Is Bama Deserving?

Does the Alabama baseball team deserve to make the NCAA tournament?

It depends on which Alabama team you're talking about.

"The way we played the last two games, no," Tide sophomore Alex Avila said. "The way we played the last half of the season, yes."

Unfortunately for Alabama, the team that showed up in Hoover the last few days has been more indicative of how the season has gone than the other one. Alabama overcame a pitching shortage, a catching quandary and sporadic-at-best hitting to win three of its last four SEC series.

But like a bed sheet that's barely large enough to cover the mattress when fully stretched, Alabama has had an almost impossible task in masking all its deficiencies for an extended period.

"Throughout the year we've had a lot of different things happen," Alabama Coach Jim Wells said. "This time we couldn't hit over a two-game period and it's frustrating."

After Alabama's 3-2 loss against Florida in the Southeastern Conference Tournament Thursday morning, dropping the Crimson Tide to a 31-26 record, Wells knows nothing he says now will be able to convince the selection committee like a couple of wins in Hoover would have done.

"You usually earn it on the field," he said when asked to make his team's case. "You don't need to be pleading for it. If you play well enough you get in. If you don't it's in the hands of other people.

"I don't really know what to say right now to be honest with you. I'd have to give that some thought."

Alabama was ranked 59th in RPI Thursday morning, according to Boyd's World, Alabama finished seventh in the highest RPI conference in the nation (tied with the ACC), but Florida, who finished ahead of Alabama, won't be eligible for the NCAA field unless it wins on Friday.

Alabama finished .500 in the conference at 15-15 and had a win over top-ranked Vanderbilt, and series wins over ranked opponents, South Carolina, Arkansas and Mississippi State. The Tide also lost a game to Villanova, two to Samford and one to Tennessee Tech.

"We felt like we needed to make it to Saturday," right fielder Kent Matthes said. "We really didn't give it a run."

Instead, Alabama is in the uncomfortable situation of sitting and waiting for Monday's 11:30 a.m. NCAA selection show having already blown its chance to solidify a spot in the tournament.

"We're a team that can beat Vanderbilt, and we can also lose to Samford," Matthes said. "I'm afraid the committee will give more weight to the second part of that. Hopefully they will give us a chance to go upset somebody."

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