Wells' changes have Mississippi flavor

HOOVER, Ala --- Things are changing in the Alabama Crimson Tide baseball lineup, and a pair of Mississippi natives are key players in the moves. UA coach Jim Wells decided to start Vicksburg's Taylor Tankersley for just the third time in the lefty's freshman season, the first against SEC competition. The Tide skipper also continued a recent change in the batting order involving Sturgis' Travis Garner.

The moves paid off as Bama won its first game, 12-2 over Mississippi State in eight innings, due to the mercy rule. A record first-session crowd of 10,111 was on hand for that game. Then the new order also helped the Tide beat Florida, 7-4 yesterday and earn a much-needed day off.

"The whole plan was to get through the year and bring one of those relievers out in post-season," said Wells. "It was either going to be (Brian) Reed or Tankersley. We went with Tankersley and he did a good job. That weakens our pen, but you need another good starter for post-season."

Wells continued his new-twist lineup featuring Starkville Academy alum Garner in the leadoff spot. Scott McClanahan had been in that slot all season until Tide bats failed in Baton Rouge the season's final weekend.

Garner prepares at the plate.

"When you make a move like that and a kid answers, that makes you feel good," said Wells.

"Wherever I fit's fine," said Garner of his move up the Tide order from seventh to first. "I've led off my whole life. I think we're just trying to get a little more protection behind (Jeremy) Brown and McClanahan. I don't mind hitting up there at all."

In Alabama's opening game tournament win over the MSU Bulldogs, Garner was 2-for-5 with two RBI and a run scored.

Garner added that the Tide's plan was "to come out and play well in this tournament and then carry it on the rest of the post-season."

Garner leads the Tide with 19 stolen bases.

McClanahan has homered 13 times to lead UA, and seems a natural fit in the cleanup spot.

"He's a big, strong guy who can hit home runs." Well said of his senior centerfielder. "He has always had that ability."

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