Tennessee heads to Arkansas this weekend, still holding out hope to make the SEC tournament in Hoover, Ala. If they make it, you can bet the Vols only senior pitcher, Zack Godley, will have something to do with it.
The big right-hander has emerged as a workhorse ace, sitting near the top of the SEC leader board in innings pitched and strikeouts. However, during his early days at Tennessee he wasn't exactly polished.
"He wanted to overthrow everything, he wanted to grunt on every pitch," said head coach Dave Serrano.
"He was just kind of this crazy dude from Bamberg, South Carolina," added catcher and fishing buddy Ethan Bennett. "Just threw it as hard as he could, didn't really care where it went."
Serrano helped transform Godley from a thrower into a pitcher. He introduced Godley to the change-up that is now a key piece in his arsenal and taught him to trust his defense to make plays behind him.
"Now if you look at his numbers, he's a strikethrower," Serrano said.
"His strikeouts to walks are fabulous and he has an idea where the ball is going with three or four pitches most of the time."
"My command has gotten unbelievably better over the past few years," Godley said. "I owe it to the coaching staff. Coach Serrano and them, they've done wonders with me, they've helped me so much and I'm glad I've gotten this opportunity."
Godley accomplished one of his main goals when he threw a complete game shutout against Missouri.
"At the time I wasn't tired, I had so much adrenaline going," Godley said.
"I was so excited to get to keep going that I really didn't get tired until after I finally got done, got showered and got settled down then it finally hit me how worn out my body was. It was exciting, I'm glad coach let me do it."
Godley tossed another shutout against Kentucky, earning SEC Pitcher of the Week honors for the second time in his career. The only other Vols to do that- Luke Hochevar, R.A. Dickey and James Adkins- were all drafted in the first round of the MLB draft.
"I'm just very proud of what he's been able to accomplish and how hard he's worked on a daily basis to be where he's at today," Serrano said. "And I think he'll get rewarded in early June when his name is called, I think in a fairly early round."