Defense behind the plate has been one of the biggest sources of improvement for Alabama baseball this season.

The Crimson Tide allowed 56 stolen bases on 74 attempts last season (75.7 percent). That was the second worst rate in the league and the second most steals allowed by an SEC team last season. Alabama also had 21 passed balls, the most in the SEC, and set a new school record with 88 wild pitches.

All of those numbers have improved markedly this spring. The team has 20 total wild pitches more than halfway through the regular season, good for third in the conference. Alabama is also tied for the SEC lead with just three passed balls. Freshman Sam Praytor, the Crimson Tide’s primary catcher, has allowed 11 stolen bases on 17 attempts (64.7 percent). Alabama has allowed 22 total stolen bases on 32 attempts (68.8 percent).

Backup catcher Matt Malkin has also helped out at the plate. He started three games at DH last week and one game at catcher, going 5-17 with two home runs, two doubles and nine RBIs. He’s batting .299 on the season and is second on the team with four home runs in just 67 at bats.

Alabama hosts midweek games against Samford and Alcorn State on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively. Auburn arrives for a three-game series beginning on Friday night.