Alabama Baseball Opens 2011 Season

The Alabama baseball team opens the 2011 season with the Tide playing host to the Alcorn State Braves in a three-game weekend series at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. The two teams will break in a new year for both teams at The Joe on Friday at 6:05 p.m. CST. Game two is slated to begin at 2:05 p.m. on Saturday with Sunday's first pitch scheduled for 1:05 p.m.

On Saturday, Alabama fans can enjoy two Crimson Tide games for the price of one. The baseball team will host Alcorn State at 2 p.m., followed by a 6 p.m. game between Alabama and Arkansas in men's basketball. Fans can use their men's basketball ticket to gain admittance into both the baseball and basketball games.

Alcorn State is coming off a season that saw the Braves post a 27-28 overall record and finish fifth in the Southwest Athletic Conference (SWAC) with a 15-8 record. ASU returns 20 letter winners, including 14 position players (six starters) and six pitchers (two starters).

Alabama and Alcorn State have played 12 times, with the Tide holding an 11-1 advantage. The Crimson Tide has rolled off 10 straight wins over the Braves.

With all the talk of the players that left the Bama program following the 2010 season, it should not go unnoticed that the Tide returns half of its starting position players and a good portion of its starting pitching rotation from last season.

Taylor Dugas is one of three returning starters in the outfield, joining fellow starters Jon Kelton (LF) and Andrew Miller (RF). Dugas led the Tide with a .395 average, while leading the SEC with a .525 on-base percentage last season. Kelton finished his junior season with a .281 average, while starting 58 of 67 games. Miller was selected to the SEC All-Freshman Team after hitting .268 during conference play.UA returns Brock Bennett, who played more innings (341.1) behind the plate than any other Tide player last season. Bennett started 44 games, hit .279 for the season, and was a 2010 SEC All-Tournament selection.

On the mound, Alabama returns starters Adam Morgan, Taylor Wolfe, and Tucker Hawley, as well as bullpen ace and spot starter Nathan Kilcrease. Morgan started 18 games and had a 7-5 record with a pair of complete games as a sophomore. Wolfe made 14 appearances, including nine starts, for a 3-2 record. Hawley was 2-1 in 16 outings, five as a starter, and set an Alabama record with just four walks as a freshman. Kilcrease was dominant as a junior, posting an 8-3 record with a 2.85 ERA. He was named the Atlanta Regional Most Valuable Player, after throwing 13 innings for a 2-0 record.

Entering the 2011 season, Alabama will take the field with 20 new faces on the 35-man roster. The 20 newcomers include 10 new freshman, seven transfers and three players making their debuts with the Tide. Highlighting the transfers in the incoming class are Nathan Kennedy (pitcher), Jared Reaves (shortstop), Josh Rosecrans (catcher), Josh Sanders (second base), Charley Sullivan (pitcher) and Jason Zylstra (pitcher). Freshmen to keep an eye on this season are Patrick McGavin (first base/pitcher), Jay Shaw (pitcher), Austen Smith (first base) and Jeremiah Tullidge (outfield).

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