It’s all about balance for the Alabama baseball team.
That’s what’s been missing from Brad Bohannon’s Crimson Tide squads. The third-year coach thinks he’s got the balance he needs for Alabama to be competitive in the 2020 season. The Crimson Tide officially opened practice Friday afternoon at Sewell-Thomas Stadium for its fall season.
“When you get a team together it’s important to have balance,” Bohannon said. “When we got hired you are just trying to get the best players, whether they are left-handed or right-handed or whether they can run or hit. Once you are in a program for an extended period of time you build the program the way you want. One thing I really believe in is balance. We are more balanced and that’s going to help us when we get into league play.”
The biggest noticeable difference for this year’s Crimson Tide is the pitching. There were just three lefties on the 2019 roster – Garrett Rukes, Brock Guffey and Dylan Oliver – all of who return this season. Alabama has added four more left-handers to the rotation in freshmen Connor Prielipp, Antoine Jean, Blake Bennett and Garrett Hester.
“Since I’ve been here I don’t think we’ve had more than two lefties,” senior right-handed pitcher Kyle Cameron, a former Hale County player. “We have (seven) left-handers this year. All of them are talented and should play a pretty good role because we’ve been short-handed.”
Alabama finished 30-26 with a 7-23 league record and missed the SEC Tournament. Now that Bohannon has been at Alabama for a few years this season should be much better now that he’s got some of his pieces in place. He spoke highly of the freshman class, including infielders Jim Jarvis and Zane Denton, Myles Austin as well as Prielipp.
“When you bring in a group, usually there is a couple that struggle adjusting to college or dealing with failure or whatever and you get into it for a couple of months and there are a couple that aren’t who you thought they were,” Bohannon said. “To this point I’d say there are two or three that are better than I thought. Their intangibles exceed their physical ability. They love to play. They are the right guys.
The first day of practice had its ups and downs, but Bohannon said he felt the energy level was perfect, particularly on a hot, muggy day in September.
“One thing I’m impressed with is this group loves to play and love to practice,” he said. “That’s energizing as a coach to have kids working like that. We have a collection of kids that are really serious about baseball and they really want to win.
“From top to bottom we are more physical and more athletic. Collectively, I think our older kids are just sick of losing. I can feel it, and I feel the same way. When you have an athletic group that is really determined to get better it’s fun to come to the field.”
Reach Edwin Stanton at 205-722-0226, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter, edwinstantonu2