Early Reviews Good For Shortstop

A maxim of athletics is to be strong up the middle. In football, it's center, quarterback, tailback of offense, and nose tackle, middle linebacker, and safety on defense. In baseball it's catcher, pitcher, shortstop, second baseman, and center fielder.

Up the middle was good and bad for Alabama as baseball started this year. It was good to have back an All-America in center field, an outstanding catcher, and two of the top pitchers from 2010. But Alabama was rebuilding in the infield with the loss of three-years starters Josh Rutledge at shortstop and Ross Wilson at second base.

In early returns, at least, Bama is getting good play from new shortstop Jared Reaves. After four games, Reaves leads the Crimson Tide with a .692 (9-for-13) batting average. Through four games, he has eight runs scored, five RBI, two doubles, the team's only triple, and has been hit by a pitch three times. Additionally, he has a 1.000 slugging percentage to lead Alabama. He's has at least two hits in all four games, and was 2-for-2 against Alabama State and 3-for-3 in game two if the series against Alcorn State.

Alabama Coach Mitch Gaspard expected good offense from Reaves, a 5-10, 180-pound junior college transfer. The Eastman, Ga., native played at Southern Union in Wadley, where he was the leading hitter in Alabama junior college baseball as a freshman "and right up there again last year."

Alabama returns to action this weekend with its first games on the road as Bama travels to Mobile for the South Alabama Classic, hosted by the University of South Alabama at Stanky Field. The Crimson Tide opens the Classic on Friday afternoon when Bama takes on the Southeastern Louisiana Lions (3-1, 0-0 Southland) at 1 p.m. CST. The Tide plays South Alabama (4-0, 0-0 Sun Belt) at 1 p.m. on Saturday, and wraps up the tournament on Sunday against Central Florida (4-0, 0-0 CUSA) at 11 a.m.

Alabama is expected to pitch left-handed junior Adam Morgan on Friday, right-handed senior Nathan Kilcrease on Saturday, and right-handed sophomore Tucker Hawley on Sunday. All are 1-0 with about five innings pitched. Morgan and Hawley have not given up an earned run, while Kilcrease has allowed one earned run.

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