Multiple splashes were made by the Tennessee Vols athletics program Thursday. One program made history with an incredible blowout win, and another scored a huge victory to advance in postseason play, making for an exciting beginning to the weekend.
Our morning report on Rocky Top begins on the diamond. Baseball had the historic win that just can’t be ignored. However, softball also makes news with the start of NCAA Regionals today. We have awards and finalists for awards in those sports to cover as well.
Beyond the diamond, men’s tennis had a huge postseason win in the NCAA Championships to set the stage for a thrilling weekend. As if that news wasn’t enough, a leadership change in a sport was announced as well. Simply put, there’s plenty to cover, starting on the diamond.
Tony Vitello, players talk 27-2 win vs. Mississippi State – Ben McKee, VolQuest
With a program game record-tying seven home runs Thursday, the Tennessee Vols baseball team scored its largest margin of victory in SEC history, beating the Mississippi State Bulldogs 27-2 in the first game of their three-game regular season series finale. The next game is set for 7 p.m. ET Friday. Here’s what Tony Vitello said about Thursday’s success.
"“I think our guys just picked up where they left off on Tuesday as far as pregame attitude, crispness of some things. You’re not always going to get the scoreboard to tally up the way that it did tonight, but I think the approach is what it needs to be, and it’s what it’s been for the last few weeks.”"
Jorel Ortega was the star, going 5-of-7 with two homeruns, two doubles, eight RBIs and four runs. Trey Lipsomb was 4-of-4 with four runs. Evan Russell was 4-of-5 with three doubles, three RBIs and two runs. Luc Lipcius was 3-of-5 with two homers, three RBIs and three runs. He, Jordan Beck and Drew Gilbert hit three straight homers in the first. Here’s how Ortega described the night.
"“We were hammering the ball out of the gate, so I’m like, ‘Well, I guess everybody’s hitting the ball well tonight.’ Drew (Beam) was due for one of them, Luc (Lipcius) has been working all day long, and (Jordan) Beck, I mean, Beck was due.”"
Chase Dollander got the start on the mound and allowed no runs, no hits and just one walk through six innings with six strikeouts. Here’s what he said about his night.
"“I finally got my slider back to where it needed to be, so I was able to play everything off of that. I threw a couple changeups. The one changeup to a righty I was pretty proud of. My curveball was working pretty well, and I’d just have to say everything was working pretty well.”"
Softball to begin NCAA Regionals – Dan Harralson, VolsWire.com
Friday marks the start of NCAA Regionals for the Tennessee Lady Vols softball program. This is a double-elimination that involves four teams and will last through the weekend.
"No. 10 Tennessee (39-16, 15-8 SEC) will host the Knoxville Regional of the NCAA Tournament at Sherri Parker Lee Stadium as the national No. 11 seed.The Lady Vols will play Campbell, while Oregon State and Ohio State are also in the Knoxville Regional."
Dick Howser semifinalists include four Vols – SportsWriters.net
Drew Beam, Chase Burns, Chase Dollander and Trey Lipscomb are all among the 40 semifinalist candidates for the 2022 Dick Howser Trophy. The National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) and the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce announced the list along with the Dick Howser Trophy Committee Thursday.
"The Dick Howser Trophy, presented by The Game Headwear, given in memory of the former Florida State University All-America shortstop and major league player and manager, who died of brain cancer in 1987, is regarded by many as college baseball’s most prestigious award. Criteria for consideration of the trophy include performance on the field, leadership, moral character and courage, qualities that were exemplified by Dick Howser’s life."
Erin Edmoundson and Kiki Milloy both made the National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-Southeast Region Second Team, and Zaida Puni made Third Team. The Tennessee Lady Vols softball program has had 43 players making up 81 All-Region selections since 1997.
"The awards honor softball student-athletes from the Association’s 10 regions with first, second and third-team selections. NFCA member head coaches from each respective region nominated student-athletes and voted for the teams. All awarded student-athletes now become eligible for the 2022 NFCA Division I All-America squads."
Men’s tennis advances to NCAA Semifinals – NCAA.com
For the second straight year, the Tennessee Vols men’s tennis team has reached the Final Four of the NCAA Championships. They will face the Virginia Cavaliers Saturday, and the winner of that matchup will face the winner between the Kentucky Wildcats and Ohio state Buckeyes.
"Quarterfinals in the 2022 DI men’s tennis championship have come to a close. Thursday brought three massive upsets with No. 8 Kentucky taking down No. 1 TCU, No. 7 Virginia defeating No. 2 Florida and No. 6 Tennessee besting No. 3 Baylor."
Track and Field leadership change announced – UTSports
Athletic director Danny White announced that the Tennessee Vols track and field program has mutually parted ways with director Beth Alford-Sullivan. Assistant Ken Harnden will serve as interim director until a replacement is found.
"Alford-Sullivan has led Tennessee’s combined men’s & women’s program for eight seasons. In June of 2014, she became the first female head coach in SEC history to oversee a men’s program (in any sport). Under her direction, dozens of program records were broken and Tennessee student-athletes captured 31 individual or relay SEC titles and eight individual or relay NCAA championships."