Haynie tries to awaken quiet Alabama offenseBy Elliott Propes | 04/10/2016 7:03pm
Alabama baseball will host its first SEC series this weekend against Tennessee, and after a 10-2 start, Alabama has gone 3-5 in its last eight games. The pitching has been great all season for Alabama. The Crimson Tide ranks No. 11 in the nation in team-earned run average with a 2.39 ERA. It is Alabama’s bats that have become suspect. Alabama is tied with a ranking of 221st in the nation for runs scored. The team is also ranked 231st in team batting average, hitting .244.
“We’ve really worked hard particularly the last two weeks on strike zone recognition, and I think that’s a big part of our early struggles,” coach Mitch Gaspard said. “That is going to be the difference in us, I believe, offensively of how quick we can make that adjustment, because we are a very capable offense, but those things have to happen. If you go up there and get yourself out 50 percent of the time, it’s tough to generate an offense.”
The one positive lately has been Will Haynie’s bat. The junior catcher began the year hitting .042, recording just one hit in his first nine games. Something wasn’t working for him, so he tried to add new things to his routine.
“Really what I’ve been trying to do is hunt the fastball and get into a good count and get my best swing off when I can,” Haynie said. “[Coach Gaspard] just talked about believing in yourself and trust in your work, and I felt like I’ve put in the work and I’m happy what it has gotten to.”
Haynie said that he has been taking swings in the cage even after games by himself. He said he does a lot of work off the tee to improve consistency.
“It was only three weeks ago that he was hitting .050, but every night I’d go to leave he was in the cage working," Gaspard said. "I don’t [think] he ever let it beat him up. He just stayed with it, and now it is starting to come to him. I think a lot of it is his hard work and mentally he’s stayed strong.”
His bat finally came alive in the Houston series. He grabbed a few hits in the first two games and then hit the game-winning homer against the Cougars in the March 6th game to avoid a sweep. Since the beginning of that series, he has hit for a .400 average, including two homers and four RBIs.
He also played a big part in the series win at No. 7 LSU in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, a place the Crimson Tide hadn't won a series in 20 years. He went 4-for-12 and had three RBIs in the series including his second homer. So it wasn’t a surprise when Haynie was placed as the team’s designated hitter on his day off from behind the plate on Tuesday.
“Houston was probably where it turned around; things started rolling my way,” Haynie said. “I started writing 'believe' on my tape, and it just kind of reminded me to believe in myself.”