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

Pitching for success

They say pitching wins championships. The Alabama baseball team better hope “they” are right. After losing much of its heralded lineup, the Crimson Tide will rely on a pitching staff that looks to be deeper and more experienced than last year.

Though the Tide lost talented pitcher Jimmy Nelson to the draft, they enter the year with a staff that appears to be deep enough to carry them through Southeastern Conference competition.

“Jimmy is a great guy, but he did what he needed to do,” starting pitcher Nathan Kilcrease said. “It would definitely help to have him back, but I think the guys we have coming back will be perfectly fine.”

The Tide has two returning starting pitchers back for this season in Adam Morgan and Kilcrease. The duo combined for a combined 15 wins last season with Kilcrease catching fire towards the end of the season, finishing with an 8-3 record and a 2.85 ERA.

“I just want to pick up were I left off last year,” Kilcrease said. “With Adam Morgan and everybody else on the staff coming back, I’m competing with them and just trying to get better.”

Last year, pitching was anything but consistent for the Tide. It was not until the end of the season when the Tide went on its torrid stretch of victories that the pitching started to click.

During that stretch, the Tide not only saw the success of both Nelson and Kilcrease, but also was encouraged by the performance of Morgan, who had previously struggled in the season. If Morgan can duplicate his success from the SEC tournament and postseason, the Tide looks to have two aces heading into next season.

“We are going to have to lean on the core guys we got early in the season,” head coach Mitch Gaspard said. “On the mound, having Morgan and Kilcrease, that is a really good one-two punch there.”

The Tide will also bring back pitchers Tucker Hawley, Brett Whitaker and Taylor Wolfe, among others, which should provide the Tide with a solid back of the rotation as well as a deep bullpen. A good rotation should prove more consistent results for the Tide, who seemed streaky last season.

Along with talent, the Tide staff has also brought back a working chemistry among players, something that might go a long way throughout the season.

“We returned a lot, so we had a solid group that really got a feel for each other,” Kilcrease said. “When the new guys came along, they fit right in with us so it is like one big happy family. Everybody on the team loves each other.”

Nothing might advantage the Tide more than a new NCAA rule, which thickens the walls of the aluminum bats, thus lessening the amount of power generated by contact. The new bats, which lack the same pop as the old bats, are changing the strategy among teams. Instead of relying on power from their lineup, more teams are moving towards pitching and timely hitting. Alabama will look to capitalize on the rule change, as they already seem to fit to play a more small-ball approach.

With the rule changes, Alabama appears to have an ideal club going into what is sure to be a different year in baseball. If the Tide can live up to its potential on the mound, fans could be watching Alabama baseball from Omaha, the sight of the College World Series, this season.

“I like our chances,” Kilcrease said. “We are hungry and very excited for the season to start.”

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