Zack Godley 'to be tone setter' for pitching staff

Look for senior 'to be tone setter' for pitching staff

Senior pitcher Zack Godley had an extra task at hand when Tennessee's baseball team started fall practices Sept. 23.

There were 19 freshmen on the roster, not to mention several other newcomers.

"Learning the names of everyone was probably the hardest thing to do," Godley said Wednesday.

UT's fall workouts ended last Sunday when the final scrimmage was canceled due to rain.

Godley said much was accomplished since he started learning all his teammates' names.

"We've come together as a family more than any team I've been on so far," Godley said. "It's been great. We've gelled together really well even with having all the new guys. I'm excited to see what we've got going."

So is UT coach Dave Serrano, who has done almost a total makeover with his second team of Vols. UT went 24-31 last spring, 8-22 in the SEC.

"It's probably the youngest team I've ever been part of, but I look at that as a wonderful challenge for us and a wonderful opportunity for us to take this program back to the level it should be," Serrano said. "It's not a sprint. It's a marathon. I'm in it for the long haul."

Serrano's 2012-13 recruiting class should have an immediate impact in the spring. After all, the class was rated No. 20 nationally by Baseball America.

While the freshmen might need game experience, that's not the case with Godley, who was an alternate on USA Baseball's Collegiate National Team in the summer.

Serrano said Godley returned to campus in great shape.

"I've had talks with (Godley) that he's going to have to be the horse of this pitching staff," Serrano said. "His mindset has to be he wants to go nine innings and he's going to have to wrestle me to come out of the game because I think he's going to be a tone setter for this pitching staff."

Godley embraces that role.

"I appreciate that he's got that confidence in me," Godley said, "and I have the confidence in myself that I can go out and do it."

When he takes the mound, Godley likely will be flanked by some freshmen in the field.

A.J. Simcox, a freshman from Farragut High School, made a strong push to be the starting shortstop during fall workouts, while Derek Lance, a freshman from Bearden, staked his claim for a spot at third base or center field.

Vance Vizcaino, a freshman from Wakefield, N.C., also will vie for the starting job at third base.

Serrano certainly won't overlook his returning players, including junior pitcher Nick Williams (Farragut), junior catcher Ethan Bennett (Farragut), and sophomore infielder/outfielder Will Maddox.

Maddox was chosen to the

All-SEC freshman team last year.

"We are very fond of this team," Serrano said. "The work ethic, for a young team, is off the chart. … The basis of how successful we can be is how strong the core of our team is and how we stick together as a team."

Notebook: Freshman pitcher/first baseman Andrew Lee (Morristown West) spent most of the fall hitting after having Tommy John surgery in June. … Sophomore infielder Parker Wormsley (Webb School) missed most of the fall with a broken hand. … Freshman pitcher Drake Owenby (Powell) was held out of the fall with a sore shoulder.

Dave Link is a freelance contributor.

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