KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Butch Jones took in some softball Monday night at Lee Stadium, an appearance that was both supportive and “therapeutic.”
The game was rained before the start of the fourth inning, however, with No. 9-ranked Alabama (36-9, 10-7) threatening to end Tennessee’s nation-long 18-game win streak.
The No. 14-ranked Lady Vols (39-5, 11-3) were in trouble when the game was called, down 3-1 with freshman pitcher Caylan Arnold knocked out of the game.
But who knows?
The Tennessee pep band had also showed up and was playing between innings in the bleachers, and Ralph and Karen Weekly have moved to the top of the UT coaches’ totem pole by winning games like this.
Jones said they were among the first to reach out to him when he was hired at Tennessee in December of 2012, and he has made sure to listen and heed their advice.
“Right away, right from the start we built a relationship, and I have a tremendous amount of respect for Karen and Ralph and what they stand for as people, and then coaches,” Jones said. “We talk all the time. It was a neat environment tonight, and so we brought a bunch of players that were sitting in the outfield (bleachers). It’s all about that support. But we talk strategy and motivation.
“There are so many similarities when it comes to competing.”
Jones is entering the final week of spring football drills, the annual Orange and White Game set for Saturday.
But he said his presence at softball on Monday night — which included a stop in the SEC Network television booth — was important.
“You have to find time, because it’s all about support here,” Jones said. “It’s great for me to come out here and watch the competition. It’s very therapeutic to have this time and healthy to be here.
“But it all gets back to ‘One Tennessee,’ and helping each other, and Ralph and Karen have always been there for me.”
Tennessee athletic director John Currie was also on hand, along with former Lady Vols athletic director Joan Cronan.