Neyland Stadium jumbotron receives upgrades

After months of question and confusion, the jumbotron atop Neyland Stadium finally received an update. Tennessee added former team captain Al Wilson, hall of fame head coach Robert Neyland and Jason Witten to the jumbotron.

Before the update, Butch Jones, General Neyland and Reggie White loomed over the Tennessee River. Fans expressed outrage and confusion after the terminated Jones remained on the jumbotron. Nearly four months later, crews removed the former coach’s image.

Many fans approved of Neyland and White on the jumbotron. However, the university decided to change all three photos. While Neyland remains on the jumbotron, he receives recognition in a new picture. The previous photo showed Neyland in a Volunteers baseball jersey. Now, he is shown in his iconic kneeling position, much like the one his statue portrays in the stadium concourse.

Wilson replaced Jones on March 5. The former linebacker Wilson captained the 1998 National Championship team and went on to play eight years in the NFL after his tenure from 1995-98 as a Vol.

Jason Witten replaces Reggie White. Witten played for the Vols from 2000-2003 and left after his junior season for the NFL. Witten played all 15 seasons of his pro career with the Dallas Cowboys. The Elizabethton native left Tennessee with the third-most receptions by a tight end and fourth-most receiving yards by a tight end in program history.

With the new trio of Wilson, Neyland and Witten ready to go for the beginning of the Pruitt era, Vols fans look forward to the coming season. Though pictures on a jumbotron seem like little to celebrate, Tennessee fans will take any upgrades after a disastrous 2017 season.

Edited by Seth Raborn

Featured image courtesy of Mark Nagi 

Tennessee baseball sweeps first away series of season

In their first series away from Knoxville, Tennessee (11-6) swept the Cincinnati Bearcats (7-8) winning by a combined margin of 12-8 on the weekend. The Vols came into the series untested away from home and proved they can play no matter where their schedule takes them.

Game one came down to the wire in the second extra innings game of the season. Tennessee won 3-2 after 12 innings of play. A pitcher’s duel headlined the majority of the game. Late inning walks and hot bats carried the Volunteers to victory. Freshman Garrett Crochet pitched a career-high eight innings and struck out eight batters on the evening. Tennessee’s bullpen combined for 14 total strikeouts in the win.

Vols Head Coach Tony Vitello felt Friday’s win was one of Tennessee’s biggest of the season.

“They’re all big wins. I would classify this one as a huge one,” Vitello said. “This was a really well-played ballgame led by two great lefties who are two of the better lefties in the country, I feel.”

Game two also went to the Vols with right-hander Garrett Stallings tossing for eight innings. He struck out four batters and allowed four earned runs in the 7-5 victory. Senior Brodie Leftridge, who hit two RBI singles to tie the game up in the fourth and sixth inning, proved to be Tennessee’s Saturday hero.

Leftridge gave the key to completing the series sweep.

“Just being aggressive and not worrying about a sweep and winning the day,” Leftridge said. With a series win already completed, the Vols looked to capture a series sweep Sunday.

On the final day of the series inside Marge Schott Stadium in Cincinnati, junior Will Neely led the Volunteers. He pitched a complete game. Sophomore Justin Ammons hit an RBI single in the bottom of the ninth inning to push Tennessee to a 2-1 win and a series sweep. Pete Derkay and Benito Santiago both reached base in game three, extending both of their hitting streaks.

“All of my pitches were working today, especially my sinker and slider,” Neely said about his success on the mound. “Both of them had really great movement on them and I was able to throw them for strikes.”

With their first series sweep of the season, the Vols turn their attention to Western Carolina. Tennessee hosts the Catamounts in Knoxville at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. The Volunteers begin SEC play with road trip to Oxford, Mississippi for a three-game series against Ole Miss on Friday.

Edited by Seth Raborn/Lexie Little

Featured image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics

Vols thump Razorbacks, advance to SEC Championship

No. 2 seed and 13th-ranked Tennessee beat sixth-seeded Arkansas in the semifinal round of the SEC Tournament by a score of 84-66 on Saturday. The Vols lost the first meeting of the season 95-93 on Dec. 30th in Fayetteville. With a chance to play for an SEC Tournament Championship, Tennessee looked locked and loaded from the start.

The Volunteers got off to a strong start behind sophomore guard Jordan Bone. In the first half, Bone went 7-of-7 shooting, while hitting three 3-pointers. His strong first half performance helped the Tennessee take a 19-point lead in to the half. Bone finished the game with a team-high 19 points and four assists in the win.

I just think starting off the game we were really aggressive. It’s really just playing within the offense,” said Bone about his performance. “Shots were falling, and we were playing against a really good defensive team.”

