It’s still just a week into the University of Alabama’s baseball season, but some of the early returns look encouraging for the Crimson Tide (3-1).
Alabama’s offense has scored 27 runs in its first four games and posted double-digit hits in all four games. The latter hasn’t happened in four consecutive games for Alabama since May 2015.
“Our assistant coaches, Coach Wells and Coach Simmons, they did a great job with us yesterday,” shortstop Chandler Avant said on Wednesday. “They’re always on top of everything. It’s great having them with us and they’re right behind us, supporting us.”
Assistant coach Jake Wells serves as hitting coach and volunteer assistant Derek Simmons also works with hitters. Players mentioned both as important factors in preparation leading into games with scouting reports.
They’ll be tasked with getting the lineup ready for a three-game series against Oral Roberts (3-1) this weekend. The Golden Eagles enter the series with a 4.27 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 40 innings so far this season.
A handful of standouts have started to emerge even as the lineup has shuffled from game to game. Sophomore right fielder Chandler Taylor has three home runs and seven RBIs. First baseman Hunter Alexander is batting .571 with two home runs and five RBIs. Second baseman Cobie Vance is batting .529 with four RBIs.
Alexander is a newcomer, while Taylor and Vance were both everyday starters as freshmen in 2016. Vance hit .258 in 2015, and the offense requires a different approach from him this season. On Wednesday, he dropped down a bunt to load the bases in the first inning even though he was batting third and there were no outs.
“We just really rely on each other,” he said. “It’s really like a pack mentality.”
Alabama has used a different lineup in each of its first four games, but Vance is part of a core that has started all four. The offense may not be set yet, but he’s shown he’ll be a part of it.
“Cobie is a guy that’s not afraid, and he practices that way,” head coach Greg Goff said. “He’s a tremendous player but also a tremendous person. I just can’t say enough about his work ethic and what he means to our team … There’s nobody else that I’d rather have up there than that guy. He’s got a lot of courage and confidence in himself.”