2006 Squad Makes History

"I'll take them diamonds."

SEC Tournament Bracket
Box Score

That's what Alabama freshman pitcher Tommy Hunter told the CSS television crew after Southeastern Conference-title clinching, but just missing a shutout of the Tennessee Vols after he allowed a ninth-inning solo shot. For Alabama, the SEC title is the 14th, more than any other team in the conference.

LSU ranks second with 13 league titles. Florida and Miss. State are the only other two schools with 10 or more SEC titles. Alabama's SEC Championships have come in 1934, 1935, 1936, 1938, 1940, 1941, 1942, 1947, 1950, 1955, 1968, 1983, 1996 and 2006.

Alabama joined Florida as the only two schools to win baseball and softball championships in the same season. Florida won the baseball and softball titles in 1998.

Hunter and his teammates will pick up diamond-studded SEC championship rings, the first time an Alabama team has earned the honor since 1996 after Saturday's 5-1 win over Tennessee to complete a sweep. Hunter picked up his ninth win of the year, a freshman UA record, and recorded his third complete game.

"He dominated the game," Alabama Coach Jim Wells said. "He was really fired up all day, like he was going to play a football game. I had to calm him down. He did a great job. He is as good a freshman as you'll ever see."

The Crimson Tide baseball team made up two games on co-champion Kentucky in the final weekend of regular season play to share the title with the Wildcats. Alabama completed a sweep of Tennessee with a 5-1 victory on Sunday, while Kentucky dropped two of three at Georgia in Athens. Georgia had a whale of a finish in its own right, winning 13 of its last 14 regular season games and earning the third seed in the SEC tournament.

Jim Wells called the 2006 Alabama team the, "best group I believe we've ever had."

"This is the most amazing thing that I have ever been a part of," Wells said. "If you had to put your finger on one thing, we have always had good starting pitching. We just have a lot of blue collar guys. Matt Downs developed into a fine hitter this year and was a great leader. Pennington had an excellent year and got better this year after three years of football."

Pennington and Downs had eighth-inning home runs to stretch Bama's lead from 2-0 to 5-0. Tennessee got a two-out run in the ninth off a solo home run, but never threatened a comeback.

Alabama will play LSU in Hoover at 5 p.m. on Wednesday in the opening round of the SEC tournament. No. 7 seed South Carolina will play Kentucky at 10 a.m., and No. 6 Vanderbilt will play Georgia at 1 p.m. Arkansas and Ole Miss will meet in the 4-5 game at 8 p.m. Wednesday night.

"We started playing well about five games ago so hopefully we will have some momentum going into the sec tournament and the (NCAA) Regionals."

The Alabama win likely cemented a host spot for the Tide in the NCAA Regional, and made a top-eight national seed, which would mean a super regional hosting bid, more likely.

The SEC tournament will follow an eight-team double elimination tournament that is modeled after the College World Series. Tickets for the 2006 tournament are $100 for reserved box seats, $17 for a single-game reserved seat, $60 for a Dr Pepper Six-Pack general admission book, and $12 for a single-game general admission.


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