Four other Vols ended the day in double- digit scoring along with Bone. Admiral Schofield scored 16 points while Grant Williams, James Daniel III and Kyle Alexander had 12 points apiece. Alexander also had seven rebounds and two blocks to lead the team, while Williams finished with five rebounds, four assists and a blocked shot.

Tennessee is currently on a six-game win streak and have won 13 out of its last 15 games. It seems that head coach Rick Barnes has his team clicking on all cylinders at the right time. The Volunteers have one final game before they find out their fate for the NCAA Tournament, and it comes against their rival to the North, Kentucky.

The Wildcats beat Alabama on Saturday 86-63 prior to Tennessee’s game against the Razorbacks. Tennessee beat Kentucky in the two previous meetings this season. With a championship on the line, the Vols can expect to get the best out of the young Wildcats team.

“They’re a totally different team than they were then. I’ve been watching them,” said Barnes on Kentucky. “His (John Calipari’s) teams always get better late in the year. It looks like they’ve really made a commitment to really play big, strong basketball inside.”

Tennessee has a chance to win their first SEC Tournament Championship since 1979 on Sunday. The Vols beat the Wildcats in their 1979 championship game, as they look to repeat history. Sunday’s game will be the first appearance for Tennessee in the tournament championship game since 2009.

“It’s championship season, fatigue does play a factor,” said Schofield. “But everyone is tired this time of year. The biggest thing is who wants it most.”

With their win over the Razorbacks, the Volunteers continued their perfect record in rematch games on the season. Tip off for the championship game is set for 1 p.m. ET and will be aired on ESPN.

Edited by Seth Raborn

Featured image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics

No. 13 Tennessee looks to make a splash in SEC Tournament

It is that time of year again, when SEC basketball fans alike congregate together and watch their respected teams compete in the annual SEC Tournament. This year’s tournament will be held in St. Louis, Missouri at the Scottrade Center for the first time in the tournament’s history. For all those competing or watching the games, the tournament never disappoints.

After being named Co-Champions of the SEC, the 13th-ranked and No. 2 seed Tennessee Volunteers (23-7, 13-5 SEC) look to claim an outright title in the tournament and continue their four-game winning streak. Because of the Vols high seeding in this year’s tournament, Tennessee has been awarded a double-bye and will play their first game of the tournament on Friday.

The Volunteers are riding high after head coach Rick Barnes took home the SEC Coach of the Year award, and forward Grant Williams also raked in SEC Player of the Year. Guard Lamonte Turner also notched a Co-Sixth Man of the Year trophy to add on to Tennessee’s success recently.

Still, the Vols have never favored well in the SEC Tournament, as their last tournament championship came in 1979. Facing the winner of Mississippi State or LSU in their first game, Tennessee has to like its chances moving forward. Many concerns arose during the final week of the season in regard to seeding and who the Vols would have to play. It seems now that Tennessee is in a perfect position to make it to the championship game on Sunday.

If they beat the winner of Mississippi State and LSU on Friday, their remaining opponents would be either Ole Miss, South Carolina, Arkansas or Florida. The Volunteers beat all but one team in the group of five, as they lost a heartbreaker to the Razorbacks in Fayetteville on Dec. 30 by a score of 95-93 in overtime. Arkansas is tough to beat at home, and Tennessee’s team has drastically changed since then, which should give Volunteers fans optimism in the tournament.

Dodging teams such as Auburn, Kentucky and Missouri until the championship game is best case scenario for the orange-and-white. Those teams are some of the hottest teams in the league right now, and luckily the Vols would only have to face one in the championship game, if any of them manage to make it that far. Any way you look at it, Tennessee is set up for success in the SEC Tournament this year.

Barnes is 33-29 all-time in conference tournament games and has more total conference tournament wins than the Volunteers do since the re-creation of the SEC Tournament in 1979. His last conference championship came in 1995, when he led Providence to a Big East Championship.

Tennessee’s first game of the tournament will be at 6 p.m. ET on Friday. Each of the SEC Tournament games will be broadcasted on the SEC Network. A win for the Volunteers would advance them to the semifinals of the tournament for the first time since 2014.

Edited by Seth Raborn

Featured image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics

Vols split mid-week series with James Madison

The Tennessee Volunteers baseball team hosted the Dukes of James Madison University (8-5) for a midweek series in Knoxville. The Vols took the first game with a 10-1 win, while the Dukes took the second game 21-2. Tennessee moved to 8-6 on the season following the two-games series.

In game one, hot bats and string pitching led the orange-and-white to victory. Scoring seven runs in the first inning, Tennessee had a firm grasp on a win. Freshman pitcher Sean Hunley got his third start of the season. Hunley struck out six batters and pitched seven scoreless innings, tallying his second win of the season.

