Alabama Baseball Gaining Respect

It's looking less and less as if Alabama baseball might be able to sneak up on the competition this year. An early poll had the Crimson Tide of Coach Mitch Gaspard ranked 29th. Although not a game has been played since the early predictions, the latest polls have moved Bama up to 21st with first pitch just over a couple of weeks away.

Both Baseball America and Perfect Game USA have Alabama ranked 21st. The Crimson Tide opens the season on Friday, Feb. 14 against Saint Louis in game one of a three-game series from Sewell-Thomas Stadium.

The Tide returns 21 players, including five position starters and four starting pitchers, from the 2013 NCAA Regional squad that went 35-28. Highlighting the list of returners are 2013 freshmen All-America players Mikey White at shortstop and Ray Castillo on the mound, along with 2013 gold glove second baseman Kyle Overstreet, also coming off his freshman year.

Alabama also returns starters in junior right fielder Ben Moore, sophomore center fielder Georgie Salem, and sophomore Chance Vincent, who ended the 2013 season as the team's designated hitter.

Among pitchers, the Tide returns 2013 weekend starters Spencer Turnbull and Justin Kamplain, and 2013 relief performers Tucker Hawley, Jay Shaw, Jake Hubbard, Mitch Greet, Jon Keller, and Mike Oczypok. Virginia is ranked first in both polls. Last year the Cavaliers were 50-12 and finished 11th in the nation. Baseball America has Oregon State second, Indiana third, Cal State Fullerton fourth, and North Carolina State fifth. Perfect game has Cal State Fullerton second, Oregon State third, Florida State fourth, and Indiana fifth.

Alabama is one of eight Southeastern Conference schools ranked in the Baseball America Preseason Top 25 poll. Also ranked are South Carolina (No. 7), Mississippi State (No. 8), LSU (No. 9), Vanderbilt (No. 10), Florida (No. 23), Texas A&M (No. 24), and Arkansas (No. 25).

Seven teams from the SEC are included in the Perfect Game USA preseason poll. Also ranked are Mississippi State (No. 6), South Carolina (No. 7), Vanderbilt (No. 11), LSU (No. 12), Florida (No. 15) and Texas A&M (No. 19).

Alabama baseball season tickets may be purchased at or call the ticket office at 1.877.TIDETIX.

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