Tennessee catcher Evan Russell is available for the Vols’ Saturday night matchup against Campbell, Knoxville News Sentinel’s Mike Wilson first reported and sources confirmed to RockyTopInsider Saturday morning.
Russell — who started behind the plate in all 30 SEC games this season — missed the the Knoxville Regional opener Friday night due to sickness.
“We’ll give it some time to figure out what’s going on because I have to get with Dr. (Chris) Klenck, but obviously Evan Russell was not here,” Vitello said. “He was sick this morning. I got a message from him. I’m going to always defer to those folks so don’t think I’m a bad guy if a guy sprains an ankle and I’m not out on the field. I don’t know what to do I’d just get in (trainer Jeff) Woody’s way and same thing with doc.
“It opened up an opportunity for (redshirt sophomore catcher) Charlie (Taylor) and also our guys to kind of rally around one another because clearly that’s a big piece there.”
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Taylor performed well behind the plate against Alabama State while laying down a successful sacrifice squeeze bunt. Lindsey Nelson Stadium got behind the redshirt-sophomore catcher, giving him a round of applause before every plate appearance and a standing ovation following the RBI bunt.
“If you come to practice, I think Charlie has everyone on our roster beat in terms of how he shows up and plays ball,” Vitello added. “It’s why he’s a fan favorite in the locker room. I don’t think it affect him much, but what our fans do in certain situations, and in particular being behind our guy, does things to my soul that I wish I could explain to you all that I can’t.”
Rusell is tied with Vol legend Todd Helton atop the all-time Tennessee home run list and is one long ball ahead of teammate Luc Lipcius.
The left fielder turned catcher is hitting .299 with 13 home runs and 43 RBI in his super senior season. While he is available, there’s been no indication whether he will start against Campbell.
The SEC Network will broadcast Tennessee’s matchup with Campbell. First pitch is at 7 p.m. ET.