Help Wanted

Something good might finally come from Alabama's late-season hitting woes when the Crimson Tide (38-21) faces Louisiana-Lafayette (47-17) in the New Orleans Regional on Friday.

That's because Ragin' Cajuns' coach Tony Robichaux, ostensibly thinking ULL can keep Alabama's bats quiet with its number two pitcher Kevin Ardoin (10-4, 3.42 ERA), has set up his pitching rotation to save ace Austin Faught (12-0, 2.45 ERA) to pitch against No. 1 overall national seed Tulane in a hypothetical winners-game match-up on Saturday.

You can't blame Robichaux for playing the odds.

Alabama batted only .183 (17-for-93) in three games in the SEC Tournament in Hoover a week ago and scored just nine total runs in the three games.

Bama also made seven errors and allowed five unearned runs in the tournament.

Senior right fielder Morrow Thomley led the way with a .400 average (4-for-10) with two runs and two RBI. Freshman shortstop Cale Iorg hit .385 (5-for-13) in three games with one run, one double and two RBI.

"Hopefully, the guys that have been hot will stay hot and we will have some others come along," Bama Head Coach Jim Wells said. "Even with all that we had an opportunity to beat a good Mississippi team without getting another hit. Forty percent of our outs are off guys who are getting nothing."

Wells plans to start ace Wade LeBlanc (4-5, 3.76 ERA) Friday in the opener against ULL. Earlier in the week, he considered holding LeBlanc for a possible match-up with Tulane.

"We'll think about that a lot," he said after the selections came in on Monday. "One thing I heard is that they (Lafayette) have a really outstanding pitcher."

"But you've got to win game one," Wells said.

LeBlanc's complete-game effort last Wednesday at the Southeastern Conference Tournament went largely overshadowed by the winning effort and 14-strikeout performance of Ole Miss starter Mark Holliman.

LeBlanc said Monday that his work in the SEC Tournament helped him feel like his is back to the form of his stellar freshman year. For Alabama to have a shot to advance to a Super Regional, LeBlanc needs to go deep in the game (and for Alabama to win) Friday evening.

Of course, the pitching decisions for everyone could change at any time between now and first pitch.

But if things remain as currently planned, LeBlanc will be followed by T.J. Large (7-4, 3.61 ERA) on Saturday with Brent Carter waiting in the wings for relief. Lesser used Jordan Davis (5-2, 3.27 ERA) is the planned starter for a possible third game.

Forecast Improving

Many eyes will be trained on the sky above Turchin Stadium, the home site of the Tulane Green Wave. Earlier forecasts called for scattered thunderstorms Friday through Sunday with a 30 percent chance of rain.

But weather.com's outlook shows a forecast more favorable for baseball, calling for mostly sunny skies on Friday and partly cloudy skies on Saturday (what's the difference?) and a 20 percent chance of rain each day. Scattered thunderstorms and a 30 percent chance of rain are still in the forecast for Sunday and Monday ("if necessary" game) lists a 40 percent chance of rain.

Television Rights Acquired

All of the Crimson Tide's games will be televised live in Alabama on WVUA in Tuscaloosa and WOTM in Birmingham.

Television rights to the games have been acquired by Jumbo Sports Network, and will be televised live in the New Orleans area on WNOL, WB38, throughout the weekend. The New Orleans Regional contests will also be shown throughout the state on KZUP in Baton Rouge, KLAF in Lafayette and KPXJ in Shreveport.

Comcast/Charter Sports Southeast (CSS) will carry Friday's Tulane game live and show the Alabama contest on tape delay at 11 a.m. (CDT) on Saturday. The Crimson Tide's Saturday game, meanwhile, will air on CSS tape delayed on Sunday at 11 a.m. (CDT).

The winner of the New Orleans Regional advances to the Super Regional where it will play a three-game series vs. the winner of the Baton Rouge Regional (LSU, Rice, Northwestern State and Marist) for the right to advance to the College World Series.

2005 NCAA New Orleans Regional Schedule:

Friday, June 3
Game 1: No. 1 Tulane vs. No. 4 Southern, 2:30 p.m.
Game 2: No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 3 Louisiana-Lafayette, 6:30 p.m.

Saturday, June 4
Game 3: Game 1 Loser vs. Game 2 Loser, 2:30 p.m.
Game 4: Game 1 Winner vs. Game 2 Winner, 6:30 p.m.

Sunday, June 5
Game 5: Game 3 Winner vs. Game 4 Loser, 2:30 p.m.
Game 6: Game 4 Winner vs. Game 5 Winner, 6:30 p.m.

Monday, June 6
Game 7: Game 4 Winner vs. Game 5 Winner, 6:30 p.m. (if necessary)


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