Alabama will meet the Kentucky Wildcats Tuesday in the first day of SEC Tournament play at the Hoover Met in suburban Birmingham. The Tide and Wildcats will have first pitch at 4:30 p.m. CDT. CSS will televise the game. The winner of the game goes into double elimination play against top seed Florida. The loser of the game is eliminated from the tournament.
In mid-March, Alabama opened SEC play hosting the Wildcats, ranked 20th in the nation and boasting a reputation as big hitters, leading the nation in hits and runs. In the first game, Spencer Turnbull pitched into the eighth inning before Thomas Burrows came on in relief to preserve a 3-0 win. Bama would win two of three from the Wildcats in that SEC opening series.
That game must have felt like an offensive deluge to Turnbull. Three runs!
In his last outing, Turnbull turned in his eighth "quality start" of the season, throwing seven innings, allowing one run on five hits with three strikeouts last Friday night against Mississippi State. Turnbull was the tough-luck loser as the Tide dropped the game 1-0. Alabama has lost six games this season when Turnbull started and gave up two runs or less. Turnbull leads the Tide starters with a 2.28 ERA in 87 innings with 59 strikeouts. He is ninth in the SEC in ERA and his .193 opponent's batting average ranks fifth in the conference.
Alabama goes into the tournament with a 34-21 record. The Tide finished 15-14 in SEC play. Although the final series was not a good one as Bama dropped two of three games to Mississippi State, it was good to win the last game, 2-1. Not only does that send the Tide into the SEC Tournament off a win, it was also the final game in Sewell-Thomas Stadium as now configured. In upcoming weeks The University will begin a $35 million remodeling project at the stadium.
Alabama continues to get good play from young players. Last week freshman Casey Hughston led the Tide with a .538 batting average, posting multiple hits in all three games he played in. He had a team-best four runs scored, while driving in three runs. He had a 3-for-5 performance against Jacksonville State that included his second triple of the season, with three runs scored and an RBI. He posted a .500 (4-for-8) average in two games against Mississippi State, with a double, an RBI and a run scored. For the season he is hitting .283 with four home runs, 23 RBI and 17 runs scored.
Alabama is making its 26th appearance in the SEC Tournament and making its ninth appearance in the tournament in the last 10 years.