Alabama baseball to face first road test of the seasonBy Cody Estremera | 03/02/2018 6:43pm
Since he took over, coach Brad Bohannon has talked about new challenges. It started with the pitching staff, and now Alabama baseball heads on the road for its first series away from Sewell-Thomas Stadium this season.
“I’m looking forward to a different opponent and getting out of state,” right-handed pitcher Mason Duke said.
In its Tuesday midweek game, Alabama took the 57-mile drive to Samford for its first game away from home. It won easily 13-3, scoring six runs in the top of the ninth inning.
“I’m glad the schedule has worked out the way it has,” Bohannon said. “That’s as basic and as easy as a road trip as you can have. It was a good experience for us. The kids were excited to get on the bus.”
Now the Crimson Tide heads to Norman, Oklahoma to matchup against the Oklahoma Sooners. The Sooners are 4-5 on the season, but have already played three ranked teams.
Just like Alabama, the Sooners are in their first season under new leadership. Skip Johnson took over on June 19, 2017 after serving as the pitching coach on the team last year. He helped the Sooners to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2013.
“He’s very well respected in the coaching community,” Bohannon said. “He’s a very good pitching coach.”
The Sooners will send out Jake Irvin on Friday night, who is currently 2-0 in his two starts. The former 37th round pick out of high school has 18 strikeouts in 11 innings of work, while maintaining a 2.45 ERA.
“He’s going to be 90-94, with a really good slider,” Bohannon said. “It’s going to be a very good test, probably the best arm we will have faced this year.”
Outfielder Steele Walker and infielder Cade Harris are two major threats that the Crimson Tide will have to deal with. Walker, who has struggled at the plate so far, is ranked by Baseball America as the No. 5 outfielder in the country.
Harris is the team leader in hits, runs, extra base hits and walks. He is hitting .412 while knocking in seven runs this season. It is also worth noting that he has more extra base hits [eight] than anyone on the team has hits [two players are tied at seven hits so far.]
Bohannon has the Crimson Tide sitting at a perfect 9-0 to start the season. He is only one win away from tying Kid Peeples for the most wins to start a head coaching career in program history.
The experienced offense has outscored its opponents 91-26 through those nine games, averaging 10.1 runs a game. It has scored in double digits in every game except for two. It also has three triples on the year, which is already half of last year’s total, while adding 57 walks.
Chandler Avant leads the team in hits with 17, while Cody Henry leads the team in RBIs with 13. Chandler Taylor, who was suspended for the first three games of the season, already has three home runs and 10 RBIs.
First pitch between Oklahoma and Alabama is set at 6:30 p.m. Junior pitcher Sam Finnerty will matchup against Irvin.