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Led By Stubbs, First-Year Vols Making an Early Impact



Feb. 25, 2010

BY AUSTIN BAIRD
UTSports.com

There was reason for concern in Tennessee's dugout when All-American first baseman Cody Hawn injured his shoulder Friday night in the season opener against Xavier.

The anxiety eased some with news that Hawn could return to the lineup as early as this weekend's series at No. 10 Oregon State.

And it helped when another Cody -- albeit a few years younger than Hawn -- delivered a big-time hit.

Trailing 6-5 in the ninth inning on Saturday, freshman Cody Stubbs delivered the biggest hit of his young career - and Tennessee's young season.

Stubbs stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and ripped a single to right-center. Josh Liles and P.J. Polk scored to give the Vols a 7-6 win. And the celebration began.

"Cody Stubbs had a big hit in a big-time situation," UT coach Todd Raleigh said. "He's picking up right where he left off in high school.

"You don't want your freshman to have to wait a long time to have some success. The pressure builds when that happens. Luckily for us, that wasn't a problem this weekend."

Stubbs' walk-off single was the most visible contribution by a first-year player during the Vols' series sweep of Xavier to open the season, but it was far from the only one.

Transfers Khayyan Norfork and Matt Duffy both produced in their first three games with the Vols.

Norfork, who spent the last two seasons as an infielder at Jackson (Tenn.) State Community College, led the Vols with four steals and posted a .615 on-base-percentage. He also scored five runs.

 

 

In his first outing as the Vols' new third baseman, Duffy had five RBI. And although driving in runs isn't exactly new for Duffy, who had 57 RBI and was named America East Player of the Year last season at Vermont, having newcomers contribute so quickly can be.

"It's pretty rare to get a couple transfers that can come in and help right away," Raleigh said. "But that's exactly what we have with Norfork and Duffy. If we run the bases like we did this weekend and keep getting (Norfork and Polk) on base a lot, we'll put up a lot of runs this year."

And Stubbs hopes to keep driving them in, dramatic or not.

"It's every kid's dream to get hits like that and to help their team win a game in the ninth inning," Stubbs said. "What kid doesn't think about that in their backyard?"

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