For the full Q&A with Alabama baseball coach Brad Bohannon, click here.
The road ahead for Alabama baseball isn’t entirely unfamiliar for Brad Bohannon. This was his first season as head coach, but not his first year as part of a program struggling to make up ground in the SEC.
Alabama finished 27-29 overall and 8-22 in SEC play, last in the conference. Both of those marks were an improvement from the 2017 record (19-34-1 overall, 5-24-1 SEC), but still left the Crimson Tide far behind the competition. Alabama was eliminated from the SEC tournament entering the final weekend of the season.
“If you’re truly competitive, losing is not fun,” Bohannon said last Friday. “The University of Alabama, regardless of all the circumstances, we’re not supposed to lose 29 baseball games in a regular season. So yeah, it was hard. It was frustrating.”
Bohannon is the third head coach in three seasons for the program. Mitch Gaspard resigned after the 2016 season and Greg Goff was fired after the 2017 season. All that turnover damaged Alabama’s recruiting and continuity.
Alabama began the season 9-0 and had some momentum early in SEC play with series victories over Kentucky and Missouri. But things became more difficult from there. Alabama lost 10 straight SEC games after those series wins to fall near the bottom of the conference and never recovered. UA missed the SEC Tournament again, the first time it has been left out in consecutive years since 1987-88.
“The one thing I was disappointed in this group was that we weren’t able to get out of a downward spiral,” Bohannon said. “We did play some really good baseball at times. I thought once it went sideways in the league play, we just couldn’t get out of the tailspin.”
There was some progress in several statistical areas: Alabama scored more runs, gave up fewer runs and improved defensively in some statistics. That all happened even though the strength of schedule improved from 40th in 2017 to 22nd in 2018.
But taking the program to the top half of the SEC and into the NCAA Tournament won’t be easy.
“I’m very comfortable saying that there are some real significant gaps in multiple areas where our program is right now (compared) to what I would deem SEC average, and those gaps aren’t all going to be closed in just one year,” Bohannon said. “I’m comfortable saying that.”
Bohannon spent 14 years as an assistant at Kentucky and Auburn before coming to Tuscaloosa. Both of those jobs were uphill battles in the beginning, too. Kentucky was 7-23 and 7-22 in his first two seasons there; Auburn was 8-22 in 2016. Kentucky made the NCAA Tournament in Bohannon’s third year as an assistant, and Auburn was 16-14 in 2017 after missing the SEC Tournament the year before.
The coaching staff headed out on recruiting trips shortly after the season ended to try and get Alabama back on track. Bohannon said he’d only spent two nights in Tuscaloosa in the two weeks since the season ended. That’s how his first season at Alabama ended and where his second season began.
“It was hard,” Bohannon said. “It was frustrating. Obviously a lot of bright moments for the team. There were some good individual games, some good weekends, some good individual performances and growth for some players. So there were plenty of positives but it’s hard to lost 29 games in a year.”
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