Two cross country flights, five multi-hour bus trips and pit stops in six different cities — all in less than seven days.
That's what is on the recent history tab of Dave Serrano's No. 17 Tennessee Volunteers (15-1) as they head into their SEC opening series at Missouri, beginning tonight at 7 p.m. EST.
After road trips to Arizona State and Middle Tennessee State within the last week, UT exited Knoxville late Wednesday evening and rode by sleeper bus through the pitch black for more than 600 miles before arriving in Columbia, Mo., Thursday afternoon.
"Even though we have a journey of almost 12 hours on a sleeper bus," Serrano said on Tuesday, "it's a sleeper bus, and that's why we're doing it.
"It's a lot easier than stopping over in two airports and doing that travel time."
The Vols have hardly seemed fazed despite the hectic itinerary, winning 2-of-3 against the Sun Devils and grinding out a narrow 2-0 victory over the Blue Raiders on Tuesday.
That success, coupled with UT's 12-game winning streak to begin the year, has Serrano preaching consistency regardless of the notoriously-treacherous conference play that lies ahead.
"We open up Friday in the SEC, and I just hope our guys' personalities don't change," the third-year coach said. "It is the start of the SEC, but we've got to trust what we've done for the first 16 games. It's pretty good, and we've just got to keep doing that."
As has been the case the previous three Friday evenings, Nick Williams (3-1, 1.85 ERA) will get the nod in the opener against the Tigers. The senior righty is coming off his first loss of the season aginst ASU, in which he gave up seven hits and three in 6 1/3 innings.
The Vols, however, did make one pitching staff alteration as right-hander Kyle Serrano (2-0, 4.32) is not scheduled to start in Columbia — his first absence from the weekend rotation all season. Freshman Hunter Martin (2-0, 0.00) will go on Saturday with sophomore Andrew Lee (2-0, 3.98) slated for the series finale on Sunday.
Missouri's schedule began in peculiar fashion as it opened up with 10 straight games away from home. The Tigers stumbled out to a 4-6 record, but since returning to Taylor Stadium on March 7, Tim Jamieson's squad has reeled off 4-of-5, including series victories over Southern Mississippi and Alcorn State.
A big hand in the recent upswing has been Missouri starter Brett Graves, who's owns a 0.98 ERA and has allowed just three earned runs and four walks with a team-high 23 strikeouts in 27 2/3 innings pitched.
The junior righty will start Friday in what will be his second-career start against the Vols. Last season in Knoxville, Graves took a no-decision in a 7-6 UT win, giving up seven hits and two runs in five innings.