Two Diamond Vols invited to Olympic Trials

( -- Tennessee baseball players Kentrail Davis and Bryan Morgado are among the first 12 players to accept invitations to take part in the USA Baseball National Team Trials, USA Baseball announced Thursday. This continues Tennessee’s longstanding relationship with the national governing body for the sport.

The trials take place June 11-23 throughout the northeast and southeast United States and will include 32 of the nation’s top collegians. The 22-man roster will be announced on June 24, and the team’s summer schedule begins June 25 vs. Chinese Taipei in Greenville, S.C.

Including Davis and Morgado, Tennessee has now had 15 players invited to the National Team Trials a total of 20 times since 1992—including six invitees over the last five seasons.

“Receiving an invitation to the National Team Trials is a tremendous honor,” UT head coach Todd Raleigh said. “Kentrail and Bryan have certainly earned this opportunity through their hard work this season.

“Having two players selected is also an honor for this program. There’s a history with Tennessee and USA Baseball that began with great players like Todd Helton and R.A. Dickey. We want to continue to build on that and produce the nation’s best.”

Davis, a true freshman outfielder from Theodore, Ala., has been Tennessee’s top offensive performer this season. The Vols starting centerfielder throughout the year, he leads the team in batting average (.346), hits (63), triples (3), home runs (12), RBI (43), total bases (111), slugging (.610), hit-by-pitches (14) and on-base percentage (.444).

He has hit multiple home runs in four separate games this year, and also leads the team with 20 multi-hit games and 12 multi-RBI games.

“I just feel blessed to be chosen for such an honorable experience,” Davis said. “I’m looking forward to trying out with some of the top college baseball players in the country.”

One of the nation’s most prolific strikeout artists in 2008, Morgado owns a 5-3 record through 12 appearances with a 3.88 ERA. The redshirt-freshman left-hander from Miami, Fla., ranks second in the Southeastern Conference and 10th among all NCAA Division I pitchers with 91 total strikeouts on the year (11.76 Ks per nine innings). He has struck out 10 more hitters five times this season, including a season-high 12 Ks in his collegiate debut against Furman on Feb. 25.

“The chance to have an opportunity to represent my country and the University of Tennessee means the world to me,” Morgado said. “I’m going to give it my best, and hopefully Kentrail and I can both earn a spot on the roster.”

Tennessee joins Cal State Fullerton as the only two teams in the nation with multiple players among the initial 12 trials participants.

USA Baseball has been operating and selecting the U.S. National Team since the mid-1970s, and the team came into full fruition at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, Calif. The team's 2008 summer schedule includes a six-game friendship series against Chinese Taipei and a month-long trip to Europe where the team will compete in Haarlem Baseball Week in the Netherlands and in the IV FISU World Collegiate Baseball Championship in the Czech Republic.

Tennessee’s all-time USA Baseball National Team alumni include Todd Helton (1993, 1994), R.A. Dickey (1994, 1995, 1996), Augie Ojeda (1995, 1996), Chris Burke (2000), Javi Herrera (2001), Luke Hochevar (2004), J.P. Arencibia (2005, 2006) and Julio Borbon (2006). Five of those elite players advanced all the way to the Major Leagues later in their careers, while three (Herrera, Arencibia and Borbon) are currently working their way up the minor-league ranks.

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