March 1, 2012
BY COURTNEY FRITTS
As the Vol baseball team travels to Houston, one player in particular is looking forward to the trip more than most. Junior centerfielder Chris Fritts, a Houston native, is especially excited about traveling to his hometown to play in the Houston College Classic this weekend.
Besides just being back in Houston, Fritts is also looking forward to playing in Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros.
"Everybody from Texas is pretty prideful, and I am from Texas, so I am very excited to go home and play," Fritts said. "I haven't played in front of my family at home for a while. It has taken them a lot of traveling to come and see me play in the years that I have been here.
"It is really special to go home and almost be in my backyard and play in a place that I have never played before, but have always looked up to the guys that have played there. It is going to be very special and a lot of fun."
The Southeastern Conference RBI leader with 13 already this season, Fritts is hitting .308 on the year with one home run, a pair of doubles and two stolen bases. In UT's series sweep over Seton Hall last weekend, the junior reached base in 11 of 18 plate appearances and drove in a team-high five runs.
The Vols are currently 7-1, good for the second-best start in school history behind only the 1992 and 2003 campaigns when they opened with eight consecutive wins. This weekend, Tennessee will square off with a trio of teams from the Lone Star State in Houston, No. 16 Texas and No. 4 Rice.
Fritts summed up this weekend's competition in one word.
"Quality," Fritts said. "They are good programs that have had a lot of success, and no one knows that probably better than me. Growing up, my mom used to take me a lot of the Rice games whenever they played or were in super-regionals. It's going to be very fun to play teams that I have seen growing up."
Following Fritts' 21st birthday last Monday, this belated birthday present of visiting his hometown is not only a gift to him, but also to his family and friends.
"I'm really excited about this trip," Fritts said. "Playing at Minute Maid Park is like a little kid from the Bronx getting to play in Yankee Stadium. I'm going to have a lot of family and friends there [to see me play]. I think my t-ball coach is coming, and I'm looking forward to seeing everyone."
All three games this weekend will be televised with the contests against Houston and Rice available on ESPN3.com and Saturday's matchup with Texas set to air on the Longhorn Network. Kevin Dunn and former Longhorn and MLB star Greg Swindell will call the action.
Following the team's trip to Houston, the Vols will return to Rocky Top for a 6 p.m. showdown against Ball State on Wednesday, March 7.
For the most up-to-date information about the Tennessee baseball program, visit UTSports.com/baseball and follow @Vol_Baseball on Twitter.