Smith Seems To Be Coming Around

Alabama's difficult baseball task is to finish in one of the top eight spots in the 12-team Southeastern Conference and make it to the SEC Tournament in Hoover. Alabama has nine games remaining and an estimate is that the Tide needs to win five of them to make the top eight.



Although Alabama does not have a great record, the Crimson Tide has played a difficult schedule and the RPI rating will probably get Bama into the NCAA Tournament if -- make that IF -- the Tide can make the SEC Tournament.

The first three of those nine remaining conference games is a difficult one. Alabama (28-17, 9-12 SEC) will host the Florida Gators (31-11, 15-6 SEC) in games at 6:30 p.m. CDT Friday, at 3 p.m. Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.

Bama will be handicapped by the loss of second baseman Ross Wilson, who suffered a hand injury in last weekend's series at South Carolina. He'll be out for a couple of weeks.

On the plus side, third baseman/relief pitcher Jake Smith has shown signs of coming out of his long slump. Smith was one of four players selected by Coach Mitch Gaspard and his staff as an Alabama player of the week.

Smith played in all five games last week as the starting third baseman and relief pitcher.  At the plate, he hit .263 (5-for-19) with two home runs and three RBI.  He also scored three runs. He hit safely in all five games and is now riding a 15-game hitting streak. On the mound, he made two relief appearances and recorded one save and one hold for the Tide against Mississippi Valley State (April 28) and South Carolina (May 1).  He retired all 10 batters he faced and struck out seven.  He stranded all three inherited runners against MVSU on April 28 to preserve UA's 2-1 lead in the seventh inning.

Gaspard said, "Smith had two big home runs, but I thought he pitched really well in his two relief outings.  He came in and got out of a couple of tough situations."

The Alabama baseball coaching staff also selected senior first baseman Clay Jones, junior designated hitter David Kindred,and sophomore left-hand pitcher Adam Morgan and senior third baseman Jake Smith as its players of the week.  

"I thought we had a really good week offensively, especially against South Carolina, who has one of the top pitching staffs in the SEC," Gaspard said.  "Jones and Kindred both had a great week at the plate.  Jones hit four home runs and Kindred continues to give us big hits. 

  "Morgan pitched very well against South Carolina and matched up well against (USC starter) Sam Dyson, who is a first round draft pick.  I thought Morgan's key was his command.  It was a good outing for him."  

Jones hit .429 (9-for-21) in five games last week with four home runs and nine RBI.  He compiled a 1.095 slugging percentage and added six runs scored and two doubles.  He homered in three of the five games, including two home runs against Mississippi Valley State on April 27..  

Kindred hit .421 (8-for-19) for the week with one home run and three RBI in four games. He also added three doubles, scored three runs and compiled a .727 slugging mark. He had a career-high three hits on May 2 at South Carolina and finished the week with three multi-hit games.

  Morgan pitched the Crimson Tide to a 6-4 win over No. 3 South Carolina on Saturday, May 1. The Marietta, Ga., native pitched into the eighth inning and allowed four runs and eight hits with eight strikeouts and two walks for his first win since April 2.  He left the game with one out in the eighth inning following Christian Walker's two-run home run that closed the UA lead to 5-4.  After allowing a double to Parker Bangs in the first inning, Morgan retired the next five USC hitters.  He then retired 12 of 13 batters he faced from the third through the seventh innings. South Carolina's six left-hand hitters were a collective 0-for-14 in the loss.

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