Baseball concludes fall practice

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The University of Alabama baseball team wrapped its four-week fall baseball practice session on Oct. 14 and head coach Jim Wells is pleased with the depth his team has for the upcoming season.

"We have more players, more numbers, than we have ever had before and that allowed us to scrimmage one more day each week during the fall," Wells said. "We have a lot of depth, which we have not had in the last couple of years. That is nice, but they are also young. But at least we have some options coming off the bench this year that we have not had the last two years."

Many of the Tide's returning starters and newcomers worked multiple positions this fall and the preseason depth chart has as many as three players listed at some positions.

True freshman quarterback Spencer Pennington, who signed a football scholarship, is also a star on the baseball field.

But the real key lies in the additions of infielders Carlos Sosa and Spencer Pennington. Sosa was recovering from a torn Achilles this fall and did not see a lot of action. Pennington, a quarterback on the football team, did not participate in fall drills.

"Those are two key guys we did not have in the fall," Wells added. "I think they will be able to contribute this spring and that will help our team. Right now, they could be half of our infield."

The Crimson Tide has veteran leadership, too. Four seniors will also be the key for this year's success, including position players Brent Boyd, Jeremy Brown and Scott McClanahan. Right-hander Lance Cormier will anchor an improved and talented pitching staff.

"Our veterans will definitely have to help us," Wells added. "Their experience will be needed to make us a better club. They can teach the others how to hold a late lead, get a big hit or make the routine plays, something we did not do the last two years. Our mental approach has to change and these four seniors have to step up and help the younger guys get it done this year."

Coming out of the fall, the infield depth chart has Pennington, Welch and Matthew Whitaker at first base, Boyd and freshman Allen Rice at second base, Sosa and sophomore Adam Pavkovich at shortstop, junior Beau Hearod, sophomore Peter Stonard and Rice at third base.

In the outfield, sophomore Chad White and Hearod are in left field, McClanahan and freshman Chad Abernathy in center and junior Travis Garner and Stonard in right field.

The pitching staff should be as strong as any in the eight years Wells has been head coach at Alabama.

Senior Lance Cormier is expected to anchor the Tide pitching rotation.

It's obvious that senior right-hander Lance Cormier (9-5, 2.30 ERA) is the ace of the staff after posting his best year last year as a junior. Joining Cormier in the SEC rotation could be freshman right-hander Josh Baker, senior right-hander Shane Sanders, freshman left-hander Taylor Tankersley, junior left-hander Martin LaRocca, freshman left-hander Eric Mennen or sophomore right-handers Jared Woodward and Landon Brazell.

Out of the bullpen, Alabama fans could see juniors Gary Sullivan and Brian Reed. Sanders, who worked mostly out of the pen last year, could also fill that role again this season if he is not pressed into duty as a starter.

"Our pitching staff is better than it has been in any of the previous seven years," Wells added. "We had a lot of close, nine-inning scrimmage games this fall. Games that were 2-1, 3-2, 4-3. We have a lot of depth on the mound and a lot of options."

The Crimson Tide will continue individual workouts through the end of November and will resume practice in mid-January for the upcoming 2002 season. Alabama's season opener is Tuesday, Feb. 12 against Louisiana Tech at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.

Alabama Baseball Notebook

  • Alabama's 2001-02 recruiting class was rated among the best in the nation according to two well-known baseball sources. The Crimson Tide's incoming class was rated 12th best in the nation by Baseball America and 3rd by Collegiate Baseball newspaper.
  • Applications are now being accepted for the 2001 Alabama Baseball Christmas Speciality Camp, which will be held Dec. 22-23, 2001 at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. In case of inclement weather, the camp will be held in the Hank Crisp Indoor Facility. The first day of the Christmas Speciality Camp will begin at 9 a.m. and conclude at 9 p.m. The final day of camp begins at 9 a.m. and will end at 4 p.m. The cost is $135 for commuters and $165 for overnight campers. All campers must be in at least the seventh grade to stay overnight. Please contact assistant coach Jim Gatewood for more information.
  • Season ticket order forms were mailed from the Alabama Athletic Ticket Office on Tuesday, Oct. 16 for renewals for current season ticket holders. The deadline to return those renewal forms is Nov. 9. Ticket prices will remain the same this season as they were for the 2001 baseball season. Also, anyone interested in purchasing season tickets for the upcoming 2002 baseball season may do so by requesting a season ticket application through the Athletic Ticket Office. The number to call is (205) 348-2262.

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