Any combination of Alabama wins and South Carolina losses this weekend equaling two will give the Crimson Tide the outright championship. Alabama has already assured itself of the Western Division championship after its first sweep over Miss. State since 1976.
The Crimson Tide has won 10 Western Division titles, also more than any other league school. Alabama has lost three SEC series (USC, Ole Miss and Georgia) this year, but also has recorded five series sweeps (Tennessee, Florida, Kentucky, Auburn and Miss. State).
Alabama has posted a 9-3 record against the SEC Western Division this season, winning three of its first four series. Against the Eastern Division, Alabama posted an 11-2 record with three sweeps.
Alabama's probable starting lineup:
- # 24 Scott McClanahan, CF .327, 11 HR, 52 RBI Homered in four straight games
- # 4 Adam Pavkovich, SS .291, 5 HR, 27 RBI Hit Safely in three of last four gms
- # 1 Peter Stonard, RF .416, 4 HR, 31 RBI Riding 12-game hitting streak
- # 14 Jeremy Brown, C .339, 10 HR, 55 RBI Needs 5 RBI for UA career record
- # 6 Brent Boyd, 1B .286, 7 HR, 41 RBI Holds UA record 916 career ABs
- # 11 Travis Garner, RF .347, 5 HR, 23 RBI Hit safely in 17 of 19 gms (.347)
- # 5 Beau Hearod, DH .324, 10 HR, 45 RBI Batting .437 in last five games
- # 27 Grant Redding, LF .441, 2 HR, 17 RBI Four-game hitting streak (.400)
- # 26 Allen Rice, 3B .242, 0 HR, 14 RBI Batting .357 (15-42) in 13 road gms
Probable pitching matchups:Alabama: 18 Lance Cormier, RH 14 GS, 9-2, 3.12 Holds four career pitching records
9 Jeffrey Norris, LH 10 G, 4-0, 2.98 Allowed three ER or less in all eight starts
16 Shane Sanders, RH 16 G, 8-1, 2.88 Allowed only three ER in last four starts
LSU: 46 Lane Mestepey, LH 15 G, 9-3, 2.99 Team-high 108 1.3 IP this year
38 Brian Wilson, RH 18 G, 7-4, 3.56 Recorded 28 K in last four outings
34 Bo Pettit, RH 16 GS, 7-6, 3.60 Leads team with 93 K (95 IP) this year
Bama seeks record 14th SEC championshipAlabama's magic number to its SEC leading 14th Southeastern Conference championship is two games. Any combination of Bama wins and South Carolina losses totaling two will give the Crimson Tide its first league title since 1996. Alabama wrapped up its 10th SEC Western Division title with a sweep of Miss. State this past weekend in Tuscaloosa.
The sweep of the Bulldogs was the first by Alabama in 26 years, dating back to Coach Ron Polk's rookie season (1976) in his first tenure at MSU. Should Alabama win the SEC Championship this season, coach Wells would join Tilden "Happy" Campbell as the only two coaches in school history with two SEC titles. Campbell led the Crimson Tide to nine league titles in his 25-year career.
Alabama is one of three SEC teams to win 10 or more SEC Championships, joining LSU (12) and Miss. State (10). LSU's last SEC title came in 1997, while Miss. State has not won the league championship since 1989.
Bama's SEC Championships:1934, 1935, 1936, 1938, 1940, 1940, 1942, 1947, 1050, 1955, 1968, 1983 and 1996
Bama's SEC Western Division Championships:1950, 1955, 1957, 1958, 1968, 1973, 1974, 1981, 1996, 2002
UA has been in first place (or tied for first place) for 26 of its first 27 conference games this season, with the lone exception coming after an 8-7 loss at Georgia (11 innings) on May 4 as UA fell one-half game behind South Carolina.
UA Shooting for most Regular Season WinsAlabama needs one win this weekend at LSU to assure itself the most successful regular season in school history. The Crimson Tide enters the weekend with 44-9 overall record, tying the 1997 College World Series team with 44 regular season wins. UA matched that record this past Tuesday night with a 10-7 win over Miss Valley State in Tuscaloosa. The 1997 team posted a 44-11 regular-season worksheet. Only six Alabama teams have won 40 regular season games, with five coming in the Jim Wells era. The only other UA team to win 40 regular season games was the 1981 team (41-15-1). That team is the only UA squad to win 40 games and not make the NCAA Regionals (32-team field at that time).
Alabama's 44 victories gives the school 11 40-win seasons in history. Under Jim Wells, Alabama has won 40 or more games seven times in eight years and averages better than 45 wins per year. Wells has also directed the Crimson Tide to three 50-win seasons.
In his 13 seasons at the Division I level, Jim Wells has posted 11 40-win seasons. Wells directed Northwestern State to four 40-win seasons in five years (1990-94) and has added seven 40-win seasons here at Alabama (1995-2002).
Alabama's 44 wins ranks sixth in school history for most wins in a season. With two more wins, the 2002 squad will tie the 1983 and 1996 teams for fourth place all time with 46 wins. The school record is 56 wins set by the 1997 team.
