and No. 1/2 ranked Florida State Seminoles on ESPN2. The slate of games are set to be televised across the ESPN network.

"“We are excited to expand ESPN’s commitment to NCAA Division I Softball with the launch of this elite event,” said Pete Derzis, ESPN senior vice president of college sports programming and ESPN Events. “The St. Pete/Clearwater Elite Invitational brings together some of the nation’s top talent in a highly desirable destination for teams and fans.”"

Lady Vols defeat Auburn – Associated Press

The Tennessee women’s basketball team used a strong third quarter to beat the Auburn Tigers 73-62 at Thompson-Boling Arena. With the win, the Lady Vols completed a regular season sweep of Auburn, who fell to 18-7 and 6-6 in the SEC.

"Tennessee (16-8, 5-6 SEC) won for the fourth time in five games and bounced back from a 91-63 loss at No. 5 Mississippi State on Sunday.After trailing 32-27 at halftime, Tennessee went on a 14-3 run in the first 6½ minutes of the third quarter to take the lead for good."

Women’s tennis to face Indiana and South Florida – UTSports

The 4-2 Tennessee women’s tennis team will play two matches at home over the weekend. Their first one is set for Friday at 11:30 a.m. against the Indiana Hoosiers, and then they’ll face the South Florida Bulls on Sunday at noon.

"The two matches are part of an 11-match homestand for the Lady Vols. Indiana (6-2) has registered wins over Cincinnati, Butler, James Madison and Saint Louis this season. The trip to Knoxville will be Indiana’s first road match this season. The match between Tennessee and the Hoosiers also marks the 34th straight season that the two schools have met (every season since 1986). South Florida (4-3) has lost three matches this season, but two of those came to opponents currently ranked in the top 25 (LSU and Georgia)."

Cross country earns academic awards – Ustfccca.org

The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association recognized the Tennessee men’s and women’s cross country teams for academic achievement along with an individual. Both of Beth Alford-Sullivan’s teams received All-Academic Team awards for their accomplishments, and junior Megan Murray was named an All-Academic Individual.

"Overall, there were 427 teams that earned All-Academic distinction. Radford University’s women had the best GPA of the bunch at 3.87, while Southern Illinois University had the best GPA out of any men’s team at 3.67."