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Tennessee Baseball’s Maui Ahuna Receives Eligibility For 2023 Season

Tennessee shortstop Maui Ahuna. Photo By Emma Corona/Tennessee Athletics

The NCAA ruled Tennessee shortstop Maui Ahuna eligible for the 2023 season Monday afternoon, a source with knowledge of the situation told RTI.  The decision comes just 11 days after the NCAA informed Tennessee head coach Tony Vitello that Ahuna would be ineligible to start the season.

“We are also thrilled that Maui Ahuna’s eligibility has been reinstated, and he is available to join Tennessee’s active roster effective immediately,” Tennessee said in a statement later Monday afternoon.

Ahuna shared his excitement in a Tweet Monday afternoon.

Tennessee was waiting to clear one compliance issue before Ahuna was able to gain his eligibility. Ahuna missed the first five games of the season and is now eligible to make his return to the field for this week against Charleston Southern.

“Like a champ,” Vitello said of how Ahuna was handling things Tuesday. “Like a dang champ. He has been really good about getting extra work in (the cages) and on the field because he knows he is not going to be burning a bunch of calories out there. He has been (Austen Jaslove’s) No. 1 fan. Next to him in warmups, if you guys are here in time, you see what he is doing there. Then he is just a fun-loving kid in general.”

Vitello served a three-game suspension against Dayton for Tennessee making improper contact with the star shortstop during his recruitment. The head coach is expected to return with Ahuna this week against Charleston Southern though Tennessee said it would make an official statement sometime Monday.

Ahuna announced his intentions to transfer to Tennessee in June after entering the portal following Kansas’ coach Ritch Price’s retirement.

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The elite defensive shortstop was a First Team All-Big 12 selection a season ago, hitting .396 with eight homers and 48 RBIs last season as one of the Big 12s best bats. The two-way star had 28 extra-base hits and is poised to be near the top of Tennessee’s batting order this season.

With Ahuna sidelined, Austen Jaslove started the first eight games for Tennessee this season. The redshirt sophomore is five-of-23 (.217) at the plate this season, with six RBIs and two walks.

Ahuna’s eligibility is a massive win for the 2023 Tennessee baseball team and helps bolster a lineup that’s breaking in eight new starters. The Vols’ offense is a work in product this season and Ahuna’s bat will provide a big boost.

Tennessee returns to the field Tuesday night in a two-game series against Charleston Southern at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

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