Alabama’s offense has been on full display since opening day against Valparaiso. The Crimson Tide outscored the Crusaders 34-13 in that series. Against Washington State, the Crimson Tide nearly matched its run total, putting up 29 runs, while allowing just nine. "Honestly, it's [the Alabama offense] surpassed my expectations to this point," coach Brad Bohannon said. "There was a lot of hard contact today. I felt good about the group going into the season, and ... having an older group of position players, you have guys who aren't trying to do too much."
Alabama’s offense continued standout six games into the season. The Crimson Tide totaled 20 runs in 18 innings Friday night in a double header against Washington State, winning 12-4 and 8-2. "Honestly, its [the Alabama offense] surpassed my expectations to this point," coach Brad Bohannon said. "There was a lot of hard contact today. I felt good about the group going into the season, and... having an older group of position players, you have guys who aren't trying to do to much."
Alabama’s pitching has been the focus since coach Brad Bohannon took over in June. So far, the staff has made tremendous strides from last year. At this point in the season last year, Alabama walked nine batters, while throwing six wild pitches and hit a batter. This year, its allowed only five walks, two wild pitches and hasn’t hit a batter yet.
After an offensive explosion over the weekend, Alabama’s pitching staff was the story on Tuesday in its 4-0 win against Middle Tennessee. Alabama sent out seven total pitchers, four of which didn’t see the mound during the weekend series against Valparaiso. It allowed just four hits, while striking out eight Blue Raiders. Its first two pitchers were lefty Garret Rukes and right-handed pitcher Brock Love.
It seemed like Alabama was going to squander another opportunity with runners on base. It had runners on first and second. No outs. Third baseman Cobie Vance popped up a bunt attempt, followed by a strikeout by right fielder Gene Wood. Outfielder Joe Breaux, who didn’t have a hit coming into the final inning of regulation, slapped slider for a single to right, bringing in pinch runner Connor Stutts for the 6-5 win over Valparaiso.
Heading into the fourth, Alabama was struggling with runners on base. It was 1-for-9 with runners on base and 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position. The first time through the order, Valparaiso starter Jon Tieman had allowed three hits and stranded four runners. Then in the bottom half of the fourth, with two runners on freshman catcher Sam Praytor came up to bat. He lined a ball to the right-center field gap, doubling in the first runs of the game. From then on, Alabama wouldn’t look back. It plated eight runs in the inning, jumping ahead 8-1, before defeating Valparaiso 16-2.
It’s been 261 days since Alabama’s last game of its dismal 2017 season. The team has done almost everything to move on from the 19-34-1 record it posted that year. The only thing left to do is play Valparaiso on Friday.
Alabama infielder Cobie Vance was named to the First Team All-SEC on Thursday. It is the first time since 2015 that a member of the Crimson Tide was named to the list.