Bama leads off versus LaTech

The University of Alabama (0-0) baseball team will begin its 109th season Tuesday, Feb. 12 as it hosts the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (5-1) here at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. The 2002 season opener will begin at 6:30 p.m.

  • Alabama has compiled an all-time record of 2,022-1,191-23 (.629) since its very first game on July 1, 1892.
  • Coach Shelby Fletcher's first Tide nine defeated Sewanee 6-3 at Birmingham's Lakeview Park.
  • The Crimson Tide has also compiled a 722-551-2 (.567) all-time ledger in 1,275 games Southeastern Conference games.
  • Last year, Alabama became the 17th school in NCAA history to post its 2,000th all-time win with a 12-0 victory over Winthrop on March 4, 2001.

SEASON OPENERS

Brent Boyd returns at third base.

The Louisiana Tech marks the 109th season opener in school history. Alabama has compiled a 70-37-1 (.653) opening day record, including an eight-game winning streak that dates back to the 1994 season. The current eight-game opening day winning streak equals the longest streak in school history. Alabama also won eight straight season openers from 1901-08.

Alabama is a perfect 7-0 in season openers under coach Jim Wells, including last year's 10-8 win over No. 19 Oklahoma here at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. Dating back to 1990, Alabama is 11-1 (.917) in its last 12 season openers.

ALABAMA'S PROBABLE STARTING LINEUP:

  • First, # 11 Travis Garner, LF .374, 5 HR, 30 RBI Two-year starter at Meridian CC
  • Second, # 1 Peter Stonard, RF .320, 0 HR, 32 RBI 2001 Freshman All-America
  • Third, # 6 Brent Boyd, 2B .336, 9 HR, 49 RBI 2nd Team All-SEC (2001)
  • Fourth, # 14 Jeremy Brown, C .363, 10 HR, 48 RBI '01 Finalist - Johnny Bench Award
  • Fifth, # 5 Beau Hearod, DH ..295, 8 HR, 55 RBI UA best hitter with bases loaded
  • Sixth, # 10 Carlos Sosa, SS .376, 13 2B, 38 RBI Two-year starter at Pensacola JC
  • Seventh, # 24 Scott McClanahan, CF .341, 4 HR, 35 RBI T1st with 14 career OF assists
  • Eighth, # 26 Allen Rice, 3B .424, 5 HR, 27 RBI All-State as senior at Pelham HS
  • Ninth, # 13 Spencer Pennington, 1B .476, 10 HR, 55 RBI All-State as senior at Fayette HS -- OR -- # 12 Zac Welch, 1B .588, 13 HR, 58 RBI 29 HR & 103 RBI at Alexandria HS

NEW START TIMES

Alabama baseball will have a new start time this season for all weeknight games. All Monday through Friday games will now start at 6:30 p.m. rather than 7 p.m. as they have in previous years. The new time will allow fans to get home earlier from games and will assist families with children who have to attend school the next day. "Maybe 30 minutes earlier can help us some," Alabama head coach Jim Wells said. "The rest of the league seemed to be going to 6:30 p.m. starts, so we will try it and see how it goes."

All Saturday games are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. and all Sunday games will be at 2 p.m. for the 2002 season.

Jeremy Brown is back for another all-star turn at catcher.

THE OPPOSITION

Louisiana Tech brings a 5-1 record into Tuesday night's game with Alabama. The Bulldogs won two of three at home this past weekend against Texas-Arlington. After dropping the opener (10-4), Tech rebounded to take the series with a pair of wins in game two (4-2) and three (12-4). Tech opened their season Feb. 2-3 by sweeping a three-game set with Mississippi Valley State (6-2, 16-6 and 13-0).

Tuesday's starting pitcher is junior college transfer Casey Cowles (2 G, 0-0, 10.80 ERA), who has appeared in two games in relief thus far. In his last outing (Feb. 8), Cowles was touched for two runs and two hits in two-thirds of an inning against UTA.

Among the regulars, Kyle Humphreys (1B, .450, 2 HR, 6 RBI) leads the team in hitting and has at least one hit in all six games. John Brandon (CF, .500, 3 HR, 6 RBI) is the Bulldogs top home run and RBI producer. As a team, Tech is hitting .343 (62-for-181) with 12 home runs and 50 RBI through six games. The pitching staff has a 5-1 record and 3.13 ERA (46 IP, 40 H, 16 ER, 16 BB, 42 K). Derek Brewster (RHP, 2 G, 0-0, 1 SV) has the lone save on the staff.

BAMA-TECH SERIES

The Crimson Tide holds a 9-1 (.900) series lead over the Bulldogs in series that dates back to 1938. The two teams have met on a regular basis since 1997, playing every year with the exception of 1999. Bama and Tech split a pair of meetings last year, including Tech's first-ever win over the Crimson Tide. In the first-ever meeting between the two teams at Ruston's J.C. Love Field, Tech posted its first win, a 7-2 victory.

In addition, Alabama's 13-1 win over Tech last season was Jim Wells' 300th career win with the Tide. Alabama has scored 66 runs in its last five wins over Tech.

CORMIER DRAWS OPENING DAY NOD

Cormier to be staff ‘ace' in 2002.

