Bama baseball notes

The Alabama Crimson Tide is off to its best start in school history, posting a 32-5 overall record through 37 games. The Crimson Tide also moved up the No. 2 in the Collegiate Baseball poll on Monday and was elevated to No. 4 by the Baseball Weekly Coaches poll following a 4-0 week last week, including an SEC series sweep at Kentucky. The Crimson Tide remained No. 4 in the Baseball America poll.

The No. 2 national ranking is the highest by Alabama since the 1997, when the team was ranked No.1 in the nation entering the College World Series. Alabama was the No. 1 seed at the CWS in 1996 and 1997, the first time a team has been the top seed in back-to-back years in Omaha.

Alabama's previous best record to open the season was 30-6-1 by the 1981 SEC Western Division Championship team.

Status report, Tuesday, April 16, 2002

Overall Record: 32-5 (.865)
SEC Record: 12-3 (.800)
Winning Streak: 9 games

Last Week's Results: 4-0 (1.000)

April 10 -- Alabama 5, UAB 3 (at Birmingham)
April 12 -- Alabama 11, Kentucky 9 (at Lexington)
April 13 -- Alabama 10, Kentucky 1 (at Lexington)
April 14 -- Alabama 15, Kentucky 4 (at Lexington)

The Crimson Tide (12-3) leads the SEC by two games over Ole Miss (10-5), who comes to Tuscaloosa for a pivotal three-game conference series this weekend. The game times, which have been altered to accommodate the NCAA Gymnastics Championships, are 4 p.m. (Friday), 2 p.m. (Saturday and Sunday).

Tickets are available for all three weekend games and should be purchased in advance as large crowds are expected for this SEC showdown among the league's top two teams.

Friday's game is also Jim Wells Bobblehead Doll Giveaway to the first 1,000 fans at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. Bobblehead mania has already been a huge success this season at the Capstone as fans flocked to Coleman Coliseum for Rod Grizzard and Erwin Dudley giveaways. Shondra Johnson (women's basketball) and Big Al (mascot) have also had their own bobblehead doll days this year.

Alabama's 12-3 SEC record is just one-half game off the pace as the best start in UA history. The 1981 team opened the year with a 12-2-1 league record through its first 15 games.

The Crimson Tide will host the Samford Bulldogs this Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at Sewell-Thomas Stadium, its first game at the Joe since a three-game sweep of Florida (April 5-7). Alabama is undefeated at home this season (22-0) and enters the game Wednesday with a 26-game home winning streak.

Major Allred, who originally signed with Alabama, is the expected starting pitcher for Samford. Alabama right-hander Jared Woodward is expected to take the hill against the Bulldogs.

This week's schedule:

April 17 -- Samford at Alabama (6:30 PM)
April 19 -- Ole Miss at Alabama (4 PM)
April 20 -- Ole Miss at Alabama (2 PM)
April 21 -- Ole Miss at Alabama (2 PM)

Player of the Week Nomination

# 1 Peter Stonard (OF/2B, Sophomore, Clayton, Missouri)

Batted .444 (8x18) in four games this week with three doubles, one triple, one home run and six RBI. Also compiled an .889 slugging mark.

In Alabama's three-game sweep of Kentucky, Stonard batted a team-high .571 (8x14) with three runs, three doubles, one triple, one home run and six RBI. He compiled a 1.143 slugging mark.

Stonard matched his career high with four hits in Friday's 11-9 win at Kentucky. His 9th inning RBI double gave Alabama an 11-9 lead, plating a key insurance run in a one-run game.

Also matched his career high with two doubles in the win over the Cats. Also homered in the win.

Tallied two hits in each of the last two games of the series.

Stonard started all three games at second base, replacing the injured Brent Boyd. Stonard had never played second base at Alabama prior to this series.

Through 30 games, Stonard is Alabama's leading hitter with a .405 average, adding 11 doubles, four home runs and 26 RBI.

Pitcher of the Week Nomination

# 9 Jeffrey Norris (LHP, Sophomore, Vestavia Hills, Ala.)

Making his second career SEC start, Norris tossed a complete-game, two-hit shutout as No. 3 Alabama rolled past Kentucky 10-1 on Saturday, April 14 in Lexington

Norris allowed only one run and two hits in nine innings, adding one walk and five strikeouts.

He faced just one batter over the minimum and al(lowed only five UK base runners (2 hits, strikeout/wild pitch, walk and fielder's choice).

