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BASEBALL REPORT: Installation Ongoing

Sept. 25, 2012


VINCENT JACKSON

One of 25 newcomers on the Tennessee roster, freshman Vincent Jackson is enjoying his first taste of Division I baseball.

"It's been great," Jackson said. "Just going through practice and learning all this new stuff that the coaches have been telling us. It's just great to learn new things about the game of baseball."

A 6-5 left-handed pitcher and outfielder, Jackson is quickly acclimating himself to the Tennessee style of baseball.

"We've been playing the game for all our lives," Jackson said. "Half of the stuff we know and are just getting a refresher on it and then it's just getting to know new stuff and letting it sink it. It's just about playing the game. That's all you can do is play the game and learn the game of baseball."

Although he was drafted in the 23rd round of the last year's MLB Draft by the New York Yankees, Jackson always knew he was coming to school.

"I love the atmosphere of college baseball, that's why I came here just to be around the field and the fast-paced motion of everything," Jackson said. "I knew Tennessee was like that because I watched practice and the games online and TV. It's great being out here."

Often described as a "five-tool player," Jackson knows which one of those tools he thinks is most important.

"I can contribute anywhere whether it is hitting, my defense or my running game," Jackson said. "That's one thing I have really stressed on myself the past two years is getting speed. Speed is the game. It's a man's game but you have to have speed to get where you are going."

As a two-way player, the McDonough, Ga., native is hoping to make an immediate impact during his freshman campaign. Exactly where is still yet to be determined though.

"That's for coach to decide," Jackson said. "I do both positions full-out. I give 100 percent to everything. In practice I go through both positions just learning stuff about both. I love it and that's another reason why I came here. I love pitching and I love being a hitter."

Baseball isn't the only thing he loves though. You can add a particular anime series to that list as well.

"I'm a big Dragon Ball Z fan," Jackson said. "I'm a big fanatic of that show. It's a little old, but I've always loved show and watch the reruns. Me and my cousins grew up watching that when I was little and it always stuck with me. That's my weird fact, I guess."

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The problem with intra-squad scrimmages is that when one part of the team has success, it often comes at the expense of another.

That is exactly what the Tennessee baseball team saw during its second scrimmage of fall practice on Tuesday at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

While the pitching and defense weren't quite as sharp as the UT coaching staff would have liked, they were pleased with the performance on the offensive side of the ball.

"Offensively, I think the pitching and defense created some offense for us but we capitalized on those mistakes and free passes and we got some things done," associate head coach Greg Bergeron said. "The baserunning was pretty aggressive, first-and-third was good, we read some balls in the dirt and we got key hits when they gave us the opportunity to do that."

The Vols began the process of installing Bergeron's "pressure" offense on Monday and the results came quickly, although it remains a work in progress.

"[The installation] has been pretty good," Bergeron said. "Yesterday, I thought we threw a lot at them and they grasped it pretty quick. Today we were able to do some things and they are picking up on it but it's still new. A lot of these guys have probably never been asked to bunt before, have never been asked to hit-and-run before, so it's a new process, but they are picking up on it pretty good."

As is always the case when beginning to put a system in place, the Big Orange is learning on the go.

"It's like information overload and it can become so much information that you become robotic," Bergeron said. "What we try to do is tell these guys that they are here for a reason. You are good players, so let your baseball instincts take over, but kind of become a sponge and take in all that information. When you get back home at night, try to digest it, but don't analyze it while you are on the field. Just be a baseball player and then when you get off the field, figure it out from there.

Tennessee's next scrimmage is set for 5 p.m. on Thursday. All fall practices are free and open to the public.

For more information about Tennessee baseball and a complete weekly practice schedule, visit UTSports.com/Baseball, follow @Vol_Baseball on Twitter or like the Vols on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/VolBaseball.

SUCCESS WITH SLOWING IT DOWN

Dave Serrano is a firm believer that the changeup is the most effective pitch in baseball. In order to help his pitchers develop the off-speed offering, he only allows them to throw fastballs and changeups during fall practice.

If any of the 11 new pitchers on this year's roster are looking for proof that the strategy works, they need to look no further than staff ace Zack Godley.

After adding a changeup to his repertoire last fall, the 6-3 senior established himself as the team's top pitcher, going 4-2 with a squad-best 3.50 ERA in 12 appearances last year, including seven Friday night starts.

Godley bought in to the pitch early and it paid off.

"Coming in last fall not having a changeup, getting the opportunity to work on it was great," Godley said. "Now this fall, you can tell everyone is getting a much better feel for their changeup. With me, I am just getting more of a feel for it and I'm excited to see what it does going later into the fall and this season."

This summer, Godley had the opportunity to continue working with Serrano and put his changeup on display with the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team in North Carolina where he pitched in four games, striking out eight in six innings of work. He picked up the win in his debut with the Red, White and Blue and posted a 1.50 ERA.

He is quick to attribute his success over the last year to the pitch Serrano teaches so well.

"The changup is the best pitch in baseball, hands down," Godley said. "If you can master that, locate your fastball and then come in and take a little something off it is huge. Hitters are off-balance off the time. Coach Serrano has helped me a lot with developing mine and I used it a lot last year. I just have to stay committed to it."

 

 

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