Photo via Tennessee Athletics
Tennessee baseball standout Zane Denton is returning to Knoxville for his super senior season, he announced on Instagram Saturday night.
“Let’s try this thing one more time. #year2,” Denton wrote as his caption.
From the moment Denton transferred to Tennessee the expectation was for the third baseman to play one season in Knoxville before starting his professional career.
That remained the expectation even after Denton went undrafted in the 2023 MLB Draft. But as July turned to August, Denton hadn’t signed a professional deal and eventually decided to return for one final season at Tennessee.
Denton started 65 games at third base for Tennessee last season and provided some of the biggest swings of the Vols’ season. The Brentwood, Tennessee native particularly shined in the Vols’ path to the College World Series.
With Tennessee down to its last strike against Clemson in the regional, Denton put the Vols ahead 6-5 with a go-ahead three-run homer. Tennessee clung to a one-run lead midway through game three of the Hattiesburg Super Regional before Denton sent a three-run blast deep into the Mississippi night to give the Vols the breathing room they coveted.
The switch hitter hit .269 with 16 home runs, 25 extra-base hits and a team-high 59 runs batted in.
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Denton’s return adds even more depth to an infield that was already going to have plenty of competition this fall. The Vols now return both of their corner infielders from a season ago and added Clemson star Billy Amick in the transfer portal.
Amick played first base and DH’d as a sophomore at Clemson last season. He has the ability to play third base, where he was poised to start before Denton’s return, but is also capable of playing second base.
While Denton has spent the entirety of his college career playing third base, he is also capable of playing second base.
The big question for Tennessee’s infield, and team as a whole, is who starts at shortstop. Maui Ahuna is off to professional baseball and his backups Jake Kendro and Austen Jaslove each entered the transfer portal this offseason. Freshmen Dean Curley and Blake Grimmer are poised to be in the competition amongst others.
Tennessee does return starting second baseman Christian Moore who will get opportunities to play shortstop in the fall and can also play left field and potentially other outfield spot. Moore moving to shortstop or the outfield opens a window for both Denton and Amick to start without serving exclusively as the designated hitter.