High powered offenses meet in Tuscaloosa for baseball's midweek game against No. 16 Southern MissBy Cody Estremera | 03/07/2018 11:42am
Alabama has an experienced lineup, and its shown through the first 12 games of the season. Outfielder Walker McCleney, first baseman John Trousdale and catcher Sam Praytor are the only players who have started for head coach Brad Bohannon that aren’t at least a junior.
Alabama’s offense has scored double digits runs six times this season, while recording double digit hits in eight of the team’s 12 games. The Crimson Tide recorded a season high 18 hits in Sunday’s win over Oklahoma.
As a team, Alabama was ranked ninth in the country in batting average, hitting .344 before the weekend. After the weekend, it is hitting .327, which is 16th in the country. Its ranked 15th in the country with 109 runs scored.
Alabama has also been patient at the plate. It has drawn 76 walks, including 19 times this weekend, which is tied for 15th in the country. Third baseman Cobie Vance leads the team with 14, and is tied at No. 16 in the country.
It has also been hit by a pitch 27 times this season, which is among the top six teams in the country.
“We’re just seeing it well,” first baseman Cody Henry said. “We have a lot of hit by pitches too. We about lead the SEC in hit by pitches too, right. I guess they don’t like us... You like to see that. That’s how you win games.”
Keith Holcombe, who led the NCAA in batting average coming into the Oklahoma series, has been one of Alabama’s best hitters. The Tuscaloosa, Alabama native is hitting .474, which is tied for 20th in the country, and is tied for third on the team with 12 RBIs.
“To be honest, I’m not really thinking about it,” Holcombe said. “I’m just out there trying to have fun. You can’t blame a guy for that.”
Second baseman Chandler Avant has been on base every game this season. He had a 10-game hitting streak, leading to a team-high 20 hits. He has also been hit by a pitch six times this year, which ties outfielder Joe Breaux for the team lead and for 11th in the NCAA.
First baseman Alexander has also been on a tear this season. The senior is hitting .391 on the season with 18 hits, which is second on the team, and 12 RBIs.
Henry leads the team in RBI with 17, which is also tied for 19th in the country. Five of his 10 hits have gone for extra bases, including a two-run home run in Sunday’s series finale against Oklahoma.
Even though he missed the first three games of the season, Chandler Taylor has made an impact. He leads the team in home runs with four, no other player has more than one long ball on the team. He is also second on the team in RBIs , while hitting .294. He has also walked 10 times in just nine games.
Sophomore pitcher Garret Rukes starts for Alabama against No. 16 Southern Miss on Wednesday. The Golden Eagles are 8-3 heading into the matchup, and have scored 115 runs, which is ninth in the country. They are led by junior infielder Luke Reynolds, who is hitting .432 with four home runs.
“They’ll clearly be the best offensive team that we’ve played all year,” Bohannon said. “They’re hitting .320. It’s an older physical group. It’s going to be a really good challenge for us.”