Tennessee sophomore Chase Dollander is the SEC Pitcher of the Year, the SEC announced Monday afternoon.
Dollander was fantastic in his first season in Knoxville, posting an 8-0 record and 2.33 ERA in 11 starts and two relief appearances. However, it’s the right-handed pitcher’s success against conference opponents that earned him the respect of the SEC coaches that vote on the award.
The Georgia Southern transfer posted a 6-0 record, 1.67 ERA and a breathtaking .58 WHIP in 43 innings pitched. A upper 90s fastball and strong command of his off speed pitches make the sophomore extremely difficult to face as Dollander lives ahead in counts.
“I think he’s kind of one of our most improved players within the season. He just kind of had an interruption there,” Tennessee head coach Tony Vitello said following the Vols’ 25-run win over Mississippi State. “He’s a guy going into the postseason with which ever role we give him — he’s going to start a game for us at some point in Hoover and we’ll see what’s after that.”
Dollander faces adversity midway through the SEC slate when a Zane Denton come backer hit the right-handed pitcher in the right arm in the first inning of the Vols’ game two win over Alabama.
Tennessee avoided the worst as Dollander suffered a deep bone bruise and not a bone fracture. The sophomore missed just over two weeks from the injury and spent the next weekend in the bullpen before returning to the starting rotation against Georgia.
“It’s a marathon for these kids and they’re young, so a little time off can go a long way and this might actually end up benefiting him,” Vitello said during Dollander’s rehab.
Dollander’s success on the mound since returning from injury backs up Vitello’s theory. In four appearances since, Dollander has allowed just one earned run and six hits in 16.2 innings pitched (0.54 ERA) .
The Evans, Georgia native turned in his best start of the season last weekend against Mississippi State, allowing just one walk and no hits in six scoreless innings pitched.
Tennessee was well represented in the SEC postseason awards with Vitello earning coach of the year honors, Drew Beam earning freshman of the year honors and seven Vols landing on the All-SEC teams.