Alabama baseball makes first super-regional appearance in 13 years


Jennifer Stroud

Alabama baseball team celebrates their win over Troy University on June 3 at Sewell-Thomas Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Michael DeVito, Contributing Writer

The hot Alabama Crimson Tide enter Winston Salem, North Carolina, for a super-regional matchup — Alabama’s first appearance in 13 years.  

The Crimson Tide entered as the No. 16 team nationally, being the lowest-seeded team to host. Alabama’s opponents, the Wake Forest Demon Deacons have been the No. 1 team in the country since the beginning of the season and were locked in as regional and super-regional hosts for a majority of the season.  

Wake Forest Demon Deacons (50-10) — Atlantic Coast Conference 

The Demon Deacons come into the super regional arguably the best team in college baseball. They made quick and easy work of their regional, sweeping it with a combined score of 48-6. Falling in the ACC tournament semifinals to Miami, Wake Forest exited Charlotte early as once again the favorites to win and the No. 1-seeded team in the NCAA tournament. In his 14 years at the helm of the program, head coach Tom Walter is the second-winningest coach in Wake Forest history, with 366 victories.  

The Demon Deacons got to where they are with dominant MLB-level pitching and an explosive offense. Sophomore Nick Kurtz leads the offense with a .384 batting average, 23 home runs and a slugging percentage of .843 well above league average. On the hill, right-hander Rhett Lowder is putting together one of the best seasons in college baseball history.  

With a record of 14-0 and an ERA of 1.77, the ace of the Demon Deacon staff is a lock for the future first round of the MLB draft. Wake Forest can run out a plethora of talented arms complemented by a red-hot offense that suppressed the Big 10’s best, Maryland.  

“Obviously, I’m just super proud of this club and what we’ve accomplished to date. We all know we have more work to do, but we’re going to celebrate and enjoy this one for the next 24-36 hours and then get back to work on Tuesday,” Walter said. “Everything that’s been building, starting with last year, with the leadership group we have.” 

Alabama Crimson Tide (43-19) — Southeastern Conference 

Alabama heads to Winston Salem after sweeping the Tuscaloosa regional and blowing out the ACC’s Boston College 8-0 in the regional final to set up a date with the Demon Deacons.  

At Alabama’s last super regional in 2010, the Crimson Tide fell in three games to the Clemson Tigers in Clemson, South Carolina, after taking game one of the three-game series. After falling out of the SEC tournament just before the semifinals at the hands of the Vanderbilt Commodores, the Crimson Tide made easy work of its regional like the Demon Deacons, going undefeated in Tuscaloosa on its journey to the supers.  

Interim head coach Jason Jackson brings his squad to Winston Salem with an impressive record of 13-4. A turnaround and change in culture dawned upon the Crimson Tide baseball program upon the dismissal of former head coach Brad Bohannon due to his involvement in a betting scandal during the LSU series.  

A pitching core of capable MLB talent such as Luke Holman, Garrett McMillan and Jacob McNairy anchor the Crimson Tide rotation. Talented offensive players such as Tommy Seidl, Andrew Pinckney and Colby Shelton drive the Crimson Tide offense to where it is today.  

“We kind of all got a lot closer in the last month and we all just know that it’s us against the world,” catcher Mac Guscette said.  

The No. 16 Crimson Tide and No. 1 Demon Deacons enter the super regional after sweeping their regionals and are sitting just two wins away from a college world series berth. Aces will be throwing their best baseball, and hitters will be ready to pounce on any opportunity. The best-of-three series is set to begin Saturday, June 10, at 11 a.m. CT.