The Crimson Tide will begin individual workouts next week and the full squad fall practice will get underway Monday, Sept. 16. The team will work for four weeks and hold intra-sqaud games each weekend, beginning Friday, Sept. 20.
Alabama returns a number of starters from last year's team that won the SEC Tournament Championship and finished runner up to Florida Atlantic at the 2002 Tuscaloosa Regional.
Junior Peter Stonard, the 2002 Cape Cod Baseball League Most Valuable Player, will likely return to the outfield this season in centerfield. Stonard played right field and second base for the Crimson Tide last season and batted .411 (97-for-236) with five home runs and 42 RBI.
Stonard, rated as the Cape Cod Baseball League's 9th best prospect, led the CCBL with a .348 batting average this summer, while playing for the Cotuit Kettleers. He was also the starting centerfielder for the Western Division in the Cape Cod League All-Star Game at Hyannis, Mass., and was also named to the CCBL Summer All-Star Team. Stonard also earned the Thurman Munson Award, presented to the player with the highest batting average.
The Crimson Tide also returns senior designated hitter Beau Hearod (.335, 12 HR, 54 RBI), senior right fielder Travis Garner (.323, 6 HR, 31 RBI, 26-30 SB), senior outfielder Grant Redding (.421, 2 HR, 18 RBI), junior infielder Adam Pavkovich (.272, 6 HR, 31 RBI), junior outfielders Gabe Scott (.381, 8 RBI) and Chad White (.330, 17 RBI) and sophomore infielders Allen Rice (.247, 18 RBI), Carlos Sosa (.269, HR, 16 RBI) and Zac Welch (.229, HR, 14 RBI).
The Crimson Tide also returns and a deep and talented pitching staff, anchored by sophomore left-hander Taylor Tankersley, who was a consensus Freshman All-American last year. In 25 games, Tankersley posted an 8-5 record with a 2.62 ERA and seven saves. The eight wins tied an Alabama freshman record set previously by B.J. Green (1998) and Scott Murphy (1999).
Tankersley also played in the Cape Cod League this summer, posting six wins for the Brewster Whitecaps. The left-hander led the league with six wins and ranked eighth in the league with a 1.41 ERA. Tankersley was selected to play for the Eastern Division in CCBL All-Star Game in Hyannis, Mass. The lefty was also named to the CCBL Summer All-Star Team at the post-season awards banquet.
Other returnees on the mound include senior closer Brian Reed (27 G, 5-0, 1.75 ERA, 9 Saves), sophomore left-hander Brent Carter (2-0, 3.31 ERA, 2 Saves), junior left-hander Jeffrey Norris (14 G, 6-1, 3.34 ERA), junior right-hander Jared Woodward (23 G, 6-1, 4.52 ERA) and sophomore right-hander Eric Mennen (9 G, 2-0, 4.66 ERA).
ALABAMA SIGNS JUCO CATCHER
Bobby Burns, a native of Herriman, Utah, has joined the Alabama team and will be the leading candidate to replace Jeremy Brown as the Crimson Tide's catcher this season. Burns (6-0, 190) played the last two years at Dixie State College in St. George, Utah.
Burns, who was born in Pocatella, Idaho, played in 91 games in his two-year career at Dixie State College, where he batted .324 (81-for-250) with three home runs and 40 RBI. The 22-year old also tallied 49 runs, 16 doubles, two triples and 42 walks in his career.
As a sophomore (2002), Burns played in 54 games and batted .318 (50-for-157) with one home run and 23 RBI. He added 31 runs, 11 doubles and walked 24 times. Defensively, he committed only two errors in 372 total chances (.995) behind the plate. As a freshman (1999), Burns appeared in 37 games and posted a .333 (31-for-93) batting average with three home runs and 17 RBI. The right-hander added 18 runs, five doubles, two triples and 18 walks. He had five errors in 259 chances (.985) as a rookie.
In addition, Burns was a Second-Team All-SWAC (Scenic West Athletic Conference) selection following his sophomore season, after leading Dixie State College to a 46-10 overall record and a No. 1 final regular season ranking among NJCAA Division I schools.
He was a junior college teammate of Seth Johnson (RHP), who signed with Alabama this summer.
Burns did not play baseball in 2000 or 2001 while serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints in Birmingham, England.
Alabama Baseball Notebook:
Alabama's fall practice will begin Monday, Sept. 16 and continue through Sunday, Oct. 13 with the final scrimmage of the fall session. Alabama will scrimmage each Friday, Saturday and Sunday beginning, Friday, Sept. 20. The scrimmage dates are scheduled for the following weekends.
September 20, 21, 22
September 27, 28, 29
October 4, 5, 6
October 11, 12, 13
Baseball America recently tabbed the nation's best recruiting classes and top 100 high school players through its Baseball America Prospects Plus edition. Alabama's incoming class was rated as the sixth best in the nation, according to this service. Arizona State, Texas, Georgia Tech, LSU and Florida State comprised the Top 5 recruiting classes, according to Baseball America.
The Crimson Tide had four of its signees rated among the nation's Top 100 High School prospects, according to Baseball America. Alabama signees rated in the top 100 included catcher Brian McCann (26), RHP Allen Ponder (28) and infielders Billy Hogan (59) and Evan Bush (71). McCann was a second-round draft pick by the Atlanta Braves and signed with the Braves this summer. Ponder, Hogan and Bush have enrolled in school and will be on the Alabama roster this spring. Ponder, a native of Auburn, was tabbed "Mr. Baseball" by the Alabama Sports Writers Association this year. He was also the AISA Player of the Year. Hogan was named to the Class 5A All-State squad by the Texas Sports Writers Association this year. Bush,a native of Gadsden and graduate of Southside High School, was the ASWA Class 5A Player of the Year.
Alabama will open the 2003 season at the Houston Astros College Classic Feb. 14-16 at Minute Maid Park in Houston. The three-day tournament schedule for the Crimson Tide includes Louisiana-Lafayette (Feb. 14, 11 a.m.), Texas A&M (Feb. 15, 3 p.m) and Rice (Feb. 16, Noon). Rice played in the 2002 College World Series and returns a number of all-star players from last year's club that won more than 50 games before losing to Texas and Notre Dame at the CWS. The remainder of the UA schedule will be available in September.