In temperatures hard-pressed to stay above freezing, only a handful of outdoor activities are generally accepted.

Baseball would certainly be absent on most lists.

But after even icier weather left the Tennessee baseball team cooped up in various indoor facilities for days one and two of official practice, complaints were nonexistent as the Diamond Vols made their 2014 Lindsey Nelson Stadium debut Sunday afternoon.

"It actually warmed up to about 40 (degrees) today," said a smiling Scott Price before the team's 11-inning intersquad scrimmage. "I think everybody's in short sleeves, The leggings have come off. I think it'll feel good to get back out on the field officially for the first time this spring."

Despite three consecutive losing seasons, each one producing less than 10 conference victories, this type of positive demeanor has been a mainstay for the Diamond Vols in recent weeks as head coach Dave Serrano has consistently labeled his 2014 squad the kind of remodeled product he envisioned upon arriving in Knoxville.

"I've been to the postseason, and (my staff and I) know the road how to get there," said Serrano, who's visited the NCAA Super Regionals four times including two College World Series appearances. "We're trying to pave it for our players right now, so they know how to get there. I've been doing this business for a long time, and I know when I see good ability.

"The building process is over. Now it's time to start getting the results that we should be having in this program."

Arms Aplenty

For UT – as would be the case for any team trying to reach the postseason for the first time in seven seasons – depth within the team's pitching staff is a top priority, and UT believes they have just that in 2014.

"I feel like this pitching staff, we're a lot more mature this year," said senior Nick Williams, who threw 61 innings last season and represents the team's most-used returning pitcher.

"We've got a lot more quality arms. We're filling the zone up a lot more in practice. We're all competing."

While this year's staff boasts the arrival of five junior college transfers, the program's most heralded addition is that of Serrano's own son, Kyle, who opted to don the orange and white despite being drafted by the Colorado Rockies.

The former Farragut Admiral, who was named the conference's top preseason freshman by the baseball scouting service Perfect Game earlier this month, hardly disappointed in his official practice debut, tossing four innings of no-hit ball.

"Kyle's like anyone else on our pitching staff, just unfortunately for him, he's my son," Dave Serrano said jokingly. "I've been proud with his progress,"

Strenuous SEC slate

Similar to the conference's overly-dominant football product, the SEC is no slouch on the diamond either as the Vols will face a treacherous road inside league play; one that yet again boasts a bevy of nationally ranked teams.

According to Collegiate Baseball's Fabulous 40 NCAA Division I Preseason poll, the SEC features eight ranked teams, six of which will match up against UT this season.

"The SEC is always gonna be strong," junior infielder Will Maddox said. "There are different teams each year that are very good."

But while the stiff competition inside the conference is to be expected, it's the reduced discrepancies in talent level that has Serrano anxious to go.

"I'll be able to look across the diamond now no matter what venue we're at — here or on the road in the SEC — and not feel like we're outmanned," Serrano said. "I think we can match player by player now with some of the best teams in the SEC with the talent we have in our own dugout."