Vols open baseball season against Xavier

The smell of popcorn popping and hot dogs cooking can only mean one thing. Baseball season has arrived. Now let's hope Mother Nature gets the email that the Tennessee Volunteers opens its baseball season Friday afternoon against the defending Atlantic 10 Conference champion Xavier here in Knoxville at 4 p.m. at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. Go "Inside" for a look at today's game.

The smell of popcorn popping and hot dogs cooking can only mean one thing.

Baseball season has arrived.

Now let's hope Mother Nature gets the email that the Tennessee Volunteers opens its baseball season Friday afternoon against the defending Atlantic 10 Conference champion Xavier here in Knoxville at 4 p.m. at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

Tennessee Baseball Coach Todd Raleigh enters his third season as the Vols head coach and he stressed at this weeks press conference how important it was for his team to get off to a good start, beginning this weekend against the Musketeers.

"It's very important that we get off to a good start," Raleigh admitted. "This is by far the best team I have had since I have been here. We have all the pieces to the puzzle to be successful, now we just have to put everything together as a team."

Confidence and a new attitude has been three words that have been used a lot by this current team and coaching staff describing this year's ball club.

Red shirt junior left handed pitcher Bryan Morgado will be the Friday night starter this season, a role that he is embracing and looking forward to.

"I expect us to play hard and win a lot more games than we have won in the past," Morgado told InsideTennessee.com. "We have a solid lineup. We have a solid rotation of starting pitchers and a great bullpen."

Having confidence in one's bull pen, his set up guys and his closer is always very important. Coach Raleigh agrees.

"Our pitching staff is much improved since last season," Raleigh admitted. "We still have to come out and pitch and do the things we know how to do. We have a lot of confidence in our bullpen, the set up guys and especially our closer Matt Ramsey."

According to Raleigh, Ramsey, a sophomore pitcher from Knoxville is the perfect and easy answer for the closer role.

"He is physically built for the role," Raleigh said. "His biggest strength is his mentality he brings to the game. He loves and thrives on the pressure. When the game is on the line, he wants the ball in his hands and the responsibility of shutting down the opposition to pick up the win."

Ramsey quickly admits that he is extremely excited about his role as the closer this season.

"Knowing that I'm the guy is extremely important to me and the team," Ramsey said. "It's very exciting. It's what I love to do. I love going into the game for one inning and giving it everything I got."

The three game series with Xavier doesn't appear to be a push over for the Volunteers season opener.

"Xavier has a really good ball club," Raleigh admitted. "They are coming off a season where they won a season high 39 games, and went to the NCAA Tournament first round in Houston. They have a lot of seniors on this ballclub and they won't be intimidated about playing a SEC school."

Boydsworld.com has ranked Tennessee's schedule the No. 16th toughest schedule in the country. The Vols have the third hardest schedule in the SEC only behind Georgia at No. 8 and Arkansas at No. 15.

Friday's game is scheduled at Lindsey Nelson Stadium at 4:00 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday's games are scheduled for 2:00 p.m. starts. Saturday's starting pitcher will be left hander Steven Gruver and Sunday starter is slated to be right hand pitcher Stephen McCray.

Stay tuned to InsideTennessee.com for the most in depth coverage of your Tennessee Volunteer Baseball team, including stories, notebooks, video and photo galleries.


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