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PREVIEW: Third-ranked Vols set for road tilt at Western Carolina

Tennessee has won the last six meetings in the series, including the past four road contests
Connor Pavolony
Connor Pavolony(Tennessee Athletic Communications)
Published: Apr. 13, 2021 at 2:43 PM EDT
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CULLOWHEE, N.C. (WVLT) - No. 3 Tennessee opens play this week with a quick trip to Western Carolina to take on the Catamounts Tuesday at 5 p.m.

This will be the second meeting between the two programs this season after the Vols earned a 9-2 win in Knoxville on March 30. The Catamounts enter Tuesday’s contest on a five-game winning streak.

SERIES HISTORY

Overall: Tennessee leads, 23-7

In Knoxville: Tennessee leads, 17-4

In Cullowhee: Tennessee leads, 5-3

Neutral Sites: Tennessee leads, 1-0

Last Meeting: W, 9-2 (March 30, 2021)

Tennessee has won the last six meetings in the series, including the past four road contests.

Perfect Game Midseason Accolades

Tennessee head coach Tony Vitello and freshman pitcher Blade Tidwell earned some serious recognition from Perfect Game last week. Vitello was named the Midseason Coach of the Year while Tidwell was tabbed as a Freshman All-American.

Making History

The Vols have continued to reach new highs this season and set another new standard on Monday, earning their highest ranking in program history. UT is ranked No. 3 in the USA Today Top 25 and Perfect Game top 25 poll.

Impressive in SEC Play

Tennessee’s 9-3 record through 12 SEC games is its best since 2004. The Big Orange are currently tied for first in the eastern division with in-state rival Vanderbilt. With their series win over the Gators last weekend, the Vols have secured a win in each of their first four conference series for the first time since 1970.

Aussie On Base

Liam Spence is coming off another impressive week where he batted .429 and drew five walks. The senior from Geelong, Australia has reached base in 34 consecutive games played dating back to last season. Spence leads the SEC or is tied for the lead in batting average (.405), runs (35) and on-base percentage (.538).

OPPONENT SCOUT

Western Carolina Catamounts

2021 Record: 18-7 (6-2 SoCon)

Rankings: Not Ranked

2019 Postseason: N/A

Head Coach: Bobby Moranda (14th season) // Has led the Catamounts to a pair of Southern Conference regular-season championships and a SoCon Tournament title in 2016.

Predicted SoCon Finish: T-5th (Coaches) // 6th (Media)

Preseason All-SoCon Selections: Zach Franklin (1st Team – RP), Luke Robinson (1st Team – C), Justice Bigbie (1st Team – OF)

Stat Leaders:

Batting Avg: Will Prater (.426)

Runs: Justice Bigbie (37)

Hits: Luke Robinson (37)

Home Runs: Luke Robinson (8)

RBI: Luke Robinson (33)

Stolen Bases: Justice Bigbie (7-7)

Wins: Zebby Matthews (5)

ERA (min. 15.0 IP): Zach Franklin (1.74)

Innings Pitched: Zebby Matthews (42.1)

Strikeouts: Zebby Matthews (41)

Notable: Lead the nation in runs per game (9.3) and rank second nationally in on-base percentage (.433).

ON DECK

Tennessee hosts No. 2 Vanderbilt for a huge in-state and conference showdown between top-five teams at Lindsey Nelson Stadium this weekend. Friday’s series opener will begin at 7 p.m. and be televised on ESPNU.

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