Senior Day does not always look like a freshman might have thought of four years before.
Senior right-hander Sam Finnerty spent most of his freshman season as an outfielder in 2016. He thought he was more likely to be batting cleanup than to be Alabama’s Friday night starter.
“I was just coming here to throw innings every now and then,” Finnerty said. “I wanted to be a position player at that time in my life. Just goes to show how much you can change when you get to college.”
Graduate transfer Jeremy Randolph, who arrived this year after four years at Wright State, would not have had Alabama on his radar as a college freshman. Joe Breaux started his career at a Texas junior college. Senior outfielder Keith Holcombe didn’t play baseball in his first spring on campus, when he was an inside linebacker for the football team.
Alabama vs. No. 17 Texas A&M
Schedule: Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 6 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m.
Where: Sewell-Thomas Stadium
Records: Alabama 27-21 (6-18 SEC), LSU 32-17-1 (12-11-1 SEC)
Radio: 102.9 FM
TV: SEC Network (Sunday only)
Those four players will be recognized before Saturday’s game against Texas A&M in their final home series.
“It’s the end of a chapter,” Holcombe said. “Some people think like that. It’s been a ride for sure and I wouldn’t trade a decision or anything I’ve gone through these last four or five years for anything. It’s something that looking back 10, 20 years down the road, I’m going to be proud of whatever I did and it’s something that I’m going to share with my grandkids and my kids one day.”
All four have been key players for Alabama. Finnerty has started every Friday game for the last two seasons. Holcombe has started 87 games in the last two seasons; Breaux has started 92. Randolph is Alabama’s closer this season with eight saves. He’s also been a spot starter on Sundays when available.
Alabama’s seniors also might not have imagined the Crimson Tide sitting at 6-18 in SEC play when their final home series begins. With two weekends left, Alabama is in a close competition with Kentucky and South Carolina for the final spot in the SEC tournament.
“At the beginning of the year, Hoover was almost expected,” Finnerty said. “I thought we had a good enough team where we were going to be in contention for a regional.”
Alabama missed the conference tournament and finished last in the conference in 2017 and 2018. In 2016 – the freshman season for Holcombe and Finnerty – Alabama narrowly missed reaching the NCAA tournament. Coach Mitch Gaspard resigned after that season. His replacement, Greg Goff, was fired after one season before Brad Bohannon arrived. All that happened with Alabama’s seniors continuing their careers.
“This year and the past few years, it just hasn’t been great,” Bohannon said. “The amount of respect that I have for Keith and Sam and Joe and Randolph and some of the older juniors to work and compete so diligently when it’s not going great, just speaks to the person that you are. It means so much more than winning and losing ball games. Just tremendous, tremendous respect for these guys and the other older kids and how they’ve conducted themselves in the time that I’ve been here. That’s part of the reason why I think we have a really good foundation going forward.”
The program will keep moving forward without the four seniors once this season ends.
Holcombe said he still has things he wants to accomplish as the season concludes, but is happy with what he’s done so far. There’s also things he hopes the program accomplishes even once his college career is over.
“I have the most respect for this man to my left (Bohannon) and I honestly believe with all my heart that he’s going to change this program,” Holcombe said. “I can’t wait, in a couple years to be watching TV and coming back here, seeing the banners fly and seeing this program the way it should be.”
Reach Ben Jones at email@example.com or 205-722-0196.