The defending SEC Western Division Champions and SEC Tournament Champions will begin individual work on Wednesday, Jan. 8 and will continue with individual workouts through Jan. 19th. The first day of practice involving the entire squad will be Monday, Jan. 20, 2003
"We are looking forward to the beginning of practice," Jim Wells, the 2002 SEC Coach of the Year, said. "We will begin individual workouts Wednesday and then team work Jan. 20. That leaves us about three weeks to get ready of the season."
The Crimson Tide will open the season Friday, Feb. 14 against the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns in the first-round of the 2003 Astros College Classic at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas. The Crimson Tide will play the No.5 ranks Houston Cougars on Feb. 15 and No. 2 Rice Owls on Feb. 16 in the three-day, round-robin event. All three Alabama games will be played at 11 a.m. (CT).
The Crimson Tide also welcome two newcomers to the baseball team with the beginning of classes as junior first baseman Nathan Meiners (6-0, 200) and junior outfielder Brad Van Winkle (5-10, 185) enrolled for the spring semester.
Meiners played the last two seasons at Delgado Community College in New Orleans for legendary skipper Joe Schuermann. In those two seasons, Meiners started 89 games and batted .383 (106-for-277) with five home runs and 62 RBI. In addition, he added 71 runs scored, 24 doubles, three triples, 51 walks, 11 sac flies and eight stolen bases.
As a sophomore (2002), Meiners batted .394 (67-for-170) with four home run and 41 RBI en route to being named Third-Team NJCAA All-American. He led Delgado (43-11) to the Miss-Lou Conference Championship and the No. 1 seed in the Region 23 tournament.
Van Winkle spent the last two years at Sacramento City Community College, one of the top junior college programs in California. As a sophomore, he batted .350 (43-for-123) with six home runs and 27 RBI in 34 games. Van Winkle led Sac City in home runs, triples and runs scored last year.
As a freshman, he led the Panthers to the Bay Valley East Conference Championship and berth in the California State Playoffs, where they lost the best-of-three championship series to Riverside JC. The 2001 Bay Valley East Conference was the school's fourth in-a-row and sixth in the past seven years, dating back to 1995.