All nine players for the Vols had a hit, while six drove in runs Tuesday afternoon. Senior catcher and locker room leader Benito Santiago scored two runs and went 3-3 at the plate. Tennessee notched 14 hits in the win, a season high for the team.

Despite a big first inning, the Volunteers did not score another run until the bottom of the seventh inning when freshman infielder Brandon Trammell hit a two-run home run to extend the Tennessee lead to 9-0. The Vols’ final run of the game came in the bottom of the eighth inning from an Alex Sosnowski RBI groundout.

The Dukes finally got on the board in the top of the ninth inning, but time did not allow for a comeback. Tennessee finished off the first game of the series 10-1.

“You want as many of these games as possible where it’s a feel good deal,” Volunteers Head Coach Tony Vitello said. “You get to play several people and get some guys some opportunities, and see several guys have success.”

However, game two of the series proved unsuccessful for Tennessee. After a dominating performance in game one, James Madison hammered the Vols Wednesday afternoon. With five runs in the first two innings, the Dukes too Tennessee out of the contest early. The Dukes only tallied two scoreless innings in the whole game. Tennessee only scored two runs.

The Volunteers’ ultimate demise came in pitching, as they pitched a total of five players in the game. The script from game one flipped, and James Madison took advantage. First baseman Pete Derkay provided one of the only bright spots for Tennessee, when he hit a two-run RBI single in the bottom of the seventh which scored two runners. The 21-2 loss marked the worst loss for the Vols since a 1987 loss to Memphis State.

Tennessee’s next contest will be a three-game road series against Cincinnati starting March 9. SEC play begins March 16-18 when the Volunteers will travel to Oxford, Mississippi to take on the Rebels of Ole Miss.

Edited by Seth Raborn/Lexie Little

Featured image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics

Lady Vols sweep Mary Nutter Classic

The 2018 Mary Nutter Classic in Cathedral City, California hosts some of the best softball talent every year. Each team that competes in the yearly classic has a chance to walk away undefeated or without a win. This year was no different.

Tennessee entered the tournament as the No. 11 team in the country with a 10-1 record. Coached by Ralph and Karen Weekly, the Lady Vols were a favorite to sweep their Nutter Classic schedule, and they did just that.

In their first game, Tennessee routed BYU 13-0. Defending SEC Player of the Year Meghan Gregg hit her second home run of the year, bringing in two runs in the top of the first. Ace pitcher Caylan Arnold finished the day with four strikeouts while only allowing three hits.

Tennessee then took on the Wildcats of Bethune-Cookman. In the second inning, junior Abby Lockman hit a solo homer over the right field fence to give Tennessee a 3-1 lead. Matty Moss picked up the win over the Wildcats after allowing one run and striking out four. The 7-1 victory kept the Lady Vols perfect on the first day of the classic.

On day two, Tennessee’s first game came against UC Davis. Much like their first game against BYU, the Lady Vols did not allow any runs to the Aggies. Tennessee didn’t waste any time scoring, as RBI’s from Chelsea Seggern and Scarlet McSwain gave the Lady Vols an early 2-0 lead. Matty Moss got the win and improved to 7-1 on the season.

The Vols face the Oregon State Beavers next. Arguably playing against their best competition so far in the classic, the Lady Vols looked to establish their dominance early.

Meghan Gregg blasted a 3 run home run in the top of the first to give the Lady Vols a 3-0 lead. Tennessee’s bats stayed cold until the fifth and sixth innings, when the Lady Vols scored three runs each. Tennessee beat Oregon State 9-3 and remained perfect in the classic.

Day three started with the toughest team that the Lady Vols face this season, the No. 2 Oregon Ducks.

Tennessee knew that if it wanted to win, the Lady Vols would have to score early. The only run in the game came from Jenna Holcomb after Gregg hit an RBI double in the bottom of the first. The Lady Vols beat Oregon 1-0 thanks to strong outings from pitchers Matty Moss and Caylan Arnold.

The sixth and final game of the Mary Nutter Classic for Tennessee came against Northwestern. Caylan Arnold carried the Lady Vols with a dominating pitching performance and her season high 13 strikeouts.

Arnold improved to 6-0 on the season after her performance against the Wildcats. Chelsea Seggern drove in three runs to push Tennessee to a 6-1 win on Saturday afternoon.

With the win, the Lady Vols remained perfect in the Mary Nutter Classic and showed the country how dominant they can be. They improve to 16-1 on the season and look to continue their streak. Their next game will come against Charleston Southern on Friday, March 2 in the Tennessee Invitational in Knoxville.

Edited by Seth Raborn

Feature image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics