Spence, Rucker & Tidwell Earn SEC Postseason Honors; Vitello not named SEC Coach of the Year

UT Baseball / Credit: UT Athletics

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The Tennessee trio of Liam SpenceJake Rucker and Blade Tidwell earned SEC postseason honors, as announced by the league office on Monday afternoon.

Spence (shortstop) and Rucker (third base) both garnered All-SEC first team recognition, marking the first time since 2005 that the Vols had multiple players earn first-team honors.

Spence was one of the top hitters in the SEC all year long, leading the league in on-base percentage (.493) and walks (32) in conference-only games. He also batted .342 in league play and was tied for third in runs scored with 29. Spence reached base in all but two conference games and tied for third in the SEC with 13 multi-hit games in league play.

The Geelong, Australia, native was also named to the SEC All-Defensive team at shortstop after ranking second on the team with 93 assists and posting a .971 fielding percentage after committing just four errors in 140 chances.

Rucker was a consistent threat in the middle of Tennessee’s lineup for the entire season, leading the SEC with 16 doubles while finishing tied for third with a team and career-high 76 hits. Of those 76 hits, 41 came during conference play, which was tied for sixth in the SEC. The Greenbrier, Tennessee, native also finished second on the team with a .342 batting average and 50 RBI, 27 of which came during conference play, good for eighth in the league.

Rucker was named the SEC Co-Player of the Week on April 26 after a monster series at Texas A&M, tying a career high with three hits in all three games while also hitting four doubles and a home run against the Aggies.

Tidwell became the first UT player to be named to the Freshman All-SEC team since Andre Lipcius in 2017 after an impressive debut season in the Orange and White. The hard-throwing right hander posted a 7-3 record and had the best ERA (3.74) among Tennessee’s starting pitchers. Tidwell’s seven victories and 77.0 innings pitched both ranked first among freshman pitchers in the league. His seven wins are also tied for the fourth most by a freshman in program history while his 72 strikeouts are the fifth most in a single season by a Vols’ freshman.

The Loretto, Tennessee, native was named the SEC Freshman of the Week on March 22 after a dominant performance in his SEC debut at Georgia, allowing just one run on four hits while striking out six in 7.1 innings pitched to lead the Vols to a series win in Athens.

To see all of the postseason award winners and complete All-SEC teams, click HERE.

-UT Athletics