League champions rack up SEC postseason honors

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BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – The 2022 Southeastern Conference playoff honors were announced Monday afternoon and Tennessee was well represented with five of the league’s best players named to all-conference teams and three Vols earning major awards. .

A total of six UT players have accrued nine total selections to All-SEC First and Second Teams, as well as SEC All-Freshman Team and SEC All-Defensive Team.

The five Vols winners on All-SEC teams scored the second-most in a single season in program history, just one behind the 1994 team, which had six.

Three Flights have won major awards, led by the head coach Tony Vitello, who was named SEC Coach of the Year for the first time after leading the Big Orange to the best regular season in program history. Tennessee went 49-7 while leading the nation in wins and posting the best RPI in the nation. UT earned its first-ever No. 1 ranking in any poll and ended up spending seven weeks as the nation’s unanimous No. 1 team. The Volunteers broke program records in single-season home runs, ERA (not including the shortened 2020 season), and attendance while winning the conference for the fourth time in program history. UT won the conference by a record six games and won the East Division by 10 games, also a league record.

Vitello is only the third coach in program history to win SEC Coach of the Year honors, joining SW Anderson (1951) and Rod Delmonico, who won back-to-back in 1994 and 1995.

Chase Dollander was acclaimed SEC Pitcher of the Year after a stellar first season on Rocky Top. The Georgia native is only the second player in program history to earn the honor, joining former big leaguer Luke Hochevar, who won the award in 2005.

Dollander was named SEC Pitcher of the Week twice and led the conference in ERA (2.30), opponent’s batting average (.158), fewest hits allowed (35) and fewest walks allowed (nine). The sophomore right-hander also finished tied for second in the SEC with eight wins, posting a perfect 8-0 regular season record. His 90 strikeouts also led the team and tied for second in the league despite missing two weeks of action due to injury.

Although the Vols had several worthy candidates, the pitcher Drew Beam earned SEC Freshman of the Year honors after an impressive first year at Tennessee. The Murfreesboro, Tenn., native holds the second-lowest WHIP in the nation (.84) and has held opponents to a .184 batting average, the second-best rating in the SEC. Beam went 8-1 and burst onto the scene throwing a full two-hit game on the road at then-No. 3 Vanderbilt on April 3, earning him numerous national pitching honors from the week.

The freshman right-hander won SEC Freshman of the Week honors twice and was also named SEC Pitcher of the Week on April 4. Beam is the second player — and first pitcher — in program history to earn SEC Freshman of the Year honors, joining former big leaguer JP Arencibia (2005).

This year marks the first time in program history that the Vols have had the SEC Coach of the Year, SEC Pitcher of the Year and SEC Rookie of the Year in the same season, adding yet another another achievement to the list of impressive records and accolades.

Along with major postseason awards, Tennessee also had five players who achieved All-SEC recognition and three players named to the SEC All-Freshman team. Dollander, Trey Lip Comb and Drew Gilbert were all named All-SEC first-team selections while Beam and fellow first-year pitcher Drive away the burns were elected to the second team by the league coaches. Beam, Burns and Blake Burk all also earned spots on the SEC All-Freshman team.

Lipscomb, who was among the favorites to win the SEC Player of the Year, was the first-team selection at third base after a breakout senior season. The Frederick, Maryland native shattered his career highs in all offensive categories while leading the conference with 74 RBI and 158 total goals. He also tied for the SEC lead with 21 home runs and ranked among the league leaders in runs scored (t-2n/a – 61), slugging percentage (2n/a – .749) and hits (t-7and – 74). Lipscomb was named SEC Co-Player of the Week on Feb. 28 and earned multiple National Player/Hitter of the Week honors after becoming the fourth player in program history to hit for the cycle, doing so during of a victory over Iona on February 25.

Gilbert earned All-SEC playoff recognition for the first time in his UT career after another great season for the Big Orange. As a Tennessee cleanup hitter, Gilbert finished the regular season with a team-leading and SEC-leading .385 batting average, and ranked second on the team with 57 RBI. , which was also tied for fourth in the conference. The Stillwater, Minnesota native led the team with 17 doubles and four triples (both career highs) and hit eight homers. He also drew a career-high 31 walks and led the team in .485 on-base percentage, a mark that ranked third in the SEC. Gilbert was the only Vol named to the SEC All-Defensive Team, posting a .989 field percentage while recording three assists from center field.

Burns backed up his high recruiting rankings with a stellar freshman campaign, serving as Tennessee’s Friday night starter for most of the season. The Gallatin, Tennessee native posted a 7-1 record and 2.53 ERA in 14 appearances, 13 of which were weekend starts. His ERA ranked second in the SEC behind Dollander and just ahead of Beam while his 88 strikeouts ranked second on the team and fourth in the league. Burns was named SEC Freshman of the Week on March 28 and was also named to the Golden Spikes Award Midseason Watch List.

Burke topped UT’s roster to earn SEC postseason accolades, earning a spot on the SEC All-Freshman team after batting .366 and hitting 10 home runs in just 71 at-bats. The talented freshman had 26 points, scored 23 times and would have led the team with 1.375 OPS, .859 hitting percentage and .516 on-base percentage if he had the required minimum number of stick attacks.

The full list of SEC postseason awards and all-conference teams can be viewed HERE.

 

2022 SEC Postseason Honors – Tennessee

Coach of the Year: Tony Vitello
Launcher of the year: Chase Dollander
First year of the year: Drew Beam

First fully SEC team:

Trey Lip Comb – 3B

Drew Gilbert – OF

Chase Dollander – SP

All-SEC Second Team:

Drew Beam – SP

Drive away the burns – SP

SEC All-Defensive Team:

Drew Gilbert – OF

SEC freshman team:

Drew Beam – SP

Drive away the burns – SP

Blake Burk – DH/1B

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