Baseball starts fall practiceBy Cody Estremera | 09/27/2017 11:13pm
Alabama ended its 2017 season with a 3-3 tie with Vanderbilt. Shortly after it decided to make a head coaching change, signaling the end of Greg Goff's tenure. Goff had been with the team for one season and oversaw one of the worst SEC finishes in program history.
Eight days later athletic director Greg Byrne turned to Brad Bohannon to lead Alabama.
“As we identified potential candidates, Brad Bohannon’s name continued to surface,” Byrne said in Bohnannon’s introductory press conference over the summer. “We sat down on Monday in our home in Tuscaloosa. What I thought was going to be an hour conversation of getting reintroduced to Brad and talking a little about the program, and then about three and a half hours later he left my house. I could tell right away this is where he wanted to be. He wanted to work with our current team.”
This is Bohannon’s first time ever being a head coach. He previously worked at Auburn and Kentucky as the recruiting director. Since 2008 all of his signing classes have been ranked in the top 25.
The Crimson Tide was officially able to take the field for the first time on Sept. 18 for Bohannon’s first practice as a head coach, which was 11 days earlier than last year’s fall camp.
“It was awesome,” Bohannon said. “It was a very spirited practice. I’m just really pleased with the pace, tempo and the level of intent. If we can maintain that over six weeks we are going to get a lot better.”
The first thing you'll notice about the team is their facial hair. Under Goff players were to be clean shaven, but now most players are sporting some kind of facial hair. Second baseman Cobie Vance was one of the lone exceptions.
“I like to look young,” Vance said. “Every weekend series I shave. I shaved my freshman year, and when I was rolling pretty good I didn’t, but I think I work too hard to have superstitions.”
The fall is a time for evaluation, especially for a new coach. Fall camp is the first time the entire team can be out with the coaching staff, instead of the four-to-ones (four players in a group with one member of the coaching staff) run earlier.
“The point of the fall is to teach and improve,” Bohannon said. “As long as they come out with a high level of intent and focus, then we’ll get better.”
This is the third year in a row there has been a new coaching staff, going back to Mitch Gaspard.
“It’s crazy,” Vance said. “Obviously, you are going to be nervous on the first day of practice, whether it’s the same coach or a new coach… I never would have thought when I was here, this would happen, but it’s a big blessing because these guys that I’m playing for, they’re all good coaches.”
Alabama sent 11 players to seven different summer leagues, including four to the Cape Cod league, which is considered the best.
Ace pitcher Jake Walters refrained from the summer league. He instead focused on getting stronger mentally as well as in the weight room.
Alabama brings back most of its 2017 team, with 14 added faces. The core group who played for three years together also has returned, including the starting infield and right fielder from last year.
“I really believe this core group is ready to win,” Vance said. “We are just ready to get after some teams and execute the way we know we can.”