KNOXVILLE – Tennessee’s baseball and softball teams have completed their fall workouts and competition and are transitioning into offseason workouts in advance of their respective seasons.
Here’s an update on two Chattanooga-area pitchers who factor greatly into both team’s prospects for 2020:
Slowing down with Sewell: Camden Sewell, the former standout pitcher at Cleveland High, is noticeably stouter thanks to his offseason strength training. But there was a side effect in the form of back discomfort, which resulted in a conditioning adjustment for the Vols’ sophomore left-hander.
“We have some answers for that and some solutions,” UT baseball coach Tony Vitello said. “I think we’re going to make some adjustments in the weight room.”
Vitello attributed the situation to the ongoing learning process with younger players.
“Getting to know these guys doesn’t mean just learning what jokes they laugh at and which ones they don’t,” he said. “It’s kind of knowing their bodies and how they handle different situations.
“(Sewell) certainly has bulked up a little bit but everybody’s not the same.”
Vitello said Sewell, who was 4-1 with a 2.18 earned run average in 20 appearances (five starts) last season, is in the hunt to Tennessee’s No. 1 starter next season. That’s saying something, considering teammate Garrett Crochet, who was 5-3 last season, drew a crowd of scouts to his appearances this fall and hit 100 mph on the radar gun with his pitches.
“Your No. 1 pitcher may not necessarily be your Friday guy,” Vitello said. “I know that sounds rare but it could happen that way.
“The bottom line is (Sewell’s) shown he’s made a jump. He’s one of our best guys … He’s going to need to stay healthy so he can be in that fight.”
Rogers works on repertoire: UT softball co-head coach Karen Weekly described Ashley Rogers fall practice as a sporting version of lab work.
“She’s looked really good at times and she’s struggled a little bit at times,” Weekly said of the former Meigs County standout. “But that’s to be expected in the fall.
“In the fall, you’re trying to work on things. You’re not necessarily going out there and looking for somebody to be in midseason form. So you’re wanting to expand your repertoire of pitches and really develop your game. But she looked better this fall than we’ve ever seen her. So we’re really excited about where she is.”
Rogers was 21-7 last season as a freshman with a 1.94 ERA. She made 30 starts and appeared in 39 games.
She will need to be in top form next season because the Lady Vols’ pitching depth behind her is uncertain. Senior Matty Moss has departed and fellow pitcher Caylan Arnold transferred to Florida State.
Rogers is the only returning pitcher who started a game last season.
* * *
Dan Fleser is a 1980 graduate of the University of Missouri who covered University of Tennessee athletics for the Knoxville News Sentinel from 1988-2019. He may be reached at email@example.com.