It's Hard To Have High Baseball Hopes

Alabama has been the top team in the Southeastern Conference Western Division standings for most of the season, and going into the final weekend of play the Crimson Tide is tied for the division lead. Why, then, is it difficult to be optimistic?

Alabama has done it by the hardest in every series, but except for last weekend's three-game set at Auburn, the Crimson Tide of Coach Mitch Gaspard has managed to best its SEC West rivals. And in some ways, salvaging one game at Auburn on Sunday after blowing late inning leads and losing a doubleheader Saturday may have been one of Bama's finest baseball hours this season.

But things do not look good for Alabama going into this final weekend, even though Bama will be playing at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.

Part of it is the opposition. South Carolina is tied for the lead in the vastly superior SEC Eastern Division, the Gamecocks are ranked in the nation's top five, and South Carolina is defending national champion.

That's tough.

Alabama is tied with three other teams for the SEC West lead, and all of them—Auburn, Arkansas, and Mississippi State--have a soft final weekend schedule. While Bama is hosting the powerful Gamecocks, Auburn will be at Tennessee (worst team in the SEC East), Mississippi State will host LSU (worst team in the West), and Arkansas will host Ole Miss (second worst team in the West).

As a measure of what Alabama faces, the Tide's two announced pitchers for Thursday and Friday games are Nathan Kilcrease and Adam Morgan. The Tide's ace pitchers both have 5-4 records. They will be going against South Carolina's Michael Roth, with a 10-2 record, in the first game of the series at 6:30 p.m. CDT Thursday. In Friday's game, also at 6:30, the Gamecocks will pitch Forrest Koumas, who is 5-0. Alabama hasn't announced a Saturday pitcher, but in the final game of the regular season at noon Saturday, South Carolina will pitch Colby Holmes, who has a 5-2 record that would make him the Tide's best pitcher.

The noon Saturday game will be regionally televised by CSS.

South Carolina, Florida, and Vanderbilt are tied for the East lead with 20-7 records. The Gamecocks have an overall record of 42-11. The four West leaders all have losing SEC records, 13-14. Bama is 31-22 overall.

BamaMag Top Stories