Pseudo RPIsWhile the NCAA Division I Baseball Committee does not release its RPI (Ratings Percentage Index), Boyd Nation of Birmingham, Ala., has come up with a formula that is useful in seeing what the committee is seeing while making their choices. Nation is a 1988 graduate of Mississippi State University, currently residing in Birmingham, Alabama, with his wife and two children. Nation first released the Iterative Strength Ratings and the pseudo-RPI's in 1998. In real life, he works as an information security analyst for a large electric utility. For more information concerning the Psuedo RPIs go to his web site at www.boydsworld.com for a complete listing of all Division I baseball teams.
In the latest Psuedo RPI rankings, Alabama is 7th with a 44-9 (43-9 vs. Division I schools) overall record.
Bama has played 19 games against this week's Top 25 RPI teams. UA is 9-7 (.563) in those games.
The Crimson Tide has played 25 games against the Top 50 RPI, compiling a 14-8 (.636) record thus far. Bama plays LSU this weekend to fill out those 25 games.
The Crimson Tide will play 32 games against the nation's Top 64 RPI, posting a 21-8 (.724) record in those games with three games this weekend at LSU.
Not Quite Wire-to-WireWhen Alabama dropped an 8-7 decision at Georgia (11 innings) on May 4, it marked the first time all season the team was not in first place in the SEC this season. Through May 6, UA has been in first place or shared first place 26 of the 27 days, including the last four SEC games. The Crimson Tide holds a 1 1/2 game lead over South Carolina with three games remaining on the schedule.
Wells' teams have history of finishing strongAlabama has a history of strong finishes in the SEC during Coach Wells previous seven years. Since 1995, Alabama has averaged a 4.4 wins in its last six games under Wells. With two wins this weekend, Alabama would clinch its league-leading 14th SEC Championship.
Alabama has won five of its last six SEC games four times under Jim Wells and recorded at least four wins in its last six games five times.
The Crimson Tide has never been under the .500 mark in its last six league games since 1995.
Last year, Alabama won five of its last six SEC games to finish with a 15-15 league record and almost make the SEC Tournament after posting a 14-10 record after 24 games.
In 1999, Alabama dropped two out of three at Ole Miss only to rebound and win its last six SEC games and finish one game behind Arkansas for the SEC title.
In 2001, Alabama was swept at home by LSU, but rebounded to win five of its last six games to put itself in position to make the SEC Tournament on the final day of the season.
Two weeks ago (May 3-5), Alabama lost two out of three at Georgia, marking the third time in the last four years the Crimson Tide has lost the eighth SEC series of the year.
ALABAMA-LSU SERIESAlabama leads the all-time series with LSU, 182-128-3 (.586) in a series that dates back to the 1906 season. The two teams have met every year since 1947. LSU won the first five meetings ever played between the two schools over a two-year period from 1906-07. Alabama's first series win did not come until the 1908 season and a began a nine-game series winning streak for the Tide. The streak also propelled Alabama to an 18-1 record over the Tigers from 1908-21. Since the arrival of coach Jim Wells, Alabama has had a slight upperhand with the LSU, posting a 15-12 (.556) record. In addition, the Crimson Tide has won five of the seven series with Tigers, including a sweep of the 1999 NCAA Super Regional at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.
LSU enters the 2002 season having won seven of the last eight meetings with Alabama, including last year's sweep at Tuscaloosa. The sweep was the first by LSU at Alabama since 1988 and the first against a Wells-coached team at the Joe.
Alabama coach Jim Wells began his collegiate coaching career as a graduate assistant coach at LSU under former coach Skip Bertman. Wells spent three years in Baton Rouge (1987-89) helping the Tigers to two NCAA Regional appearances. After his stay at LSU, Wells moved on to become head coach at Northwestern State (1990-94) and then on to Alabama, where he has spent the last seven years.
Alabama has won five of the eight series with LSU since Jim Wells became head coach in 1995. The recent streak includes two series wins at Baton Rouge and three in Tuscaloosa, including a two-game sweep in the 1999 NCAA Super Regionals.
The Crimson Tide posted a pair of lopsided wins over LSU (13-6, 13-5) to claim the 1999 NCAA Super Regional and advance to the College World Series. The 1999 season marked the first year of Super Regionals in the newly expanded 64-team NCAA Tournament field.
In 1997, Alabama and LSU met three different times to determine a championship. The Tigers won the regular-season finale 6-4 in Tuscaloosa to win the outright SEC Championship. The following weekend, Alabama's 12-2 blowout in the championship game gave the Crimson Tide its third straight SEC Tournament crown. Two weeks later, LSU took home the big prize with a 13-6 win in the title game of the College World Series. It was the school's fourth national championship in the 1990s.
Alabama began it recent run of success at the 1995 SEC Tournament with two wins over LSU. The Crimson Tide posted a dramatic 9-8 win over the Tigers in the championship game to claim its first SEC Tournament title since 1983. Alabama also beat LSU 7-6 in the first round of the tournament with a solo home run by Jason Jordan. The win snapped Alabama's 10-game SEC tourney losing streak.
Alabama beat LSU three times in the 1968 to win the SEC Western Division title en route to the regular season championship and a berth in the NCAA Playoffs. Alabama took two out of three from LSU in the final regular season series at Alex Box Stadium to force a one-game playoff. The Crimson Tide won that playoff game 1-0 in Baton Rouge to claim the Western Division title. The next weekend, Alabama beat Eastern Division champion Florida to win the 1968 SEC Championship.