Bearden’s Lance keeping his talents in Knoxville

August 15 was a day dreaded by most Bearden High School students. For Bearden senior Derek Lance, though, it was a day he had been looking forward to for a long time. While most Bulldogs were eating lunch after the first day of school, Lance was committing to play baseball at the University of Tennessee. “I’ll be getting to play for my dream school,” Lance said. “It’s a great opportunity to play in front of family and friends.” It did not take long for Lance to get used to the idea. “Wednesday, I started to realize it,” he said. “I’m going to be a Vol.” While becoming a Volunteer was a lifetime goal for Lance, the decision was, in a sense, only a stepping stone to his ultimate goal. “I want to play Major League Baseball,” Lance said. “I think (UT) Coach (Dave) Serrano and playing at UT will help me reach that goal.” Besides help towards the big leagues, Lance is expecting a lot from Serrano. “He’s a great coach, definitely UT’s best hire,” Lance said. “He is going to keep rebuilding the program until we are going to Omaha (and the College World Series).” While Lance expects a lot from Serrano, Bearden’s baseball coach Jack Tate thinks Lance is bringing a lot to him. “I know his versatility is one thing Coach Serrano likes,” Tate said. “He can play every position and he plays them well.” This fact is shown in where Lance will be playing as Vol. “[Serrano] said I’ll be a utility guy,” Lance said. A utility role usually consists of playing the middle infield positions and the corner outfield positions. It is a role usually given to someone who can hit and just needs somewhere to be on the field. According to Tate, Lance can do well in this offensively geared role. “He has speed on the base paths,” Tate said, “he can hit, and he has good baseball instinct. He is definitely a big time Division 1 player.” Even for Lance, though, going to a big time college program will have its challenges. “He’s going to have a lot of competition, but he’s a good enough player to be a starter in the SEC,” Tate said. Bearden baseball does not put starters in the SEC all too often. If this is what is in Lance’s future, it is a pretty special one. “I am absolutely thrilled for Derek,” Tate said. “I think it’s great to have one of our guys sign with an SEC school, especially UT. “It is a pretty special time for Bearden Baseball.”