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Tennessee Pitcher Earns Freshman All-American Honors

Photo via Tennessee Athletics

Tennessee right-handed pitcher AJ Russell earned First Team Freshman All-American honors from the National College Baseball Writers Association earlier this week.

The talented underclassmen is one of just three SEC players on the first team, joining Georgia’s Charlie Condon and South Carolina’s Ethan Petry.

Russell is in the midst of a fantastic debut season in Knoxville. Due to Tennessee’s extreme pitching depth, Russell isn’t one of the Vols’ most used arms. However, he’s shined in nearly every opportunity he’s earned.

Entering the Men’s College World Series, Russell boasts a 2-0 record, 0.94 ERA and 0.56 WHIP in 28.2 innings pitched. The tall right-hander has struck out 46 batters while offering just seven walks. Opponents are hitting just .100 off of Russell this season.

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Russell’ path from unheralded recruit to dominant freshman for Tony Vitello and the Vols is a good one. Rocky Top Insider documented the story earlier this season.

The 6-foot-6 pitcher moved all around the country growing up but spent his final two prep seasons at Franklin High School in middle Tennessee. Russell has thrown just one inning so far in the NCAA Tournament but with Tennessee entering another four-team double elimination tournament, the Vols could call on him again.

Russell’s absurd numbers and fantastic stuff make him an obvious candidate to be a weekend starting pitcher in his second season in Knoxville. At the very least, Russell is poised for a sizable bullpen role for the Vols in his future.

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