After playing their last five games on the road, the Diamond Vols will return to Lindsey Nelson Stadium this weekend, hosting a three-game series against Ole Miss.
The Vols had a very promising road trip, sporting a 4-1 record over the last two weeks, with wins over non-conference opponents ETSU and Virginia Tech. The Vols also took two out of three from then No. 13 Kentucky last weekend in Lexington, which was only the team's second SEC series win of the season so far.
And despite the success on the road, the team is glad to be home.
"It's been a long couple weeks," said freshman pitcher Aaron Quillen. "We went to Kentucky for a weekend, then ETSU and Greeneville. Both of those are kind of in my hometown so I'm used to it, but it is good to be back here."
Quillen will be on the mound for the "Vols on Friday" night. The freshman right-hander is sporting a 1-1 record on the season in nine starts and has compiled a 5.40 ERA thus far. His last start came last Friday in Lexington where he allowed five hits and no runs in four innings, but earned a no-decision in Tennessee's 4-5 loss to Kentucky.
The Tennessee offense has been facilitating the team's success as of late, averaging over five runs per game in its last five games. The Vols have been scoring a lot of runs early in the game and using aggressive base-running to put the pressure on their opponents.
"First of all, that's Coach (Greg) Bergeron. He loves to push the pedal to the metal," said head coach Dave Serrano. "And I think what it does is it kind of allows this younger group to get comfortable. They see that we're being aggressive and not being passive, and I think that allows them to settle in."
Quillen and the rest of the pitching staff appreciate the early runs and the confidence it gives them through the later innings.
"Our offense has been executing really well," Quillen said. "Hit by pitches and walks are really big for our offense. If we can get them on, get them over and somebody drive them in that's really huge. We've been doing that well the last five games."
The Vols pitching staff have been able to keep the opponents off the scoreboard for the most part when it's mattered. Freshman left-hander Andy Cox has been a boost for the staff of late. His 2.1 innings Tuesday night in Greeneville was key in Tennessee's 5-4 win over Virginia Tech, as he allowed no runs and no hits to finish out the game.
Game one is set for Friday at 6 p.m.