He needed just 86 pitches to silence the Wildcats bats en route to the complete-game gem. At one point in the game, Norris retired 11 consecutive UK batters on just 20 total pitches from the fourth through the seventh inning.

Norris' two-hit shutout is the first by an Alabama pitcher since Tommy Milstead beat Ole Miss 2-0 on April 7, 1990 in Oxford.

Norris made his first career SEC start last weekend, beating No. 6 Florida in Tuscaloosa.

For the season, Norris has appeared in six games, making five starts, and compiled a 3-0 record with a 2.22 ERA. He has worked 28 1/3 innings and allowed seven earned runs and 25 hits, adding seven walks and 23 strikeouts.

ALABAMA NOTEBOOK

  • Alabama won its 32nd game of the 2002 season on Sunday (April 14) equaling its win total from last season (32-23). The Crimson Tide did not win its 32nd game last year until game 55, the final game of the season.
  • Alabama's 32-5 record is the best start in school history through 37 games. The previous best record was 30-6-1 (1981) and 30-7 (1997). In addition, Alabama's 12-3 SEC record, which includes a 6-3 road record in nine games, is the second best in school history. The 1981 team posted a 12-2-1 record in its first 15 games.
  • Alabama played all four games on the road last week and returns home for four games this week, beginning with Wednesday night's game with in-state rival Samford. The Samford game begins a stretch in which Alabama will play eight of its next nine games at home. The Crimson Tide will host Ole Miss next weekend in a pivotal SEC series. The Crimson Tide owns a two-game lead over the Rebels in the SEC Western Division and overall championship race and midway point of the season.
  • Including the four games last week, Alabama has played 11 of its last 16 games away from Sewell-Thomas Stadium. UA went 8-3 in those games. The Crimson Tide won all four road games last week, including second straight road sweep of UK. Alabama played nine of its first 15 SEC games on the road and posted a 6-3 record.
  • Alabama has won nine straight games for the third time this season. The current streak began April 2 with a 4-3 win over Southern Miss. The Crimson Tide also won nine straight games from Mar. 8-22. The longest winning streak of the season was a 10-game winning streak to open the season (Feb. 12-Alabama can match its season high with a win over Samford this Wednesday night.
  • Freshman third baseman Allen Rice is the Crimson Tide's leading hitter during the nine-game winning streak, posting a .441 (15x34) average with seven runs scored and six RBI. Jeremy Brown (.367, 2 HR, 10 RBI) and Peter Stonard (.361, HR, 11 RBI) are also hitting better than .360 during the streak.
  • As a team, Alabama is hitting .330 (103x312) in its last nine games with 13 home runs and 66 RBI. The Crimson Tide has averaged 8.2 runs and 11.3 hits per game during the streak.
  • Alabama hit .395 (47x119) in its three-game sweep at Kentucky this weekend with three home runs and 33 RBI. Bama averaged 12 runs and 15.7 hits per game in sweeping the Bat Cats for the second straight year. Stonard (.571, 8x14) and Grant Redding (.556, 5x9) were the top two hitters. Adam Pavkovich led the team with seven RBI.
  • Junior Grant Redding matched his career high with four hits in Sunday's 15-4 win over Kentucky.
  • Senior Scott McClanahan had two RBI in Sunday's win at Kentucky, giving him 100 career RBI.
  • Senior catcher Jeremy Brown scored one run on Sunday at Kentucky to tie Andy Phillips' (1996-99) school record with 222 career runs scored.
  • Alabama coach Jim Wells notched his 350th win at Alabama with Saturday's 10-1 win at Kentucky.
  • Senior second baseman Brent Boyd missed all three games at Kentucky with a oblique abdominal strain.
  • Sophomore right fielder Peter Stonard subbed for Boyd at second base, starting all three games against the Cats.
  • Sophomore left-hander Jeffrey Norris' complete-game, two-hitter is the first by an Alabama pitcher since Tommy Milstead beat Ole Miss 2-0 on April 7, 1990 in Oxford. At one point in the game, Norris retired 11 consecutive UK batters on just 20 total pitches. He threw only 86 pitches in his first career complete-game win.
  • Alabama is riding a six-game SEC winning streak and has posted a 17-4 record in league games, dating back to last year.
  • Alabama has made only four errors in its last seven games, including back-to-back errorless games at Kentucky (April 13-14) for the first time this season. Alabama has not made an error in three of its last four games.

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