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When will AJ Russell return for Tennessee baseball? Tony Vitello updates pitcher’s status

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When will AJ Russell return for Tennessee baseball? Tony Vitello updates pitcher’s status


AJ Russell threw a bullpen Tuesday as the Tennessee baseball pitcher works back from injuries that have sidelined for nearly two months.

Vols coach Tony Vitello said the bullpen went well and the next step is to see how Russell feels Wednesday.

“In an ideal world, it is time to start strategizing when would he throw in a game for us,” Vitello said after No. 1 Tennessee run-ruled Belmont 10-0 at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

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Russell has not pitched since March 23 against Ole Miss. He departed in the ninth inning with tightness in his forearm, the second time this season the sophomore pitcher departed with an injury issue. The sophomore has a 5.11 ERA in four appearances. He has 19 strikeouts in 12⅓ innings. He has allowed seven runs on 10 hits and eight walks.

Tennessee (43-10, 19-8 SEC) hosts South Carolina in the final regular-series starting Thursday (6:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network+).

When could AJ Russell return for Tennessee baseball?

The 6-foot-6 Russell has thrown off a mound a couple times recently. The next step is for Russell to throw to live hitters, if he feels good after the most recent bullpen session. That would be the final stamp of approval in Vitello’s eyes in order to get Russell back in the fold.

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“Our guys want him back,” Vitello said. “I’d like to see him out there. So it is kind of where does it all meet? We are kind of to that point now where it’s time to decide what is the best way for him to get back out there.”

Russell left his second start of the season with side soreness, missed multiple weeks and returned for two outings before forearm tightness put him on the self again.

Vitello said Russell has had to stop, at times, in his work to return and had to “even kind of backpedal.” Tennessee’s staff has pitched well enough to allow Russell to take his time, Vitello noted.

“The one thing I can tell you with 100% conviction, everyone has to heart his future,” Vitello said. “The microscope of it or the shorter term of it is next year, where he will be the leader of a staff and be a huge part of it on the mound. Also we all know what he has shown, he can play for a long time.”

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What is AJ Russell’s injury for Tennessee baseball?

Russell left his second start of the season against Albany on Feb. 23 with side soreness. He did not return until March 17 against Alabama, then was injured against a week later against Ole Miss.

Russell took over Tennessee’s Friday night starter spot as a sophomore. He struck out 10 in 4⅓ innings on Feb. 16 against Texas Tech, including getting the first eight outs of the game via strikeout. He allowed two runs on three hits and a walk.

OPS: The wild dash to get Billy Amick his No. 11 jersey for Tennessee baseball vs Vanderbilt

The Franklin, Tennessee, native struck out four in three innings against Albany before leaving the game. He allowed three hits and walked one.

Russell started against Alabama in his return, striking out two and allowing one run on two hits in two innings. He struggled against Ole Miss in his last outing before departing with arm issues. He walked six, allowed two hits and surrendered four runs. He struck out three in three innings.

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Russell was 2-0 with a 0.89 ERA in 30⅓ innings with 47 strikeouts as a freshman. He made 24 appearances with one start.

Mike Wilson covers University of Tennessee athletics. Email him at michael.wilson@knoxnews.com and follow him on Twitter @ByMikeWilson. If you enjoy Mike’s coverage, consider a digital subscription that will allow you access to all of it.





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Why does Lady Vols softball wear blue uniforms? Explaining story behind ‘Summitt Blue’ jersey

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Why does Lady Vols softball wear blue uniforms? Explaining story behind ‘Summitt Blue’ jersey


Tune into a playoff game for the first time and you will come across some unique, and maybe outlandish, uniforms that teams wear. It’s even the strategy some use to make their bracket come March Madness.

Tennessee softball is one of them.

The No. 3 seed Lady Vols (43-10 overall, 19-5) are playing for their ninth berth to the Women’s College World Series this weekend in the Knoxville Super Regional against SEC-foe No. 14 seed Alabama, starting on Friday, May 24 at 4 p.m. ET.

