College : : Story
Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Tennessee toughness

Kendall Rogers        
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Dave Serrano isn’t yet interested in looking at the big picture when it comes to his Tennessee baseball program.

As a matter of fact, he really isn’t even all jazzed about talking Omaha at this juncture with a team and program that hasn’t even reached the SEC tournament since 2005.

Serrano made his opinion on the matter clear from the start. Soon after taking the job with the Volunteers, he walked through the UT clubhouse, noticing a sign above the doorway that said “Omaha, 921 miles”. Knowing the program’s recent struggles, Serrano thought that sign simply was sending a false message.

This program, he thought, needed to focus on making the conference tournament. Worry about Omaha when they prove something. So in thinking that, the area that once displayed the Omaha sign now has a subtle banner that says “Win the next pitch.”

Judging by the Volunteers’ level of play the first two and a half weeks of the 2012 season, it’s evident the players have bought into the new philosophy of focusing on pitch-by-pitch, not worrying about what might happen in the future.

In the past four seasons, there’s no doubt the Vols would’ve struggled against programs such as Northern Illinois and Seton Hall, even at home. But this year has been different, as the Vols went a combined 6-0 against those teams, their lone loss coming in a hard-fought midweek bout against Middle Tennessee State.

“I really think the players are enjoying themselves and having some fun,” Serrano said. “They’re having fun competing out there. They realize we don’t expect them to be the best team now or in May, but we’re emphasizing being the best team on a certain day. In baseball, that’s all you can really ask for.”


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