Todd Raleigh got everything he could have asked for.
The Tennessee coach also might have got one thing he never would have wanted.
The Vols opened the season with solid starting pitching, a powerful offense and a handful of flashy defensive plays in an easy 16-6 win over Xavier at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. But for all the positives Raleigh saw on Friday, the one thing he didn't want to see was preseason All-American Cody Hawn crumpled on the ground holding his left shoulder.
"It's not good, you know, but hopefully it's nothing too serious," Raleigh said. "From what I could see, it was on a rundown play and the throw was a little high, and I think he went to reach to tag him and the blessing was it's his non-throwing shoulder.
"Being his non-throwing shoulder, hopefully it's not as long a recovery since he doesn't have to throw. I'm hoping, but I don't know, he might be just fine. I don't know, we're not real sure. We need him now, but we're really going to need him later on."
Hawn was set for an MRI and X-ray, but the Vols (1-0) at least moved on just fine without him against the Musketeers (0-1), who were overpowered by a free-swinging offense and a steady effort by left-hander Bryan Morgado on the mound.
UT didn't waste time or many pitches once they finally got on the field, offering at the first delivery seven straight times in the first inning on the way to three runs and a lead it would never give up.
Hawn was included in that group, but he didn't actually get to swing after getting drilled with a pitch from Xavier starter Nate Mutsch. That play didn't knock him out of the game though, and he showed how important he is in the next frame by crushing the first pitch deep over the left-field wall for a two-run homer - opening up a rout that didn't slow down even after he was removed in the top of the fifth.
“I think we kind of tried to pick up the slack a little bit,” center fielder Josh Liles said. “All I know is he went in there and got treatment as soon as it happened. I really don’t know, but it would certainly be a big loss for us if we lost him. Hopefully he can get back very soon, and we would sure miss him if he’s gone.
“It hurts you because it’s your teammate, it’s your brother, you do everything with them, and it could be any of us. If he’s not there, somebody’s definitely going to have to step up.”
The Vols appear to have some options to do it.
Liles rapped out three hits and also unloaded with a deep two-run homer. Freshman Nick Blount turned in two perfect innings in relief of Morgado. Leadoff hitter P.J. Polk went 3-for-4 with a walk and scored three runs, and Khayyan Norfork added four more hits and a couple runs at the bottom of the lineup.
Even Hawn’s replacement got in the act with senior Matt Hamaker coming off the bench and delivering a run-scoring triple in his first at-bat, at least temporarily helping the Vols get over what could be a big problem should tests reveal a serious injury.
“We played a pretty good game,” Raleigh said. “I thought we came out ready to play, we swung the bats great, made some good defensive plays and Bryan pitched good and set the tone for us. They had I think three infield singles that one inning they scored, but other than that I thought we were good.
“I don’t have much to complain about tonight.”
Depending on Hawn’s status, that could be subject to change. But for starters, Raleigh will take the result.