PULLMAN, Wash. (NCBWA) – After leading the Volunteers
to the NCAA College World Series, Tennessee head coach Tony
Vitello has been named the 2021 National Collegiate
Baseball Writers Association Mike Martin National Coach of the Year.
Vitello led his Tennessee club to Omaha for the first time since
2005, while reaching the 50-win mark for the first time since 1995.
The Volunteers earned a No. 3 national seed, hosted an NCAA
Regional for the first time since 2005 and swept their regional
with a 9-8 win over Wright State in the opener before capping
the perfect weekend with a pair of wins over Liberty, 9-3 and
3-1, to earn a spot in the Super Regionals for the first time
since 2005. Tennessee stayed hot with a Super Regional sweep
over No. 14 LSU, taking the opener 4-2 before erupting for a
15-6 clinching win behind a program-best NCAA Super Regional
single-game record for runs and an NCAA Tournament mark for home
runs (6) to earn its fifth trip to the College World Series.
"When I heard about it," Martin said with a smile, "I was
simply flabbergasted. It is such an honor to have my name
associated with this award, and it is a tribute to all the
players and coaches who worked with me at Florida State."
"It is very fitting that Tony Vitello won the inaugural NCBWA
Coach of the Year Award named in honor of Hall of Fame member Mike
Martin," said NCBWA executive director Bo Carter. "Coach Vitello
put together possibly the best season in Tennessee baseball history
and is very deserving of this top honor. He follows a long list
of illustrious NCBWA Coaches of the Year."
Vitello, in his fourth season in Knoxville, has guided the Volunteers
to a 50-16 record including a 20-10 mark in SEC play this year.
Tennessee won eight of its 10 conference series and made an impressive
run in the SEC Tournament with wins over No. 3 Mississippi State,
Alabama and No. 13 Florida before falling to top-ranked Arkansas
in the championship game.
Under Vitello this season, three Volunteers have earned All-America
honors, five have received ABCA All-Region honors and three have
earned All-SEC accolades. Starting pitcher Chad Dallas was named
to the NCBWA All-America Third Team, reliever Sean Hunley earned
All-America second-team honors from Baseball America and third baseman
Jake Rucker was named to the All-America Third Team by Baseball
America and Collegiate Baseball.
About the Mike Martin National Coach of the Year Award
The National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Coach of
the Year Award, introduced in 2008, is voted on by the NCBWA Board
of Directors, and chosen from a list that includes all Division
I conference coaches of the year and the coaches of the eight NCAA
College World Series teams.
In 2020, the NCBWA board of directors voted unanimously to name
the annual award after Mike Martin, the winningest head coach in
NCAA Division I baseball history after he retired at Florida State
in 2019 with a 2,029-736-4 mark over 40 seasons in leading the FSU
program from 1980-2019.
"When I heard about it," he said with a smile, "I was simply
flabbergasted. It is such an honor to have my name associated with
this award, and it is a tribute to all the players and coaches who
worked with me at Florida State." "We could not think of any other
coach historically to associate a name for this annual award besides
coach Mike Martin," said NCBWA executive director Bo Carter. "He
has meant so much to college baseball as it has continued year-by-year
to gain additional national popularity."
NCBWA membership includes writers, broadcasters and publicists.
Designed to promote and publicize college baseball, it is the sport's
only college media-related organization, founded in 1962.
For more information on the NCBWA and its award programs, contact
NCBWA Assistant Executive Director Mike Montoro of West Virginia
University at 304-293-2821.
All-time NCBWA Coaches of