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Diamond Vols ready for big weekend

UT Baseball and Softball are ready to hit the field
Published: Feb. 19, 2021 at 1:02 AM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - The highly-anticipated 2021 season for the 16th ranked Tennessee Volunteers baseball team has finally arrived. The Big Orange travel south to take on the Georgia Southern Eagles this weekend to open the 2021 campaign.

Friday’s season opener will mark the first game for UT since March 10, 2020 – a span of 346 days – after the 2020 season was halted and eventually canceled entirely due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

PROJECTED STARTING PITCHERS

Game 1: RHP Chad Dallas vs. RHP Jordan Jackson

Game 2: RHP Blade Tidwell vs. RHP Chase Dollander

Game 3: TBD vs. LHP Braden Hays

SERIES HISTORY

The Vols and Eagles have met seven times on the diamond but haven’t faced off since a 6-1 Tennessee victory in the 1996 NCAA Clemson Regional. This weekend will be the Vols’ third trip to Statesboro in program history. UT split a pair of two-game series in Statesboro back in 1966 and 1971.

Tennessee in Season Openers

The Vols will look to earn their third straight season-opening win when they square off against the Eagles on Friday. UT is 73-35-2 all-time in season openers and 2-1 under Tony Vitello. UT has also had great success historically when opening the season with a series against a single opponent. The Vols have won 21 of the 30 season-opening series in program history (does not include tournaments or two-game series). 

All-American Vols

Tennessee enters the year with five preseason All-Americans, marking the second straight season that the Vols have had multiple players earn preseason All-America honors. Junior INF Max Ferguson leads the way with three preseason All-America nods, including first-team honors from Baseball America and D1Baseball.com. Ferguson was also named to the preseason All-SEC second team. Fellow juniors Jake Rucker (INF) and Connor Pavolony (C), as well as senior Jackson Leath (RHP) and sophomore Drew Gilbert (OF/LHP), also garnered preseason All-America accolades. 

Vols in the Polls

Tennessee enters the 2021 season ranked in the Top 25 nationally in four of the six major polls. This year marks the first time that the Vols have been ranked in the preseason Top 25 since 2007, when UT was ranked as high as No. 11 to begin the season. The Big Orange climbed as high as No. 11 in the USA Today Top 25 last season after starting the year 13-0. That marked the program’s highest ranking in any poll since coming in at No. 11 in the Baseball America 2007 preseason rankings. 

Tennessee Softball

No. RV/23/24 Tennessee continues its 13-game home stand with a Saturday-Monday slate of doubleheaders at Sherri Parker Lee. The Lady Vols welcome the Redhawks of SEMO Saturday at noon ET and 2:30 p.m., before hosting the RedHawks of Miami (OH) on Sunday in the same time slots.Weekend play extends into Monday with a twin bill against Ohio at 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.

After inclement weather made play unlikely during opening weekend at a scheduled tournament in Conway, S.C., the Lady Vols returned to Knoxville and were able to sneak in a pair of outings against Eastern Kentucky to prevent the first weekend from being a complete wash.UT is coming off of an undefeated Sunday after run-ruling the Colonels 10-0 to pick up their 11th consecutive season-opening victory, before posting a 3-2 comeback win in game 2 of the twin bill.

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