It’s gut-check time for the Tennessee Volunteers. Heading into a ranked SEC weekend series against rival Kentucky, Vols head coach Tony Vitello explained why it’s so important for his team to stay focused during one of the hardest points of the season.
“I think it’s the game that is in front of you. This team has its own theme. This season has written part of its story to this point,” Vitello said on Thursday. “All you have to do is look at the wackiness that took place here Tuesday in the midweek game for a reference point of what is the next thing in front of you.
“Our guys will [practice] shortly and it will be a lighter practice with finals and a Friday series awaiting us. Three long days. What is the thing in front of you? We probably had the best coach in the country talking about being where your feet are in Pat Summitt. So, I would listen to her before I listen to me if I were one of our players.”
Even better for the Vols, they’re hosting the Wildcats for this weekend’s three-game series. All season long Tennessee has been stellar inside Lindsey Nelson Stadium. The Vols sit 33-16 on the season but are 30-4 on their home field.
Amid finals and the looming postseason, it’s Tennessee students’ last chance to cheer on their Vols before leaving campus for the summer. After the weekend series against UK, next Tuesday’s (May 16) game against Belmont is the final time fans will be able to make their way to the ballpark to catch some of Vitello’s Vols play ball. They’ll round out their regular season on the road at South Carolina the following weekend.
“Our crowds have just increasingly gotten better and more intense as the season has gone on. So, they’ve helped us right the ship or gain momentum as the season has been going,” Vitello said. “I would expect the final weekend to be a little bit rowdy. As they say in Dazed and Confused, school is out for the summer.”
The first pitch in Knoxville is set for 6:30 p.m. ET live on SECN+. Tennessee will start RHP Andrew Lindsey (0-2, 3.11) on the mound Friday, while the Wildcats turn to Travis Smith (4-1, 3.62) for their pitching efforts. The two teams will pick the series back up at Noon ET on Saturday for game two and 1 p.m. ET for the series finale on Sunday.
The post Tony Vitello emphasizes defending home field against Kentucky appeared first on On3.