There are easier midweek matchups in college baseball than Alabama’s game against Southern Miss on Wednesday night. But those games might not be as valuable.
The Golden Eagles are the first ranked opponent Alabama has faced this season. It’s another step up in competition after the Crimson Tide played a series at Oklahoma over the weekend.
Alabama vs. No. 15 Southern Miss
Schedule: Wednesday at 6:00 p.m.
Where: Sewell-Thomas Stadium
Records: Alabama 10-2, Southern Miss 8-3
Radio: 102.9 FM
“I believe in playing a good schedule,” coach Brad Bohannon said. “We lost two out of three this weekend but I think we grew more as a team and learned more about our team this weekend than we did in the previous couple of weekends. When you win a game 12-3 and talking to the kids afterward, ‘Hey, you’ve got to get better at this and this and this,’ they kind of look at you like you have three heads. If you lose a tie game or you get your butt kicked, they’re a lot more coachable.”
The results this weekend ran the gamut: Alabama lost in extra innings on Friday, was hammered 16-4 on Saturday but rebounded to smash the Sooners 13-1 on Sunday.
“We learned that we’re a better team than we thought we were, and we can still get beat,” first baseman Cody Henry said.
Southern Miss has made the NCAA tournament in back-to-back seasons. It swept Mississippi State to open the season and boasts one of the nation’s best offenses. That has the attention of the pitching staff. Redshirt freshman Garret Rukes is scheduled to start on Wednesday.
“Our goal is to get ahead in the count,” junior lefty Dylan Duarte said. “In the first three pitches of the at-bat, get guys on or out. Obviously, these guys coming in can hit.”
Alabama has lost four of its last five midweek games against Southern Miss dating back to the 2014 season. The Crimson Tide won 12-5 in Tuscaloosa last spring.
The Golden Eagles will be a test for Alabama again this season before SEC play begins in less than two weeks.
“I think we’ll be a better team (Wednesday) night after the game whether we win or lose,” Bohannon said.
Reach Ben Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org or 205-722-0196.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Alabama had lost five straight games against Southern Miss. Alabama beat Southern Miss 12-5 in 2017.