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REQUIRED READING: Why it’s special for Tennessee softball seniors to lead Lady Vols back to NCAA super regional

Though the Lady Vols wear “traditional” Tennessee color uniforms, white and “Smokey Grey” they also have an alternate uniform that stands out on TV: “Summitt Blue.”

And so, as the Lady Vols look to pick up two more wins to return to the WCWS for the second straight year, curiosity has risen on the origin story of their “Summitt Blue” uniforms and why the Lady Vols wear them. Here’s what you need to know:

Why does Lady Vols softball wear blue uniforms?

To the average fan who does not pay close attention to Lady Vols games, blue may not look right in the color scheme for Tennessee — considering the Vols logo is orange and the men’s basketball and football programs alternate between white, orange and “Smokey Grey” uniforms — and that is a fair assessment, but there is some history to it.

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And it is a two-fold answer.

The “blue accent color”, as it was called by Tennessee’s website, first debuted with the Lady Vols women’s basketball team in 1968 due to uniform manufacturing companies not offering orange uniforms. In response to this, Tennessee’s women’s athletic director emeritus Joan Cronan decided on the Lady Vols home uniforms to be Columbia blue with orange lettering and piping on them. That is how the “blue accent” was born.

But in 2022, as part of the NCAA celebrating the 50th anniversary of Title IX, Tennessee renamed its “blue accent color” to “Summitt Blue” in honor of legendary Lady Vols and women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt. Summitt, of course, was a pioneer for women’s sports across her 38-year career coaching on Rocky Top, which featured eight national championships and a 1,098-208 career coaching record.

That season, Tennessee unveiled “Summitt Blue” uniforms for women’s basketball, women’s soccer, softball and volleyball.

“Tennessee’s history as a worldwide leader in women’s athletics, along with the Lady Vols’ unique legacy of excellence are traditions we are proud to celebrate,” Tennessee vice chancellor and director of athletics Danny White said in a 2022 press release. “As some of our teams recently saw their new Summitt Blue uniforms for the first time, they reacted with a joy and enthusiasm that I hope will extend to our fans and proud alumni.”

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Tennessee softball team first debuted its “Summitt Blue” uniforms down Puerto Vallarta, Mexico last season for the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge. Since then, the uniform has stayed in the rotation as the Lady Vols also wear their traditional white uniform with orange lettering and piping down the side and “Smokey Grey” uniform with orange lettering and piping down the side during weekend series.



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Tennessee driving courses aiming to prevent dangerous drivers

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Tennessee driving courses aiming to prevent dangerous drivers


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -The “100 Deadliest Days of Summer” begins following Memorial Day. This period goes until Labor Day and marks a time when teenage drivers are more at risk on the road.

“It can get really dangerous. You’ve been in school, you’re ready to get out and have some fun, and you have to realize your focus has to be on the driving,” Drive-Rite owner Craig Smith said.

The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security released data regarding crash statistics in Tennessee. The study showed trends and numbers of crashes, including crashes involving drivers aged 15-19.

The study found that in 2023, Knox County had 20,300 licensed drivers aged 15-19; of that number, 1,749 were involved in car accidents.

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Craig Smith has been a driving instructor for 36 years; he says distracted driving plays a significant role in teenage car accidents.

“Your hands off the wheel, your eyes are on the screen, and your mind is thinking about what song am I trying to find,” Smith said. “That’s three distractions at the same time.”

According to the study, since 2019, the number of licensed drivers aged 15-19 has gone up in Knox County, but the total number of accidents in that group has gone down. Smith says the types of new drivers getting their licenses are learning how to be safer on the road.

“The best safety device ever designed; if you ask that question, people will say airbags, seatbelts. The best safety device is somebody that knows what to do and does it,” Smith said.

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Tennessee Football Returns to Neyland Stadium in 100 Days | Rocky Top Insider

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Tennessee Football Returns to Neyland Stadium in 100 Days | Rocky Top Insider


Tennessee Football. Photo by Ric Butler/Rocky Top Insider.

The countdown is officially on.

There are 100 days left on the calendar until Tennessee’s season opener as of Thursday.

