Dan Fleser: Meigs County's Ashley Rogers Is Salvation For Lady Vols
Monday, May 3, 2021 - by Dan Fleser
A few happenings in Tennessee athletics this weekend, along with some accompanying thoughts:
Tennessee softball won its fourth consecutive SEC series and scored its first sweep with a 2-1 victory at Auburn on Sunday.
After fouling off three straight pitches, Ivy Davis smacked a two-out, two-run double to drive in the Lady Vols’ runs in the fourth inning.
Ashley Rogers pitched six innings of scoreless, one-hit relief for her second victory of the weekend. She saved UT’s other win.
Thoughts: Where would the No.
16 Lady Vols (38-8, 11-7) be without Rogers? The former Meigs County High standout, who didn’t pitch last season because of injury, leads the SEC in victories (22) and strikeouts (233).
Tennessee co-head coach Karen Weekly’s comments after Rogers pitched two innings for a save on Saturday apply to virtually all of the right-hander’s efforts.
“We needed her to dig deep and do what she does,” Weekly said.
Along with Rogers, Davis also has been big. The transfer from Arizona leads the team in homers (13) and RBIs (38). At shortstop, she pulled off one of the top plays of the season on Saturday, leaping to snag a liner and then throwing to first base to double off a baserunner.
UT baseball: The Vols won a sixth SEC series in a season for the first time since 2005, beating Kentucky 11-2 on Saturday.
The fourth-ranked Vols (34-11, 14-7 SEC) scored seven runs in the sixth inning to break open the game. Jake Rucker’s grand slam highlighted the big inning.
Thoughts: The Vols’ home run total has reached 61. Six Vols have hit at least five so far this season. UT’s power seems to be the best deterrent to dips in scoring. By comparison, just three Vols regulars have batting averages above .300.
Jordan Beck raised his batting average to .262 after hitting .538 for the weekend. The Vols outfielder had seven hits (including one homer), drove in four runs and scored four. A more productive Beck could make a big difference.
“I think just constantly challenging himself to figure things out,” said UT coach Tony Vitello, regarding Beck’s breakthrough. “…If something’s important to you and you’re constantly looking to make adjustments, it’s going to work out for you in a positive fashion.”
Trey Smith: The former Tennessee offensive lineman took to Twitter on Saturday, after the first three rounds of the NFL Draft had passed without his name being called, and showed his frustration in writing, “Will never forget.”
Smith will remember Saturday after the Kansas City Chiefs chose him in the sixth round. In the same social media forum, former teammate Kahlil McKenzie Jr. tweeted, “enjoy a great city better people n the best bbq.”
Thoughts: What McKenzie said, just for different reasons.
Smith has an opportunity and that’s all the matters. He has a chance to show that not missing a game the past two seasons is more relevant than the blood clot concerns that cost him the final five games in 2018.
If he plays to his potential, he could find a role with a Super Bowl contender that needs offensive line help.
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Dan Fleser is a 1980 graduate of the University of Missouri, who covered University of Tennessee athletics from 1988-2019. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.