Before SEC Play, Tide Faces Auburn

Alabama baseball begins Southeastern Conference play this week, but first there's the little matter of a game against Auburn. Wait a minute! Isn't Auburn in the SEC? Well, of course. But Bama and the Tigers play an exhibition game before real league competition begins later this week.

Alabama vs. Auburn is always important, but in many seasons the teams meet in an exhibition game that does not count in SEC play. Bama played a similar exhibition earlier this spring against Georgia in Lawrenceville, Ga.

At 7 p.m. CDT Tuesday, Alabama and Auburn will meet at Riverwalk Stadium in Montgomery.

After that, the Crimson Tide will head to Ole Miss for games at 6:30 p.m. CDT Friday, 1:30 Saturday, and 1:30 Sunday.

Alabama is 11-5 this year after a three-game sweep of Eastern Illinois this weekend. Bama has been very good in Sewell-Thomas Stadium, an 11-1 record. Bama is 0-4 away from home.

Alabama has not announced a pitcher for the Auburn game. When Bama goes to Mississippi, the starters are expected to be Nathan Kilcrease, Adam Morgan, and Tucker Hawley. Prior to the start of the season, it was expected that Kilcrease and Morgan would be two of the weekend starters for Bama this year. Morgan had been a regular all last season and Kilcrease moved from bullpen star to starting sensation late in 2010.

Hawley has been very strong in becoming the other weekend starter. He earned the win in Bama's last outing as he held Eastern Illinois scoreless for eight innings, allowing just four hits with three strikeouts and no walks. He extended his scoreless inning streak to 17.

Going into the season there was also a question at shortstop, where three-year starter Josh Rutledge had departed for a pro career. There has been good news there.

Jared Reaves, a junior college transfer, has been excellent in the field and at bat this year. In the three-game series against Eastern Illinois he was 6-11 (.545 batting average) with a pair of doubles and a .727 slugging percentage. He leads the Tide with 21 runs batted in, which is second in the SEC. He has had eight multi-hit games and has a seven-game hitting streak. He had 12 chances in the field and did not make an error.

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