Vols ready to get baseball season underway

In less than four days a lot of questions will be answered about the 2010 Tennessee Volunteer Baseball team. Todd Raleigh enters his third year as head coach and is approaching this season far differently than his first two seasons in Knoxville. Go "Inside" to see who is schedule to start this weekend's series against Xavier.

In less than four days a lot of questions will be answered about the 2010 Tennessee Volunteer Baseball team.

Todd Raleigh enters his third year as head coach and is approaching this season far differently than his first two seasons in Knoxville.

A more relaxed, a more confident Raleigh will lead his troops into action Friday afternoon at a newly remodeled Lindsey Nelson Stadium when the Xavier Musketeers invade Knoxville for a three game series.

According to Raleigh, this season could be the year that Tennessee makes a push for several post season honors including the SEC Tourney and perhaps a NCAA post season berth.

"We are definitely a much better ball club, the best we have been since I have been here," Raleigh told InsideTennessee.com in a previous interview. "It's all about putting everything together. We have the talent, we just have to put all the phases of the game together. This could and should be a great year for us."

Pitching was the Achilles heal of last year's team. Something that Raleigh feels will be much improved this spring.

"We were actually better overall than we showed at times," Raleigh said. "We have to do a better job with consistency and getting timely outs. If our pitchers come out and perform like they are capable of, this could be a special ball club."

With a good mix of returning starters like the likes of leading hitter and 1st baseman Cody Hawn and catcher Blake Forsyth, Raleigh is also encourage by a lot of young talent. Including Vermont transfer Matt Duffy.

"We are very fortunate to have Matt in our program," Raleigh said. "He had a great season last year, Vermont did away with their program, allowing him to transfer and be eligible right away. He definitely helps increase the talent level on this squad."

Getting off to a great start in Friday's opener will be very important to a team that features the return of one of the most explosive offensive units from a year ago.

"Our hitting should be as strong or stronger than last year," leading hitter Cody Hawn said earlier. "We have the talent, we just have to come together as one and put all phases of our game together at once."

Defense wasn't an issue last spring either.

The Vols had one of the top defensive units in the conference and improved drastically throughout the season.

Raleigh feels that the end of the season success against Vanderbilt will give his Vols some added momentum this spring.

"Sweeping Vandy in the last series of the season last year showed how this team refused to quit," Raleigh said. "We have taken that success and hopefully will learn from it and focus on it into this season."

One of Raleigh's mottos in fall ball was "Earn it". Something that he has instilled in his team during the fall and now into the spring opener.

"Everyone has worked extremely hard in the fall and the beginning of this semester," Raleigh said. "Now it's time for that hard work to start paying off."

Red shirt junior left hand pitcher Bryan Morgado will get the Friday start for the Vols.

"I just want to go out and pitch with confidence and put my team in the position to pick up the win," Morgado said. "I feel good about this season, this is by far the best team we have had since I have been here."

The hard throwing lefty also realizes how important it is to get off to a good start.

"I know I can throw the ball well," Morgado said. "I just want to be consistent and have a great opener. I just need to throw strikes and everything else will take care of itself."

Saturday's starter is scheduled to be Steven Gruver and Sunday's starter is expected to be Stephen McCray this weekend.

Friday's opener will be a 4:00 p.m. start with Saturday and Sunday's scheduled for 2:00 p.m. starts.


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