There’s one final weekend series, and one final Friday night ace for the University of Alabama baseball team to face.
The series is at Vanderbilt. The ace is junior right hander Kyle Wright, the No. 5 prospect in college baseball as ranked by Baseball America.
“His velocity is in the mid-90s. He can pitch on both sides of the plate,” head coach Greg Goff said. “His breaking ball is good. He’s a first rounder. What I saw on video is just a really competitive kid. When you add all those together, he’s pretty good.”
Wright is just 3-5 this year, but has a 3.05 earned run average and 93 strikeouts in 82 1/3 innings. Opponents are hitting .206 against him. He’ll pitch on Friday against Alabama ace Jake Walters in the second game of the series as the Commodores prepare their pitching staff for the SEC tournament next week. Alabama has been eliminated from contention for the 12 spots in the SEC tournament.
Freshman righty Deacon Medders, an ACA alum, will pitch the series opener on Thursday night for Alabama. He has pitched out of the bullpen and made five midweek starts for the Crimson Tide this season.
Wright will make the ninth pitcher ranked in Baseball America’s preseason top 100 to start against Alabama in SEC play this season. That’s part of the challenge of playing in the SEC, and part of the adjustment Goff has had to make in his first season.
“I think there are 10 teams in this league that deserve a chance to get into an (NCAA tournament) regional,” he said. “I really do. I’ve been really impressed. The biggest thing that jumps out to me is the amount of arms that we’ve faced, every weekend.”
Even with no chance of reaching the postseason, Goff said he didn’t expect to make many changes in the final weekend of the season. He may find an opportunity here and there for younger players to gain experience, but his first goal is to win as many games as possible.
The postseason isn’t there this year. But Alabama isn’t looking at next year just yet.
“We have to build this thing little by little, day by day, recruit by recruit,” he said. “The experience of playing in the postseason is something that’s going to happen. First year at Louisiana Tech we didn’t play in the postseason. Year two we played in a regional and played for a regional championship. We’ve got a plan. I just hate it for these four seniors that have been through here. For me, our job this week is to finish this journey together and go out, try to win three games against Vanderbilt.”
Reach Ben Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org or 205-722-0196.