While the summer doesn’t present too many storylines heading into the fall, the big note to look for during July is SEC Media Days. The addition of Texas and Oklahoma into the Southeastern Conference only adds to the magnitude of the upcoming season, with perhaps no better fitting place for the event than Dallas, TX.

Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel is set for Day 2 of the event on July 16 alongside Georgia’s Kirby Smart, Missouri’s Eliah Drinkwitz, and Oklahoma’s Brent Venables.

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Training camp will begin in August on the other side of SEC Media Days as Tennessee gets ready for the season ahead. The Vols have been commonly tagged as a Top 20 preseason team on the fringe of the Top 15 with quarterback Nico Iamaleava as a darkhorse Heisman contender. Tennessee also boasts EDGE rusher James Pearce Jr., who could solidify his spot as the No. 1 overall draft pick in the 2025 NFL Draft with a strong showing.

Tennessee opens up the 2024 season in a home contest against Chattanooga on August 31. The Vols will quickly hit the road, though, with a likely Top 25 non-conference game under the lights in Charlotte, NC, against NC State in week two. Tennessee then returns home for a non-conference game against Kent State before taking off for unfamiliar territory in their first SEC game against Oklahoma in Norman, OK.

After an open date closes the final weekend of September for Tennessee, the Vols head out to Arkansas for a second-straight road SEC game to open the conference slate before returning to Knoxville for a pair of high-profile rivalry games. Tennessee will host Florida and Alabama in back-to-back weeks in October before another open date closes down the month.

With five weekends in the month of November, Tennessee will face their longest stretch of games to close the season with back-to-back home games against Kentucky and Mississippi State before traveling to Athens, GA, for a matchup with Georgia on Nov. 16. Tennessee then returns home for the home-finale against UTEP before the season-finale against Vanderbilt in Nashville.

More from RTI: Nation’s Top 2025 Tackle David Sanders Jr. Schedules Visit to Tennessee

Here’s a look at the key dates you need to know with 100 days between now and the start of the Vols’ 2024 season:

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July

SEC Media Days (Dallas, TX)

  • July 15: Brian Kelly, Lane Kiffin, Shane Beamer, Clark Lea
  • July 16: Kirby Smart, Eliah Drinkwitz, Brent Venables, Josh Heupel
  • July 17: Kalen DeBoer, Billy Napier, Jeff Lebby, Steve Sarkisian
  • July 18: Sam Pittman, Hugh Freeze, Mark Stoops, Mike Elko

 

August

  • TBA: Start of Tennessee Football fall camp
  • Aug. 31: Chattanooga at Tennessee (Knoxville)

 

September

  • Sep. 7: Tennessee vs NC State (Charlotte, NC)
  • Sep. 14: Kent State at Tennessee (Knoxville)
  • Sep. 21: Tennessee at Oklahoma (Norman, OK)
  • Sep. 28: OPEN

 

October

  • Oct. 5: Tennessee at Arkansas (Fayetteville, AR)
  • Oct. 12: Florida at Tennessee (Knoxville)
  • Oct. 19: Alabama at Tennessee (Knoxville)
  • Oct. 26: OPEN

 

November

  • Nov. 2: Kentucky at Tennessee (Knoxville)
  • Nov. 9: Mississippi State at Tennessee (Knoxville)
  • Nov. 16: Tennessee at Georgia (Athens, GA)
  • Nov. 23: UTEP at Tennessee (Knoxville)
  • Nov. 30: Tennessee at Vanderbilt (Nashville, TN)

 

December

  • Dec. 7: SEC Championship (Atlanta, GA)
  • Dec. 20-21: CFP First Round
  • Dec. 31: Fiesta Bowl (Quarterfinals)

 

January

  • Jan. 1: Peach Bowl (Quarterfinals)
  • Jan. 1: Sugar Bowl (Quarterfinals)
  • Jan. 1: Rose Bowl (Quarterfinals)
  • Jan. 9: Orange Bowl (Semifinals)
  • Jan. 10: Cotton Bowl (Semifinals)
  • Jan. 20: National Championship (Atlanta, GA)

 





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