Tide Hears Monday On Baseball Future

Late Saturday, everything seemed to be falling into place for a magnificent Sunday of ball. The Alabama men's baseball team was in the finals of the Southeastern Conference championship at nearby Regions Park in Hoover, and the Crimson Tide softball team was playing the final game of the NCAA Super Regional to go to the Women's College World Series.

Things didn't go as hoped. The Alabama baseball team lost 4-3 in an 11-inning heart-breaker to LSU, while the Crimson Tide softball squad fell to Hawaii, 5-4, when the Tide was an out away from advancing.

The season is over for the women, who nevertheless had a very successful season. In what was clearly a rebuilding year for Coach Patrick Murphy's Crimson Tide with seven new starters, Bama spent virtually the entire season ranked in the nation's top ten, including a time at number one, and was the number one seed in the NCAA Tournament. True, in some ways that makes the Sunday loss more painful, but look for Bama to be strong again in 2011.

Meanwhile, who would have dreamed that the Crimson Tide baseball team would be playing longer than the Bama softball team. Just a couple of weeks ago, the odds against Alabama even making the SEC Tournament were not good.

On Monday, Coach Mitch Gaspard and his team will gather to watch the 2010 NCAA Division I Baseball selection show. The show will be televised live by ESPN beginning at 11:30 a.m. CDT. There is virtually no doubt that Bama's season will continue.

Although Alabama had its eight-game winning streak snapped by LSU Sunday, Bama has improved to 37-22 on the season. Additionally, Bama's record has been forged against one of the nation's toughest schedules.

Alabama is now 7-1 in SEC Tournament championship games. The Crimson Tide falls to 3-1 in SEC championship games against LSU, after beating the Tigers to win the title in 1995, 1997 and 2003.

Junior RHP Jimmy Nelson, junior catcher Brock Bennett and senior third baseman Jake Smith were named to the All-Tournament Team. Nelson allowed one earned run in 11 innings (0.82 ERA) against Auburn and LSU. Bennett hit .333 (5-for-15) and threw both attempted base stealers. Smith had five and five RBI in the four games and earned a save on the mound against Mississippi.

The 2010 SEC Championship Game attendance was 13,327 and the total attendance for the 13-game tournament was 126,071, a new SEC postseason record. The previous record was 124,440 at the 2002 SEC Tournament. Alabama played four games at this year's tournament and played in front of 49,563 fans, including a session one record 12,514 for the Alabama-Auburn game.

Alabama (7) and LSU (10) have won 17 of the 34 SEC titles since the tournament's inception in 1977.

The SEC Championship Game had two weather delays that totaled two hours and 27 minutes. There was an 80-minute delay at the end of the fourth inning and a 67-delay in the middle of the ninth inning.

Sophomore left fielder Jon Kelton went 1-for-4 with one run scored against LSU to extend his hitting streak to seven games. He is batting .409 (9-for-22) during his career-high hitting streak with four runs scored, two extra base hits and two RBI.

Sophomore center fielder Taylor Dugas, a Louisiana native, went 0-for-5 against LSU and had his 47-game on-base streak snapped. He has reached base safely in 57 of 59 games this year.

Junior second baseman Ross Wilson, who lives in Hoover where the tournament was played, and freshman right fielder Andrew Miller each had two hits in the championship game.

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