March 3, 2014
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Off to the best start in Tennessee baseball history, the unbeaten Diamond Vols moved into the USA Today Coaches’ Poll at No. 21 on Monday, and climbed nine spots to No. 19 in the latest Collegiate Baseball Newspaper table.
Tennessee (10-0) enters the USA Today Coaches’ top 25 for the first time since the organization’s 2007 preseason poll, when the Vols began the season ranked 25th. Collegiate Baseball bumped the Vols up from No. 28 to No. 19 after UT’s third-consecutive series sweep. The No. 19 ranking is the highest for the Vols since Baseball America tabbed the Big Orange 11th in the country to start the 2007 season. Tennessee is also receiving votes in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) poll this week.
The Vols have swept Purdue, then-No. 29 UNLV and Quinnipiac, and taken a midweek matchup from Appalachian State to start the season 10-0. UT is one of just two unbeaten teams in the nation (South Carolina) and currently holds the longest winning streak in the country at 11 games, dating to last season’s final win over Texas A&M. Outscoring Quinnipiac by a combined margin of 26-9, UT has recorded three-consecutive weekend series sweeps for the first time since 2005.
Tennessee currently ranks third in the Southeastern Conference in team batting average (.317), second in on-base percentage (.436), fourth in slugging percentage (.448) and leads the league with six triples. On the mound, the Vols have allowed the second-fewest hits (60) and have the fourth-best batting average against (.192).
Individually, junior infielder Will Maddox is leading the way for the Orange and White. This week’s SEC Player of the Week, Maddox is currently hitting .385 for the season with team highs in runs scored (13), slugging percentage (.692) and stolen bases (4). He has yet to strikeout in 36 plate appearances and ranks second in the SEC in both slugging and on-base percentage (.543).
Tennessee has six players hitting over .300 (min. 10 ABs). Senior infielder Taylor Smart leads the team with a .448 batting average, while freshman Nick Senzel is at an even .400. Outfielders Christin Stewart, who’s tied for the league lead with two triples, and Scott Price are tied for the team lead with 11 RBIs and have each gone yard once this season. Maddox and Senzel have also homered for UT. Smart leads the conference with a .579 on-base percentage and Senzel ranks fourth in the category at .525.
On the mound, the Vols have had stellar performances from Andy Cox, Nick Williams, Andrew Lee and Kyle Serrano. Cox sports a team-best 0.50 ERA with a team-high tying 18 innings pitched. He’s allowed just one run and five hits, while striking out 13 and earning two wins. Williams paces the squad with a 3-0 record, having won the Vols’ three series openers. Williams has also only allowed five hits and struck out 13 through 18 innings of work. Williams and Cox rank 2-3 in the SEC in opposing batting average with .091 and .093 marks, respectively.
The Vols host La Salle (1-9) for two midweek games on Tuesday and Wednesday this week, before heading to Tempe, Ariz., for a three-game series with No. 24 Arizona State (6-4) on the weekend. First pitch between UT and La Salle is slated for 6 p.m. both nights.
For the most up-to-date information on Volunteer baseball, visit www.UTSports.com/Baseball, follow @Vol_Baseball on Twitter and like the Vols at Facebook.com/VolBaseball. To purchase tickets to upcoming games, visit UTTix.com.