New era in Alabama baseball begins with first week of fall practiceBy Cody Estremera | 09/18/2016 6:58pm
Over 400 career wins, two time America Baseball Coaches Association Diamond South Central Region Coach of the Year for Division I honors and multiple NCAA playoff berths are just a few things head coach Greg Goff brings to the Alabama baseball team.
Goff, who has been a head coach for a total of 13 years for three different programs, decided to leave Louisiana Tech for his dream job.
“Alabama needs to be great at baseball,” Goff said. “It’s just a mentality. We need to be great, not good. This is a great university, with some of the best facilities in the country. That’s why I picked up my family and came here, because it is a great opportunity.”
The fall season is where Goff plans to implement his systems for base running, defense and hitting. He said that the team can definitely get better in some things, like moving runners, two strike approach and sacrifice bunting.
The team has implemented a points system in practice. If a player makes a great play, mostly by diving they earn a point. The goal is to have the most points and show that you can make the plays when they matter most.
Goff, a Yankee’s fan, plans to run the team like a pro team, and he has implemented several off-field rules.
“I just feel that everything that you need to succeed in life takes discipline,” Goff said. “Hair cut needs to be nice and shave every other day, sitting in the in first two rows in the class room, and no hats when we walk into the classroom. I just want our guys to be respectful and a good role models. Our guys come to get a great degree and to be better than they were when they came in.”
Alabama has established players already on the team. Some players even decided to come back after being drafted, to play for Goff. Senior Nick Eicholtz decided to come back after being drafted in the 13th round of the MLB draft.
“Talking to coach Goff throughout the whole process [of coming back] I just felt they really wanted me here,” Eicholtz said. “I felt at this point the University of Alabama was the place for me. He called me the day after he got hired. He told me that 'I want you to come back and get your degree and be a senior leader on this team.'“
The Crimson Tide started its fall practice on Sept. 29 last year almost two full weeks later than this year.
“It’s a little nicer when it’s [practice] a little later because it’s a little cooler,” junior Cody Henry said. “I’m excited about all the guys on the team. It’s great to be out here.”
The team has been adjusting to the system Goff has put in place. Henry said that when he signed here that he was going to abide by team rules, no matter who the coach is, and go all in.
Players like sophomore Cobie Vance participated in summer leagues. Vance participated in the Texas Collegiate League and was named as the fourth best prospect there. Henry played under legendary coach Ron Pope, and said that he will cherish that memory for the rest of his life.
Last season the team made it to the second round of the SEC tournament. He can tell that the team is wanting to do more this year.
“A lot of guys got out here early, around 1 or 1:30, just hitting on their own,” Goff said. “That’s what you have to do, is put in the time. I’ve been really pleased with our leadership so far.”
Last year sophomore Chandler Avant had a devastating end to his season when he fractured his ankle on a play up the middle. Since then he’s been putting in the work to get back to 100-percent, and Goff has taken notice.
“I can’t say enough about that kid,” Goff said. “He’s the first one here every day, and the last one to leave every day. As a new coach coming in, you see a guy doing that and buying in it just makes it easier. He’s been a tremendous leader. When you go through an injury like that you have to sit back and watch everyone else play, you have a different mindset as far as not taking anything for granted. You can tell it too. If we can get everyone to do that we are going to be pretty good."