GREENEVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) – Tennessee sophomore outfielder Drew Gilbert and freshman pitcher Blade Tidwell each shined for the Volunteer baseball program this past season.
Gilbert was ranked in the top five on the Volunteers in batting average, hits, doubles, triples, homeruns and RBI’s. Gilbert also earned NCAA Knoxville Regional Most Outstanding Player honors after helping lead the Vols to their first Super Regional since 2005.
Tidwell earned freshman All-American honors after earning a 10-3 record with a 3.74 ERA, while chalking up 90 strikeouts. His 18 starts were a team-high, while the 10 victories were tied for the second most by a freshman in program history.
The success from these two led the pair earning spots on the US College National Team. Both these Vols knows what this honor means.
“To be able to do it this year is pretty special and I think every player in the country wants to be here and the fact that I’m one of the 48 that is here is pretty special to me,” Tidwell said.
“It’s pretty cool, I think it’s what every college baseball player strives to get to. You get to play with some of the best players in the country and you have some of the best coaches in the country,” Gilbert said.
The coaching staff features five-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner Troy Tulowitzki and long-time manager Jerry Weinstein. Leading the charge for the squad is NC State’s skipper Elliot Avent and he’s pretty impressed with the two Volunteers.
“He just plays with a lot of energy, he plays with high energy, good base running, can steal some bases, but what a great kid and a great player and it’s a lot of fun being around him,” Avent said about Gilbert.
Avent wasn’t shy about describing what Tidwell brings to the table.
“He’s got a great arm. He started as a freshman on the weekend in the SEC for Tennessee with the program they built there, so that tells you everything you need to know about him.”
These two Volunteers aren’t just going to sit back and enjoy the summer either. These guys want to make the most out of their opportunities.
“I’ve been picking the minds of some of the best pitchers in the country. We’ve been just like learning from each other so we can take that next step, so we can get to the next level for next season,” Tidwell said.
“You have so many people here with so much more knowledge than I’ll ever have with the game of baseball that I’d be dumb not to pick their brains,” Gilbert said.