Much of the 2017 Alabama baseball schedule had been determined before Greg Goff replaced Mitch Gaspard at the end of the 2016 Crimson Tide season. There was, however, a need for a season-opening series, and Goff wanted it to be in Tuscaloosa.
“I think we sent out e-mails to find someone who would come here and play us,” said Goff as he looks ahead to the start of Alabama’s 2017 season and his first with the Crimson Tide on Friday.
Presbyterian College answered the call and will be the competition for Goff’s first team at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. The Friday and Saturday games against the Blue Hose will be at 5 p.m. CST (the Saturday game has had a time change to 5) and the Sunday windup will begin at 1 p.m.
And if you happen to miss the opening weekend series, you’ve got some time to catch the 2017 edition of the Crimson Tide at home. Alabama’s first 21 games – through the first Southeastern Conference series March 17-19 against Missouri – are in Tuscaloosa. “We have the best facility and the best fans, so we want to play as many home games as possible,” Goff said.
For now he is ready for Game One, and he said that he knows his players are ready to get the season started.
The SEC preseason coaches poll was recently released showing Alabama predicted to be tied for last place in the SEC Western Division. Goff said he didn’t consider his team to be a last place team and thinks that poll may result in his “players having a chip on their shoulders.”
Goff said the Tide has worked hard in preseason practices. “I’d rather have a team that is tired and prepared than a team that is fresh and not prepared,” he said.
Goff said that senior right-hander Nick Eicholtz (4-3 last year with a 2.30 earned run average) will get the call for the Friday opener, followed by junior right-hander Jake Walters ((5-4, 2.67 ERA) on Saturday by , and sophomore left-hander Dylan Duarte (2-3, 4.13) on Sunday. Goff said all the pitchers would be on a pitch count, so it’s almost certain other pitchers will get action this weekend.
The Tide coach wasn’t ready to talk about the rest of the lineup, but did say he “was not worried” about the middle of the infield, where Cobie Vance returns at second base and Chandler Avant is back at shortstop.
Although no positions are guaranteed, particularly with a new coach, other returning position starters are outfielder Chandler Taylor and first baseman Cody Henry.