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 ready to open against Alcorn State


Alabama baseball will be opening its season against Alcorn State in a three-game series Feb. 18-20 at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.

The Crimson Tide will not be as experienced as it has been in the past. The Tide lost all but four of its starters from the eventual elimination game in last year’s Super Regional against Clemson, including every infield position but pitcher.

The heavy losses are the main reason coaches predicted the Tide to finish fifth in the Southeastern Conference Western Division this season.

“With what we lost, I can see why we were put there,” head coach Mitch Gaspard said. “But no one has seen us practice or play. [The preseason ranking] is not what we’re concerned with right now.”

What Alabama has been concerned with is development, as a team and for every individual. That was the mentality throughout the off-season, and it will remain that way for the first few weeks of the season, according to Gaspard.

“At this point, there aren’t a lot of scouting reports,” junior infielder/outfielder Jon Kelton said. “It’s just about our preparation. At this point in the season, it’s about focusing on ourselves.”

Junior pitcher Adam Morgan echoed those thoughts.

“I don’t know too much about Alcorn State,” Morgan said. “But we know what we need to do. We need to get some consistency in our pitching staff, execute on defense and hit the baseball.”

This intense focus on personal development has turned into some very interesting starting position battles. The right-field battle between sophomore Brandt Hendricks and freshman Jeremiah Tullidge stands out, but the first base battle between freshmen Austen Smith and Patrick McGavin has turned heads as well.

“Any time you can create competition within the team, it’s a good thing,” Gaspard said. “It’s what you strive for.”

As the Tide gets closer and closer to finally making its season debut, there is curiosity among the coaching staff.

“We’re curious to see how some of [the] younger players play when the lights cut on for opening day,” Gaspard said.

That curiosity is spreading to the older teammates as well.

“As soon as the stands start filling up and the lights come on, it can go one of two ways,” Morgan said. “They can either elevate their game or not do as well. We just have to see what happens.”

For the team as a whole, Gaspard said he has a plan for the first few weeks of the season.

“I’ve always tried to play as many players as I can in the beginning of the season,” Gaspard said. “We’re looking forward to getting a lot of different guys out of the bullpen. We want to get position guys out there and get them some at-bats, too.”

Now that all the development work in the off-season is coming to a close and the plan for the early part of the season is set, the Opening Day jitters are starting to set in.

“We’re obviously excited about playing,” Gaspard said. “Opening Day always has a lot of energy.”

Look for Governor Robert Bentley to throw the first pitch on Friday to start off Alabama’s season against Alcorn State at 6 p.m. The Tide will play the Braves again Saturday at 2, then finish the series Sunday at 1.

More to Discover