Another Tide Team Has Road Problems
Alabama returns to Sewell-Thomas Stadium against Southern Mississippi at 6:05 p.m. CST Wednesday and the Crimson Tide looks to remain unbeaten in The Joe in 2011. Bama is 4-3 this year – all four wins in Tuscaloosa, the three losses on the road in last weekend's South Alabama Invitational Tournament. Southern Miss is 6-2.
Alabama's starting pitcher will be left-handed sophomore Taylor Wolfe, who is 1-0 this year. The Golden Eagles will counter with junior right-hander Jonathan Thompson.
Alabama opened the 2011 season with a sweep of Alcorn State and defeated Alabama State to improve to 4-0 at Sewell-Thomas Stadium this season. The Tide has now won 27 of its last 34 games on the home diamond, including the last six straight. The Tide posted a 23-7 record at home in 2011 and won four of its five SEC series. The Crimson Tide was 10-5 in SEC home games with series wins over No. 16 Vanderbilt, Auburn, Mississippi State, and No. 14 Mississippi. Alabama went 13-2 in non-conference home games in 2010. In 30 home games, Alabama hit .311 (310-for-997) with 27 home runs and 195 RBI and outscored the opposition 220-145 last season. Since 1948, the Tide has a 1,108- 467 (.702) all-time record at the current location for Sewell-Thomas Stadium.
Alabama, however, lost all three games in Mobile last weekend -- 6-2 at the hands of Southeastern Louisiana Friday, a 10-9 defeat by South Alabama on Saturday, and a loss to UCF 12-4 on Sunday.
Bama will play four home games this week. Following the Southern Miss game on Wednesday, Alabama will have a three-game series against the Northwestern State Demons Friday (6:05), Saturday (2:05), and Sunday (1:05).
Southern Mississippi's two losses came in a three-game series against Troy. Southern Mississippi was projected by the coaches to finish second in Conference USA, only behind the perennial power Rice. The Golden Eagles had three players earn preseason All-America honors, as B.A. Vollmuth was chosen as a first-teamer by Collegiate Baseball, reliever Collin Cargill earned first team honors by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers of America (NCBWA) and starter Todd McInnis was a third team pitcher by the NCBWA. The Eagles are led offensively by Vollmuth, a junior infielder who has a .367 (11-for-30) batting average and team-highs with two home runs and 10 RBI through eight games. The team leader in average is senior outfielder Tyler Koelling who is hitting .452 (14-for-31) and has a .500 on-base percentage. On the mound, Cargill is living up to expectations by collecting two saves in his four appearances, and hasn't allowed a run yet this season. Southern Mississippi is slated to start junior right-handed pitcher Jonathan Thompson on Wednesday. In his first season with the Golden Eagles, Thompson has made two appearances, posting a 1-0 record with a 6.75 ERA in 7.2 innings on the bump. Thompson was the winning pitcher in USM's 8-5 win over Louisiana-Monroe on Feb. 22.
Alabama leads the all-time series against Southern Mississippi by a 67-25 margin.
Although the record wasn't good, the Alabama offense posted a .242 batting average last week, collecting a total of 31 hits in the four games. The Tide had 13 extra base hits during the week, including eight doubles, two triples and three home runs. In the four games, Alabama made just two errors and has four errors in seven games for a team fielding percentage of .985.
Taylor Dugas wasn't in a slump last week. Bama's All-America center fielder led the Crimson Tide with a .438 average, going 7-for-16 from the plate, last week. He had four extra base hits, three doubles and a triple. For the week, he had a .750 slugging percentage and a .526 on-base percentage. Dugas also scored a team-high six runs in the four games.
Other Tiders performing well:
Austen Smith posted a .364 average (4-for-11) for the week, with a pair of home runs and six RBI. His first career hit came on Tuesday against Alabama State when he hit a grand slam in the fourth inning. He also homered against Central Florida Sunday.
Junior shortstop Jared Reaves was 4-for-14 (.375) with nine RBI and one run scored. He was 3-for-5 against South Alabama with a double and his first career home run, while knocking in five runs.
David Kindred was 3-for-9 (.333) in three starts as the designated hitter and is now batting .385 for the season. He also was walked three times, had a double, drove in two runs and scored twice.
Senior left-handed pitcher Jonathan Smart made two relief appearances in the South Alabama Classic and did not allow a run in three innings.
Adam Windsor did not allow a hit in his two innings of relief on Saturday against South Alabama.
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