Kansas shortstop Maui Ahuna committed to Tennessee Friday morning while on a visit to Knoxville.
— Maui Ahuna (@MauiAhuna) June 10, 2022
Ahuna is one of the top players in the transfer portal after a fantastic two seasons at Kansas. The 6-foot-1 shortstop hit .396 with eight home runs and 48 RBI as a sophomore, landing on the All-Big 12 First Team.
Posting an impressive .396/.479/.634 slash line, Ahuna brings strong contact and power hitting to a Tennessee lineup projected to lose a bulk of its production. The middle infielder added 13 stolen bases in his second season.
The Hilo, Hawaii native entered the transfer portal after Kansas coach Rich Price retired following the 2022 season.
More From RTI: Vols, Fighting Irish Collid With Omaha Berth On Line
Tennessee has been active in the transfer portal since its become a popular route in the college baseball landscape. The Vols added Missouri pitcher Seth Halvorsen and Georgia Southern pitcher Chase Dollander last season and while an arm injury has sidelined Halvorsen, Dollander has shined.
Dollander is the SEC Pitcher of the Year and a First Team All-American, posting a 9-0 record and 2.38 ERA this season.
“I think one thing that sometimes people like, and it stems from Frank (Anderson) is that we are incredibly black and white,” Tennessee head coach Tony Vitello said of his sales pitch to transfers. “We get our recruits around our players so can hear it straight from their mouths and I think one thing you will hear from our players – just like our coaches like working around each other – they enjoy being. That’s not why everyone leaves their current situation, because they weren’t enjoying it, but that’s a box that I think needs to be checked.
“We’ve got, I wouldn’t call it a transition team, but it’s a group of people that helps make it smooth for those that are looking to do that. An X-factor, to be honest with you with that topic, because it’s getting crazy right now with the portal – I think people see the numbers – our guys want to win. I think when we’re going after a guy like Dollander, there isn’t anyone that is disgruntled in that or has other thoughts or feelings, they like competition. They know competition will make them better as an individual and if they want to win, then they know anyone that can help us win does just that.”
While Tennessee is facing an abundance of lineup turnover this forthcoming offseason, shortstop won’t necessarily be vacant. Cortland Lawson will be selected in this July’s MLB Draft, but whether or not it’s high enough to entice him to forgo his final season in Knoxville is to be determined.
However, the Vols will definitely lose starting third baseman Trey Lipscomb and will likely lose second baseman Jorel Ortega. Tennessee will have a number of starting infield spots open and Ahuna’s prowess ensures he’ll be a day one starter. His strong defensive abilities make it likely that it’ll be at shortstop regardless of Lawson.
Tennessee will continue to be active in the transfer portal. The Vols are actively pursuing North Carolina State star Tommy White and are on the hunt for a transfer catcher too.
The Vols open their Knoxville Super Regional series against Notre Dame at 6 p.m. ET Friday night. ESPN2 is broadcasting the game.