By: Anthony Sigismond The reigning Southern Conference regular season and tournament champions were selected as the favorite to win it again in 2016 by the league’s head coaches.
In addition to the preseason recognition, the Mocs had four players named to the Preseason All-SoCon teams. Senior Cricket Blanco, Maryville, Tenn., was tabbed Preseason First-Team All-SoCon, and sophomore Cori Jennings, Brush Creek, Tenn., along with seniors Alyssa Taylor, Orange, Calif., and Sam Taylor, Ringgold, Ga., were selected Preseason Second-Team All-SoCon.
However, even after being awarded with such high honors, the Mocs do not expect any of their competition to lie down for them.
“We’re all really excited because we got picked preseason favorites,” said Blanco, who’s the team second baseman. “We’re trying not to let that get into our heads, so we just keep working hard and do not assume that everything will be given to us.”
Although they are at the top of the totem pole to start the season, players feel their hard work and commitment makes them deserving of the No. 1 ranking and they welcome the added pressure that comes along with it.
“I think it puts a target on our back,” said Jennings, who was named to the All-SoCon Freshman team last year. “We’re all working really hard and I think we deserve to be picked first. Everyone comes in, does the extra stuff and everyone does everything they can during practice.”
The five seniors on this year’s roster want to end this chapter of their careers on a high note and realize what this team is capable of. But to make that happen, contributions from everyone on the team will be needed. Even the freshmen, who are expected to make big contributions early on.
So as far as the individual accolades, each member understands that anyone on their team could have been named to the Preseason All-SoCon teams.
“I’m flattered,” said Taylor, who has been the team’s center fielder and leadoff hitter the past three seasons. “I put in the work and I’m going to keep doing it for my team, but I don’t want to take all the glory because we are all in here working and that could be any of us in there because we all work just as hard.”
UTC is off to a hot start after teeing off their season over the weekend. The Mocs won all five games in the NTC Tournament and outscored their opponents 24-10 in that span. The team put forth a group effort and the results paid dividends as they are off to a 5-0 start.
While they made their tenth appearance to the NCAA tournament last season, the Mocs hope they can go places that no other teams in the school’s history has been able to.
“Obviously we want to win conference again,” said Jennings. “Personally I would like us to go farther than we’ve ever gone and take this program to another level.”
*Photo by Gomocs.com