Tide Preseason 29th In Baseball

Alabama baseball may not be where it wants to be, but indications are the Crimson Tide is getting closer to being competitive with the best teams. Collegiate Baseball isn't waiting until baseball season to present its preseason poll and the Crimson Tide is in that ranking.

The Alabama Crimson Tide of fifth-year coach Mitch Gaspard enters the 2014 season ranked 29th in the nation. Bama is coming off a season in which the Tide was 35-28 overall and 14-15 in Southeastern Conference play. Alabama made it to the NCAA Tournament, being eliminated in the Tallahassee Regional by Troy State.

Although the name of the game is "baseball," another name is synonymous with baseball success: "Pitching."

Alabama returns 21 players from last year's squad, including nine pitchers who accounted for about 85 per cent of 2013 innings. Among the pitchers returning are Spencer Turnbull, Ray Castillo, Justin Kamplain, Mike Oczypok, Jon Keller, Jay Shaw, Taylor Gilbeau, and Tucker Hawley.

Last year the Tide had a solid 3.70 earned run average.

Position players returning for the Tide are all-star candidates shortstop Mikey White, center fielder Georgie Salem, second baseman Kyle Overstreet, first baseman Austen Smith, and right fielder Ben Moore.

The Crimson Tide also welcomed a talented recruiting class to the team for the 2014 season, which is highlighted by pitchers Nick Eicholtz and Geoffrey Bramblett, who were both 2013 MLB draftees. Other highly regarded incoming players include left-handed pitcher Thomas Burrows, catcher Will Haynie, and outfielders Hunter Webb, Casey Hughston and William Elliott.

Being ranked 29th, of course, doesn't mean a pre-season outlook to win the powerful Southeastern Conference. Although Cal State-Fullerton is pre-season number one, the presence of the SEC is immeditate – Mississippi State second, LSU third, both from the SEC Western Division.

Cal State Fullerton headlines the publication's top five, followed by Mississippi State, LSU, Oregon State and Florida State. Alabama is one of eight teams from the SEC ranked in the Collegiate Baseball top 40 preseason poll.

Also from the SEC, Vanderbilt is ninth, South Carolina 14th, Florida 16th, and Texas A&M 25 in front of Bama. After the Tide at 29th comes Ole Miss 30th.

All 14 teams from the SEC are in the preseason poll as Arkansas, Auburn, Kentucky, Georgia, Missouri and Tennessee are in the "others receiving votes" category.

Alabama opens the season Feb. 14 hosting St. Louis.

Collegiate Baseball NCAA Division I Poll_1. Cal State Fullerton_2. Mississippi State_3. LSU_4. Oregon State_5. Florida State_6. Oregon_7. Indiana_8. Louisville_9. Vanderbilt_10. N.C. State_11. North Carolina_12. Virginia_13. Miami_14. South Carolina_15. UCLA_16. Florida_17. Rice_18. Oklahoma State_19. TCU_20. Texas_21. Clemson_22. Arizona State_23. Lafayette_24. Arizona_25. Texas A&M_26. Stanford_27. Cal Poly_28. Kansas State_29. Alabama_30. Ole Miss_31. Western Carolina_32. Oklahoma_33. San Diego_34. Wichita State_35. Liberty_36. Tennessee Tech_37. New Mexico_38. East Carolina_39. UC-Santa Barbara_40. Coastal Carolina

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