KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Tennessee head baseball coach Tony Vitello sat down with WATE to discuss his team’s historic 2021 season, preparations for the 2022 and his journey from an infielder to a Coach of the Year winner.

Tony Vitello is entering his 5th season as the head coach of the Tennessee baseball team. The Vols are coming off one of the best seasons in program history, finishing with a 50-18 record and advancing to the College World Series in Omaha for the first time since 2005.

Vitello signed a contract extension in the offseason but has barely had time to reflect back on the success of last years team.

“For me it’s just random moments, a late night drive on a recruiting trip or walking to the office and look out at the field and it kind of came in still pictures in my mind,” said Vitello. “For whatever reason it was a stressful year but a great year and that combination will lead me to enjoying it more and more and reflecting on it as years come by.”

With great success, comes great expectations, many believe the 2022 version of the Vols is more talented than last year’s team.

“There’s a little more depth this year. The older guys certainly respect the younger guys more than I’ve ever seen an incoming class be respected because of their talent.”

Tony Vitello on what to expect from Tennessee in 2022

“Last year was such a popular team, finding our own identity has been important. There’s a little more depth this year,” said Vitello. “The older guys certainly respect the younger guys more than I’ve ever seen an incoming class be respected because of their talent.”

The Tennessee fan base fell in love with the Tennessee baseball team during last years run to Omaha, that love was reciprocated from Vitello, the coaching staff and the players. Vols fans packed Lindsey Nelson Stadium during the regionals and super regionals giving the stadium an unmatched atmosphere.

“They mean wins and losses,” said Vitello. “The easiest way to win as a coach is to have great recruits. So many kids saw that on TV and some of them came in person, and they want to be a part of it.”