Serrano says UT's pitching most improved
Dave Serrano on his starting pitchers
Coach Dave Serrano begins his third baseball season at Tennessee on Saturday. He thinks the Vols have enough offense to help some young pitchers gain traction.
Snow and poor weather on Wednesday forced UT to announce the three-day series at Lindsey Nelson Stadium involving Nebraska-Omaha and Purdue would start a day later.
Sophomore Andrew Lee is expected to throw the first pitch of the 2014 season. The sophomore, who was recovering from Tommy John surgery last year, gets the start against Purdue at 4 p.m. Saturday. Lee played in 25 games last year but did not pitch.
Freshman Hunter Martin faces Omaha at noon on Sunday.
Another freshman, Farragut High School graduate Kyle Serrano, starts the 4 p.m. Sunday game against Purdue. Senior Nick Williams gets the ball for Monday’s game against Omaha at 4.
“You’re going to see a slew of pitchers this weekend,’’ Dave Serrano said, “due to, obviously, pitch counts.
“Seventy-five to 80 pitches will be what our starters are worked up to. Hopefully, that will get them through to the fifth or sixth inning.’’
Drake Owenby is the designated closer.
“He has probably won a job as a starter,’’ Serrano said, “but the way I am building this staff is that it will be just as strong at the end as it is in the beginning.’’
Serrano believes an offense led by Scott Price (.361 in 2013) and Will Maddox (.333) will put up runs.
Price is the leading returning hitter in the SEC based on batting average.
“We have a lot of left-handed hitters,’’ Serrano said, “a lot of guys who can run the bases and guys who can hit the ball over the fence.
“They got their ears pinned back a little bit as freshmen. But I can no longer look across the field from our dugout and see a bunch of boys playing a bunch of men in the SEC.’’
Two strong signing classes have improved Tennessee’s depth considerably. Serrano said the Vols are at least two deep at every position.
“Scott Price,’’ said Serrano, “to me is probably the best hitter in the SEC, and I’ll say that bar none.
“Will (Maddox) is probably the hardest-nose player in the SEC. He’s going to be the dirtiest guy on the field.’’
A.J. Simcox and Christin Stewart headline a sophomore class that played extensively last season. Nick Senzel and Nathaniel Maggio, a slugging first baseman, could be the top hitters in the freshman class.
Omaha won the Summitt League last year and finished 27-22 overall.
Purdue won the 2012 Big Ten championship but was rebuilding in 2013 and finished 17-34.