Sports Spectrum Magazine Summer 2021

Tennessee's Jake Rucker places trust in God as team attempts to avoid elimination

Tennessee entered the 2021 College World Series ranked No. 3 and currently boasts a 50-17 record on the season. Part of the reason for Tennessee’s success has been the play by Jake Rucker.

The Volunteers will need him even more as they try to stay alive in the tournament and avoid elimination on Tuesday vs. No. 2 Texas.

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Rucker currently holds a .331 batting average in 66 games played, all of which he started. He leads the Volunteers in hits with 89, recording 21 doubles and nine home runs.

As one of the top batters on the team, Rucker played an integral role in Tennessee’s victories over LSU in the Knoxville Super Regional. In the first game, Rucker recorded two doubles as well as a run as the Volunteers beat the Tigers, 4-2, on June 12.

In the second game, Tennessee ensured that a third game between the teams would not be necessary, as it thrashed the Tigers, 15-6. Rucker provided two home runs in the game, as well as a single and a total of three RBIs. Tennessee’s victories against LSU allowed the team to advance to the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska.

Rucker credits faith as one of the reasons for his success and actively integrates it into his play.

“One of my superstitions is reading the Bible before every game,” Rucker told Knox News. “That calms me and keeps me focused. The Lord is with me every step of the way in my life. That is something that helps me stay cool, calm and collected.”

Rucker has been outspoken about his faith since before he began his college career. In a 2017 Twitter post in which Rucker committed to Tennessee, Rucker gave “All the Glory to God.”

Rucker’s Twitter and Instagram bios also read, “God holds my future,” and his Instagram bio references Ephesians 2:8, which says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”

Rucker often uses social media as an instrument for sharing his faith, from posting verses such as Psalm 118:24 to crediting God with providing Tennessee with a path to the College World Series.

Tennessee started its College World Series with a 6-0 loss to No. 8 Virginia on Sunday. This was only the third time the Volunteers had been held scoreless this season, and they managed just six hits in the game compared to the Cavaliers’ 13.

First pitch for Tuesday’s elimination game is set for 2 p.m. ET.

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