Senior right-hander Lance Cormier will make his fourth opening day appearance and third straight opening day start for the Crimson Tide this Tuesday night against the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs. Cormier is 2-0 with one save in his three previous opening day starts. In 17 career innings, the Lafayette, La., native has allowed one unearned run on seven hits while adding five walks and 10 strikeouts.

Last year, Cormier threw a five-hit shutout against No. 19 Oklahoma (9 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 K) here at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. He threw seven innings in the 2000 opener vs. BYU (7 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 K) and recorded a save in his first collegiate appearance at No. 15 Houston (1 IP, 1 BB) during the 1999 season.

THEY'RE BACK

Alabama returns five seniors, including four players who are in their fourth year with the Crimson Tide baseball program. Brent Boyd (2B), Jeremy Brown (C), Lance Cormier (RHP) and Scott McClanahan (CF) begin their fourth season with the Tide. Junior college transfer Shane Sanders (RHP) is in his second year with the program.

Scott McClanahan set in centerfield.

In addition to the five seniors, Alabama also returns a good nucleus of last year's team. Also returning are starters Beau Hearod (DH) and Peter Stonard (RF), and backups Chad White (OF), Grant Redding (OF), Adam Pavkovich (INF) and Gabe Scott (RS). On the mound, the Tide also returns Landon Brazell (RHP), Jeffrey Norris (LHP) and Jared Woodward (RHP).

The cumulative batting average of the nine returning offensive players from last season is .317 (414 for 1,308), a full 10 points higher than the Crimson Tide batted as a team last year.

The cumulative ERA of the three returning pitchers from the 2001 season is 3.33, less than one-half lower the team total of 3.81 ERA.

BAMA WELCOMES 21 NEWCOMERS

With a majority of the team returning from last year, the Crimson Tide still managed to add the largest recruiting class in school history and with that class comes some very talented players.

C. Abernathy, OF Independence, Mo.
Matt Alling, OF Vestavia Hills
Josh Baker, P Houston, Texas
Coley Blakeney, P Fayette
Allen Brown, P Dothan
Brent Carter, P Americus, Ga.
M. Clements, C Grapevine, Texas
Travis Garner, OF Sturgis, Miss.
Bo Hannah, C Tuscaloosa
Martin LaRocca, P Metarie, La.
Jacob Legg, P Hartselle
D. Marlowe, P Tuscaloosa
Eric Mennen, P Decatur
Trey Moody, INF Huntsville
S. Pennington, 1B Fayette
Brian Reed, P Amory, Miss.
Allen Rice, INF Pelham
Carlos Sosa, INF Vera Cruz, Mexico
Gary Sullivan, P Hartford
T. Tankersley, P Vicksburg, Miss.
Zac Welch, 1B Wellington

  • Baseball America rated Alabama's signing class as the 12th best in the nation last year.
  • Collegiate Baseball newspaper tabbed the Crimson Tide's class as the 22nd best in the nation.
  • Right-hander Josh Baker (Memorial HS) was a fourth-round pick by the Texas Rangers in the 2001 Free Agent Draft. Baker was actually the Rangers second overall pick behind Mark Texeria (Georgia Tech) after the Rangers gave up their 2nd and 3rd round selections due to the signing all-star shortstop Alex Rodriguez.
  • Right-hander Brian Reed was selected in the 25th round out of high school (1999) by the New York Yankees.
  • Freshman left-hander Taylor Tankersley led Warren Central High School to the state championship last year and was a 30th round pick by the Seattle Mariners.

MORE NEW FACES

In addition to the 22 newcomers on the Alabama roster, there is also a change in the Alabama coaching staff this season. Longtime assistant coach Mitch Gaspard left this summer to become head coach at Northwestern State University. Gaspard was replaced by former junior college coach and Houston Astros scout Danny Watkins. Watkins will work with the Crimson Tide outfielders and hitters and coach first base during the games this season.

Jim Gatewood, now in his fifth year at UA, works with the catchers and infielders and will replace Gaspard in the third base coaching box.

Former pitcher B.J. Green is the student assistant coach this season as he finishes work towards his degree.

Two-time All-American Andy Phillips serves as the volunteer assistant coach, but will leave the team in March to report to spring training for the NY Yankees, where he hopes to open the year with the Triple A Columbus (Ohio) Clippers.

THE 2002 GRIND

The Crimson Tide will play another challenging schedule in 2002, including two teams (Georgia and Tennessee) that played in the 2001 College World Series. In addition, UA will play 30 games against teams that participated in the 2001 NCAA Tournament.

The listing of teams in the 2001 NCAA Tournament includes Auburn, Florida, Florida Atlantic, Georgia, Georgia Southern, LSU, Minnesota, Miss. State, Ole Miss, South Alabama, South Carolina and Tennessee.

The Crimson Tide also had seven opponents ranked in the preseason polls by Baseball America, Baseball Weekly and Collegiate Baseball. The list includes Florida, Georgia Southern, LSU, Miss. State, Ole Miss, South Carolina and Tennessee.

Alabama will also play Division I newcomer Birmingham Southern this year. Last year, the Panthers won 50+ games and captured the NAIA national championship.


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