Alabama is 5-0 and has an important test when the Tide hosts the Georgia Bulldogs at Regions Park in Hoover at 6:35 p.m. CST Wednesday. Although both Alabama and Georgia are Southeastern Conference teams, this is an extra game that does not count in SEC standings.
That doesn't mean it isn't an important game.
First-year Bama Coach Mitch Gaspard said, ""I think for both of us, it kind of stacks you up in the SEC. I think it gives our players a chance to see what SEC baseball is all about in a game in the middle of the week, where maybe the pitching-wise it may not see SEC starters and getting some young guys some opportunities to play at a high level."
Tickets of the Alabama-Georgia game may be purchased through the Athletic Ticket Office (1-877-TIDETIX or 205.348.2262) or on-line (www.RollTide.com
This weekend, Alabama will make its first true road trip of the season. Although Bama played against South Alabama in Mobile earlier, that was a one-day trip. This weekend Alabama will go to the College of Charleston for games Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
"Going on the road is part of the process," Gaspard said. "How we are going to travel, the hotel, the pregame meals, and all of that is in preparation for the game so when we get there we keep our same focus. We really try and detail it out for every minute of the day so guys know exactly what we're doing and we're confident in what we're doing each day. This is the first step to a weekend road series and hopefully our guys will stay on the course and our guys will stay confident with what we are doing."
It is, of course, more than just a trip. Gaspard said that College of Charleston would provide good competition.
"The College of Charleston has always been a very good offensive team," Gaspard said. "They play in a small ballpark. They have been close to the top (NCAA leaders) in home runs every year. So obviously for us, we've got to pitch extremely well and really locate and to have all of our pitches that day. From an offensive standpoint it's not going to change what we do a whole lot. I think a lot of it is being on the road the first time and staying in a good rhythm when you are not at home."
The Alabama coaching staff has selected junior catcher Brock Bennett and junior right-hander Jimmy Nelson as players of the week, following the Crimson Tide's three-game sweep of Illinois-Chicago this past weekend in Tuscaloosa.
Bennett played in all three games against the Flames and hit .667 (4-for-6) with six runs scored and two RBI. He made his first career start in the Tide's 25-1 win on Saturday and responded with a 4-for-5 performance with four runs scored and two RBI. He also threw out one base runner.
"He was obviously the sparkplug," Gaspard said. "He is a guy that the team rallies around. Prior to Saturday, he had caught extremely well in the back end of games. He runs the bases extremely well. Saturday was a great start for him and to go out and go 4-for-5 in your first start at Alabama was something."
Nelson earned his first win of the season, limiting the Flames to one run and five hits in five innings of work. He added six strikeouts and no walks. He held UIC hitless for the first three innings and combined with Taylor Wolfe and Trey Pilkington for the Tide's first one-hitter since 2001.
"I thought Jimmy was dominant and that was good to see," Gaspard continued. "That was two (good outings) in a row for him. He has taken into the season the things he was doing in the fall and spring. Jimmy is a guy that I think will get better and better as the season goes along."