This Week in UT Sports History is a weekly column written by RTI contributor Lexie Little
While the current news cycle buzzes with recruiting news, many fans and teams take time to remember past players and coaches who built up programs. History plays an important role in encouraging prospects to commit and in evaluating incoming players’ potential against their predecessors. The past serves as a basis for the future, and “This Week in UT Sports History” remains no different.
June 11, 1958
Wednesday, June 11, 1958, Dwight D. Eisenhower resided in the White House and the El Dorado Tornado had just ripped through a Kansas town, killing 13 people and destroying more than 200 homes. In Knoxville, no precipitation interrupted an 88-degree day, though something did change the atmosphere in Tennessee. The Tennessee basketball atmosphere, that is.
Holly Warlick celebrates her 61st birthday this week, marking a notable day in UT sports history. The Knoxville native played high school basketball at Bearden High School, earning the “Most Athletic” school superlative her senior year. She earned All-State honors as a point guard and raced to the title of 400-meter track state champion twice.
When the time came to commence a collegiate career, she opted to stay at home, sweet home where she donned the Lady Vol uniform from 1976-1980 and earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing. As a player, she earned All-American status three times and was named to the U.S. Olympic Team in 1980. The athletic department retired her number 22 jersey in 1980, the first time UT athletics ever retired a jersey at the end of a player’s career.
Following stints at Virginia Tech, where she earned her master’s degree in athletic administration, and the University of Nebraska, Warlick returned to Rocky Top where she spent 20 seasons as an assistant coach, seven seasons as an associate head coach, and seven seasons as head coach. She assumed the role of head coach on April 18, 2012 as legendary coach Pat Summitt stepped down following an early onset Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis. Warlick’s former coach presented her with her coaching whistle at her inaugural press conference.
Warlick’s career record as head coach stands at 172-67 all-time, earning regular-season conference titles in 2013 and 2015. Her Lady Vols won the SEC Tournament title in 2014. Her tenure at Tennessee ended March 27, 2019 following the program’s worst season in the NCAA Tournament era in which the Lady Vols finished 19-13 overall and with a losing record in conference play.
June 11, 2005
Swatting away yellow jackets endures as a pastime for many Tennesseans who stay outdoors in the summer. In 2005, the No. 9 Baseball Vols (46-19) batted away Yellow Jackets from the south, beating No. 5 Georgia Tech (45-19) by ten runs, 13-3, in the NCAA Atlanta Super Regional. The win allowed Tennessee to advance to the College World Series against a seemingly even opponent.
The Vols failed to record a hit in the first and second innings, but luck changed in the third when the team batted through the order, scoring six runs on seven hits. Second baseman Michael Rivera drove in four runs in the game, three off his first home run of the season.
“Honestly, no one believed in us but ourselves,” Rivera said following the win. “We knew we had a good team. Many people doubted the fact that we were going to hit due to our low numbers from the previous season. It just came together for us.”
Future major leaguer Chase Headley scored three runs of his own and echoed his teammate’s sentiments.
“It’s no surprise to us,” Headley said. “We felt like we have a good club from the beginning of the year and we knew what we were capable of. We go out there to win every single game, and when we don’t win, we’re disappointed. I’m not really surprised, especially the way our pitchers have been throwing.”
The day proved dismal for Georgia Tech despite playing in front of a home crowd of more than 3,800 people. The Yellow Jackets failed to record a hit through four innings, and officials ejected backup first baseman Whit Robbins in the sixth inning. Without offensive momentum, Tech’s season ended.
“Certainly we’re disappointed in the outcome today, but give Tennessee a lot of credit,” Georgia Tech head coach Danny Hall said. “We didn’t have any answers for [James] Adkins. He pitched very well.”
Tennessee lost the first elimination game of the 2005 NCAA College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska, eight days later, falling to Arizona State, 4-2.
June 16, 1951
The 2005 Vols may have been eliminated early in their College World Series run, but the 1951 squad withstood early tests to advance to the final game. Tennessee defeated both Utah and Southern California in close doubleheader match-ups on June 16, 1951, to earn a spot in the final game against Oklahoma in the program’s first NCAA College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska.
At the time, no preliminary rounds existed. The NCAA chose eight teams, including Tennessee, for the postseason. The Vols edged past Utah, 5-4, and Southern California, 9-8, in Games 12 and 13 to face Oklahoma in the final matchup. Oklahoma athletics shined as the gold standard of college athletics at the time with national titles in football and wrestling already won during the 1950-51 academic year. The Sooners defeated UT in the final game one day later, 3-2, to take home a third national title for the university.
Though the Vols lost to Oklahoma, their wins and prowess impressed many. Tennessee first baseman and pitcher Sidney Hatfield earned the title of Most Outstanding Player for his efforts. He posted the third shutout in College World Series history in a 2-0 win against Springfield in the third round.
Hatfield studied education at the University of Tennessee and taught at Rule High School in Knoxville following a stint in the minor leagues. He later served as the head baseball coach at Tennessee Tech in Cookeville, TN, and as UT’s golf coach from 1968-1976. His UT golf teams earned a 500-253-3 overall record during his tenure, finishing second in the Southeastern Conference in 1968. Hatfield died Jan. 25, 2003 at age 73.