Alabama beat JSU 17-0 last year in Tuscaloosa. In fact, the last two UA wins have both been shutouts. Travis Garner, Adam Pavkovich and Grant Redding are all three riding seven-game hitting streaks.
The game at Jacksonville also marks a homecoming for Calhoun County native and Alexandria native Zac Welch. Welch was a five-year starter on the diamond for former Saks High standout Andy Shaw. He also played football for Larry Ginn at Alexandria. Welch was the 2000 Player of the Year by The Anniston Star and led his team to the Calhoun County championship. As a prep senior, Welch batted .588 with 13 home run and 51 RBI for the Valley Cubs. He was also 12-0 with 1.20 ERA on the mound.
The Crimson Tide dropped two of three at home this past weekend to Ole Miss, snapping its school-record 27-game home winning streak. Alabama remains one game ahead of the Rebels in the SEC race with 12 games to play.
The Crimson Tide is home this weekend, hosting arch-rival Auburn Tigers in a three-game SEC series. All three games were announced as sellouts on Monday.
Bama's probable starting lineup
- # 24 Scott McClanahan, CF .331, 5 HR, 40 RBI Career-high 40 RBI this year
- # 4 Adam Pavkovich, SS .292, 5 HR, 21 RBI Seven-game hitting strk (.302)
- # 1 Peter Stonard, RF .398, 4 HR, 27 RBI 4th in SEC with .398 batting avg.
- # 14 Jeremy Brown, C .350, 10 HR, 50 RBI Batting .434 (23-53) in 13 road gms
- # 6 Brent Boyd, 1B .284, 4 HR, 28 RBI Hit two HRs vs. Ole Miss (Apr. 20)
- # 5 Beau Hearod, DH .325, 8 HR, 39 RBI Batting .184 (9-49) on the road
- # 26 Allen Rice, 3B .276, 0 HR, 12 RBI One hit in last 13 at-bats
- # 27 Grant Redding, LF .491, 1 HR, 1 RBI Seven-game hitting strk (.591)
- # 11 Travis Garner, RF .341, 4 HR, 19 RBI Seven-game hitting strk (.480)
Probable pitching matchup:Alabama: # 38 Jared Woodward, RH 14 G, 4-1, 3.88 Making 5th start of year vs. in-state schools
JSU: # 21 Jesse Corn, RH 12 G, 1-2, 5.51 Allowed 52 hits in 47 innings this year
Bama's SEC start is best in 50 yearsAlabama has won four of its first six SEC series and has posted the best 18-game SEC record since 1956. The 1956 Alabama team also posted a 13-5 record in its first 18 games and finished the year with a 15-5 league mark. The 1949 UA team went 14-4 in its 18-game league schedule.
The best 18-game record in school history is a 16-2 worksheet compiled by the 1955 SEC Championship team and NCAA District III Participant.
The 2002 team's 13-5 SEC record is the best 18-game under coach Wells. The previous best was a 12-6 ledger compiled by the 1996 and 1997 teams.
Bama posts SEC's second best startAfter posting a 12-3 league record through its first 15 games, Alabama equaled the second-best start in SEC history since the league adopted the current 30-game format (1996). The 1997 LSU Tigers are the only team with a better record than Alabama at the midway point of the conference season. The Tigers posted a 13-2 record in its first 15 games and then won the regular-season championship on the final day of the regular season, after avoiding a sweep at the hands of runner up Alabama.
The 2002 Alabama team joins four other SEC teams with 12-3 records at the midpoint of the conference. Florida (1998), LSU (1998), Arkansas (1999) and South Carolina (2000) all posted 12-3 records through 15 games. Of the five aforementioned teams, only LSU (1998) did not win the outright SEC Championship, losing out to the Gators that same season.
THE OPPOSITIONJax State -- The Gamecocks bring a 16-24 record into Wednesday's game at Rudy Abbott FIeld. JSU has lost 10 of its last 13 games and 17 of its last 21 games dating back to March 13. The Gamecocks dropped two of three this past weekend at Samford to fall to 2-15 in Atlantic Sun Conference play.
