Preview | Baseball dives into NCAA Tournament

Nick Robbins, Contributing Writer

The NCAA unveiled its baseball tournament bracket on May 31, and Alabama (31-24) saw its name for the first time since 2014. 

Alabama was one of nine SEC programs to qualify for the tournament. 

This year marks the Crimson Tide’s 24th appearance in the NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament in program history. Alabama will play in the Ruston Regional hosted by No. 16 Louisiana Tech University beginning Friday, June 4.

The Crimson Tide will face Louisiana Tech, Rider University and North Carolina State University in the Ruston Regional. 

Alabama was one of the last four teams to make it into the field of 64. There were doubts about whether the Crimson Tide would qualify because of a 12-17 finish in conference play. The team made it into the tournament because of its strength of schedule according to Baseball America. 

The Crimson Tide heads into the postseason with a .263 batting average and 62 home runs. The pitching staff boasts a 4.68 ERA.

SEC Tournament Recap

The Crimson Tide won its first two games in the SEC Tournament against South Carolina and No. 4 Tennessee. 

A six-run third inning proved to be the difference in Alabama’s 9-3 win against South Carolina to open up its tournament campaign. Sophomore Peyton Wilson had two doubles and an RBI.  

It took the Crimson Tide 11 innings to capture its 3-2 win against the Volunteers. Tennessee looked to walk it off in the bottom of the ninth inning, but the umpires challenged the play. After video review, the umpires confirmed there was interference from a Volunteer base runner at second base and sent the game into extra innings. 

Sophomore Owen Diodati’s RBI single won the game. 

Alabama fell to No. 15 Florida 7-2 in the quarterfinal, which put the Crimson Tide in the loser’s bracket. Alabama crossed paths with Tennessee again in an elimination game. The Volunteers won 11-0. 

Opponent Preview

Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (40-18)

Louisiana Tech will make its first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 2016. The team holds a .308 batting average and a 4.82 ERA. 

Senior Hunter Wells leads the team with a .362 batting average, 90 hits and 11 home runs. 

Alabama is not the first SEC team the Bulldogs could play this season. Louisiana Tech beat No. 1 Arkansas and No. 12 Ole Miss in back-to-back games earlier this season. 

North Carolina State Wolfpack (30-17)

The Wolfpack qualified for its sixth consecutive NCAA Tournament. North Carolina was the runner-up in its conference tournament and finished its season ranked third in the ACC. 

Junior Jonny Butler leads the team with 41 RBIs and a .388 batting average. 

Rider University Broncos (23-16)

This is Rider’s first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2010. 

The Broncos beat Fairfield University 7-2 in the final game of the Metro Atlantic Conference Tournament. 

Graduate student Sean McGeehan holds a team-leading 132 at-bats, 31 RBIs and five home runs.

The Crimson Tide will kick off regional play against North Carolina State on Friday, June 4. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m. CT and will be televised on ESPN 3.