Look for McCarter to Start

Jake McCarter is the likely Wednesday starter for top-seeded Alabama (39-17) on Wednesday when the Tide opens SEC Tournament play against eighth-seed LSU at 5 p.m. at the Hoover Met.

The Crimson Tide has compiled a 35-26 all-time record at the SEC Tournament since 1977, and is 31-10 in SEC tourney games under coach Jim Wells, including six tourney titles (1995, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2002 and 2003). Bama is 23-8 in SEC tourney games at the Hoover Met, with four championships there.

No announcement has been made, but Alabama Coach Jim Wells flirted with giving McCarter the Thursday night start last week in the series opener against Tennessee, but he stuck with Bernard Robert in the weekend rotation in a move that proved to be fortuitous.

Wells will meet with members of the media Monday afternoon to discuss tournament plans.

McCarter warmed up in the bullpen Saturday as freshman Tommy Hunter's complete game bid hung in the balance, but Hunter was able to go the distance and McCarter was spared. Unless Wells opts to bring Robert or another starter up a day early for the second week in a row, McCarter should get the start Wednesday with Jordan Davis, David Robertson, Patrick Kelly and Josh Copeland among those available in the bullpen.

If Alabama were fortunate enough to win its first game the second game, the Tide would play at 8 p.m. on Thursday, with Robert or LeBlanc likely to pitch. If Bama loses game one, the Thursday game will be at 1 p.m. Tommy Hunter is the likely starter in a third or fourth tournament game, should Alabama go that far.

In his best performance in more than a month, LeBlanc held UT to one earned run and seven hits in seven-plus innings as the Crimson Tide captured its 12th SEC Western Division championship, improving to 9-0 to become the first UA pitcher since Dennis Walsh (1991) to win his first nine decisions on the mound.

It's doubtful that any of the Alabama pitchers will get a full week off during the tournament unless Bama is eliminated quickly, but the pitchers will be used with the NCAA Regional tournament to follow in mind. Alabama is in prime position to host a regional, and is also a candidate for a super regional hosting bid.

Starting the tournament with two straight wins would give the Tide an off day on Friday of the College World Series formatted tournament.


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