As a team, JSU is batting .248 (302-for-1220) this season with 19 home runs and 167 RBI. The Gamecocks average 5.05 runs and 7.6 hits per game this season. The leading hitters are Brian Haskins (34 G, .297, 3 HR, 23 RBI), Heath Comer (36 G, .290, HR, 11 RBI) and Travis Suereth (37 G, .276, 3 HR, 17 RBI). Andrew Tarver (35 G, .228, 18 RBI) leads the club with four home runs, while Ben Phillips (37 G, .248, 2 HR) is second on the team with 19 RBI. JSU has made 73 errors in 40 games, compiling a .947 fielding percentage this year.
On the mound, the Gamecocks have compiled a 5.46 ERA, and allowed 191 earned runs and 368 hits in 315 innings. JSU is expected to start right-hander Jesse Corn (12 G, 7 GS, 1-2, 5.51 ERA) on Wednesday night against the Crimson Tide.
ALABAMA VS. JAX STATEAlabama holds a 16-5 (.762) lead over Jacksonville State in a series that dates back to 1967. The Crimson Tide won the first 10 games played between the two schools through the 1974 season. Since 1975, the teams have battled on almost even terms. Alabama has posted only a 6-5 record in the last 11 meetings, losing four of the last seven since 1980.
Last year, Alabama posted its most impressive win in series history with a 17-0 at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. The Crimson Tide's last two wins over JSU have been shutouts, including a 3-0 decision in 1999.
The two teams have split the last four meetings in the series.
Alabama will be playing in Jacksonville for only the third time in series history this Wednesday night. The Crimson Tide last played in Jacksonville in 1999, losing a 5-3 decision on a ninth-inning home run. Alabama has never won a game in the two meetings with JSU in Jacksonville.
Tide tabbed as nation's top surprise in 2002In the May 12 issue of Baseball America (the complete results are on-line now at www.baseballamerica.com), the Crimson Tide has been tabbed the No. 1 surprise in college baseball this season by senior writer John Manuel. Joining Alabama on the list are Florida (lost three at Alabama), Long Beach State and Florida Atlantic (lost 8-3 to Alabama at Hormel Foods Classic, Mar. 3). The Crimson Tide swept Florida (April 5-7) and is the last team to beat FAU, who owns the nation's longest current winning streak at 25 straight games.
The Crimson Tide was tabbed 32nd in Baseball America's preseason Top 100.
Baseball America has also projected Alabama as one of the 16 teams to host an NCAA Regional in its annual mock midseason bracket. According to BA, South Alabama (No. 2 Seed), James Madison (No. 3 Seed) and Austin Peay (No. 4 Seed) are expected to join the Tide at the Joe.
Baseball America also selected its preseason All-America teams by class and the Tide put two players among the nation's best players in Manuel's survey. Left-hander Taylor Tankersley (14 G, 6-3, 3.02 ERA, 9 Saves) made the midseason Freshman All-America team, while right-hander Lance Cormier (11 G, 4 CG, 8-1, 2.29 ERA) was selected to the midseason senior All-America squad.
Alabama ranks 8th nationally with a 3.18 ERA.
Lance Cormier is fifth nationally with eight wins (8-0, 2.21 ERA) and 44th in the nation with a 2.21 earned run average.
Brian Reed is seventh in the nation with seven saves.
SEC RANKINGSAccording to the latest SEC statistics (April 22), Alabama ranks among the league leaders in several categories.
Wins: 1st (34)
Batting Average: 4th (.320)
Slugging Percentage: 3rd (.496)
On-Base Percentage: 3rd (.401)
Runs Scored: 3rd (316)
Hits: 4th (453)
RBI: 3rd (290)
Doubles: 3rd (97)
Home Runs: T3rd (44)
Total Bases: 3rd (702)
Double Plays: 1st (46 hit into)
Sac Flies: 2rd (25)
Sac Bunts: 4th (28)
ERA: 1st (3.24)
Fewest Losses: 1st (7)
Saves: 1st (15)
Strikeouts: 4th (294)
Fewest Runs Allowed: 1st (163)
Fewest ER Allowed: 1st (132)
Fewest Walks: 1st (91)
Fewest WPs: T1st (16)
Fielding Percentage: T8th (.960)