Tide placed in 'winnable' region

There was a different tune among the Alabama baseball team during this year's NCAA Regional selection show.

Last year, the Tide knew it was a host, national seed, and was just wondering who was coming to Tuscaloosa. This year, however, the Tide knew it had the automatic bid. The buzz among many players was that they would go to Georgia Tech or to Southern Miss.

The Tide (37-22) will open regional play against No. 3 seed Houston (32-27). The Cougars handed the Tide its first loss of the season in February, by a score of 7-2. The other teams in the bracket include No. 1 and host school Texas A&M (43-17) and No. 4 seed Oral Roberts (41-18).

Wells likes his chances in this regional, especially since the Aggies are not a national seed. A regional championship could mean that the Tide would face No. 4 national seed Rice.

"It's one that is winnable, certainly if we continue to play like we have the past four days," Wells said. "There's no team that looks like a blowout but I don't know much about Texas A&M. But we are familiar with Houston. We're happy to be in it, and we feel like we have a good shot at winning it."

Alabama players are just ready to move on to the regional tournament after winning four straight games to defend its SEC Tournament title and claim the automatic bid from the SEC.

"At this point in the year it doesn't matter who you play," pitcher Brian Reed said. "We're playing good right now. We knew we weren't getting a national seed or a regional site. We've been playing well."

Even though the Tide has played Houston, it was on February 15. Three months have passed since then, and both teams have endured many ups and downs along the way.

"We probably have good scouting reports on them, but now its who is playing better and who wants it more," Reed said. "I'm glad they didn't put us with Auburn or Mississippi State, because we needed to get out of here and go somewhere. They probably have one of the best pitchers in the country (Brad Sullivan), but he's been struggling this year."

The players had no idea what regional they would be going to, but knew it would be somewhere.

"We heard Hattiesburg, Atlanta, we heard everything," Reed said. "Two weeks ago we heard we weren't even getting into the tournament. We didn't talk about where, we just knew we were getting in."

Wells was also clueless on where he would be traveling this weekend.

"My source had us in Hattiesburg or Atlanta," Wells said. "But its happened to us enough through the years where you really don't know. I think it went down to the wire where they were going to send us, but College Station is fine with us."

Alabama will likely play at 2 p.m. on Friday, with Texas A&M and Oral Roberts playing in the night game at 7 p.m. Texas A&M's Olsen Field has field dimensions of 330 down the lines, 375 to left and right center field, and 400 to straight away center field.

When it was revealed that the Tide would be a No. 2 seed in the College Station Regional, hosted by Texas A&M, many thought of the former Alabama football coach, Dennis Franchione.

"I don't know," coach Jim Wells said, when asked if he would see Franchione in College Station. "I didn't know him very well. We only talked once, and that was about Spencer Pennington. It was a good conversation, but I think that was the only time we talked."


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