Formula for Bama Is to Win

The formula for the Alabama baseball team to get into the Southeastern Conference Tournament really isn't all that complicated: win against Mississippi State and you're in.

Simple, right?

Or, more precisely sweep all three games on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and you're in with no assistance needed from any other teams.

Or, win two out of three against Mississippi State and have Vanderbilt take at least one game from LSU or Auburn take at least one game from Kentucky, and you're in.

Or, win just one out of three against State, and root really hard for either Vanderbilt or Auburn to win their respective series, and you're in.

Or, lose all three against Mississippi State, and become drooling Vanderbilt, Auburn and Florida fans. In that scenario Alabama would need two of the three things to happen: An Auburn sweep of Kentucky, a Vanderbilt sweep of LSU, a Florida series win over Tennessee.

Still with me?

"The only thing we can do as a staff and a team is concentrate on playing well and winning," Alabama head coach Jim Wells said. "You're not really in control of it, unless I guess you can win all three. My mindset is play well like you did last weekend and win. I guess we might need some help and each day will make it clearer. All I know is that we need to win. "

The Crimson Tide is currently seventh in the league standings, a half game ahead of both Kentucky and LSU. Winning two out of three last weekend against SEC Western Division leader Arkansas kept Bama in that good position.

"I never look at it until the last week or two," Jim Wells said. "We need to know what we need to do to put ourselves in the best position. It's easy to throw out numbers but you have to go out and play nine innings and play well, you just need to win."

The squad will make the hour and a half drive to Starkville, Mississippi, on Thursday instead of going over a day early, but nothing else will change the Tide's routine because of the series moving up one day.

"The only thing we're doing different is we're not going the day before and practicing, and sitting in the motel for 24 hours," Wells said.

Sophomore Tommy Hunter is scheduled to start game one, Miers Quigley should start game two, and Alabama's recent godsend, pitcher Will Stroup, will start game three.

"We have one less day but I don't think that affects anybody," Wells said. "I've seen pitchers be better" in a week with a shorter turnaround.

More perilous than making the SEC tournament are the Tide's NCAA tournament hopes. Alabama is 29-23 overall, and 13-14 in the Southeastern Conference. A Wednesday morning update of college baseball RPIs on the Boyd's World web site has Alabama at No. 62 in the RPI, ahead of only Georgia among Southeastern Conference teams.

Without at least two wins against Mississippi State, who is ranked 18th in the RPI, Alabama would most likely need to win the Southeastern Conference Tournament to make the NCAA field.

"That will be the next thing, next week," Wells said. "We have to win when we get there.

Right fielder Kent Matthes was unable to practice on Wednesday, and is questionable for this weekend's series. Alabama has had steady fill-ins for Matthes, however, with Elvin Vargas, Tyler Odle and Del Howell.

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