Following another tournament on the road, the Volunteers' baseball team returns to Knoxville for a weekend series against Alcorn State.
The Vols (4-7) dropped two of three while competing in the USA Baseball Tournament in Cary, N.C., but continue to show signs of being close to breaking through.
"It's what the coaches refer to as mentality plays," infielder Scott Price said. "There are times, say, early in the game where we have a runner on third and less than two outs and we don't score him. Well, that one run early in the game didn't seem like a big deal but later in the game that's a run that we needed."
The Vols dropped a tough game to No. 22 Notre Dame in 12 innings, 3-2. They followed that test with a win against the University of Massachusetts, 6-4, in the two schools' first meeting. Tennessee bookended the weekend with a 7-3 loss to No. 25 Virginia Tech.
"I thought we played some good baseball this past weekend," head coach Dave Serrano said. "Again, it's just our guys not playing the entire time and we had some slip-ups that cost us in the end."
One bright spot for the Tennessee baseball team over the past week was the play of sophomore third baseman Will Maddox. Maddox hit a sizzling .556 with a .778 slugging percentage and five RBIs over the last week.
"Will has been really good for us at the top of our lineup. We just need to get some other guys to start getting timely hits behind him," Serrano said.
Even though Maddox is just a sophomore, older players look up to the third baseman due to his work ethic and hard play.
"I'm a junior, and he (Maddox) is older than me, but I find myself looking up to him," Price said. "He's one of the hardest working players I have ever seen."
The Volunteers will have to opportunity to get back on track and build confidence against a struggling Alcorn State team.
"Baseball is a game of confidence," Serrano said. "We need some of our younger guys to get warmed up at the plate and start playing with some more confidence."
The Braves enter the weekend with a 2-12 record.
"It doesn't matter if the opponent enters unscathed or is not very good, that isn't the point," Serrano noted. "They are on our schedule and we have to go out and be better than than them this week and continue to get better as a team."
Senior Zach Godley will take the mound Friday for the Volunteers and will look to continue a season that has started well for him, though his record might not show it.
"I feel like my pitches have been working pretty well," Godley said. "I haven't gotten the results I've wanted in terms of wins, but we're playing well."
Tennessee and Alcorn State will meet at 6 p.m. on Friday and will have noon starts on both Saturday and Sunday.