Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Tide readies for Razorbacks

The Alabama baseball team will hit the road to Fayetteville, Ark., for a weekend series against Southeastern Conference foe Arkansas in the No. 16 Crimson Tide’s first conference road series of the season.

Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard seemed pleased at the opportunity to travel, commenting favorably on Fayetteville during a Thursday teleconference.

“Obviously looking forward to heading to Fayetteville,” Gaspard said. “It’s always a great place to play with great fans and our players enjoy making that trip.”

Gaspard knows the Tide isn’t heading up to the Ozarks for a picnic, however, and soon began focusing on a 15-5 Arkansas squad with one of the most prolific offenses in the conference.

“We’ve got an awful lot of respect for Arkansas,” Gaspard said. “We certainly know for us this weekend is going to be a great challenge.”

The Tide has blistered out to an impressive 16-3 start to the season, but after dropping two consecutive contests, the series finale against Vanderbilt and the Capital City Classic against in-state rival Auburn, Gaspard still sees room for improvement, especially at the plate, where Alabama, traditionally known as a longball team, has struggled to hit home runs, ranking last in the SEC with just 16 dingers.

“We are still finding our way offensively,” Gaspard said. “We have had some good nights and some nights where we are still trying to put it together.”

One Tide starter who has hit the ground running is center fielder Tyler Dugas. The sophomore is batting .484, including three triples, and has a .607 on-base percentage on the season.

“Taylor is certainly one of the top leadoff guys in the country,” Gaspard said. “He’s just off to a tremendous start. He is our spark plug and gets us going and sets the table.”

On the Razorback end, Arkansas is led by a powerful offensive group, headlined by sophomore infielder Zack Cox, who paces the Hogs with a .420 batting average, and junior Andy Wilkins’ seven home runs. Cox is an especially dangerous player capable of power and speed, and Gaspard had high praise for the Arkansas star.

“Cox is one of the best players in the country,” Gaspard said. “In this league, there are a select five to seven players that can turn a game around with one swing of the bat, and he is certainly one of those guys.”

The entire Razorbacks lineup is filled with power, as Arkansas has combined to hit 28 team home runs this season, good for third in the SEC, while ten players on the roster have knocked out a four-bagger.

“The one thing about Arkansas is they can be a really powerful lineup with some real physical players,” Gaspard said. “It’s a team with good balance throughout.”

The Tide begins the three-game series tonight at 6:30 p.m., with two more contests scheduled for Saturday and Sunday at 5:30 p.m.

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