There are questions to be asked and answered when any new season begins. Alabama baseball may have more unknowns than most as it starts preparing for the season.
Among the 35 players listed on the roster on Friday, there were 21 who weren’t with the program in 2018. There’s an influx of new blood to the program this year.
“I thought we meshed really well this fall,” coach Brad Bohannon said. “It’s a real compliment to our returning players. We’ve got great kids in our program, we really do. I’m really proud of the people that they are. The older returning jobs did a great job of getting the new guys acclimated, so I don’t think that’ll be a big issue for us. When you do have a lot of new people playing in the SEC for the first time it’s really an adjustment, no matter what the sport. I think that’ll be a big part to our success this year – how do these new guys handle the rigor of an SEC schedule?”
The baseball team opened its spring practice on Friday afternoon at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. The team worked through its first practice and played a brief scrimmage on Friday afternoon that ended in a scoreless tie. That’s not unusual this time of year, as hitters are getting their first look at live pitching in several months.
“I think if your pitching isn’t ahead of your hitting right now, you’ve got some real concerns,” Bohannon said. “Sam Finnerty was really sharp. He just keeps getting better, has really made some strides with his secondary stuff. Deacon had a good inning. Tyler Ras and Jacob McNairy are two freshmen that we’re counting on that picked up right where they left off in the fall. I’m really pleased with where the pitching is, and we’re going to be just fine offensively.”
All four starting infielders from the 2018 team are gone, as well as Saturday starter Jake Walters. Friday night starter Sam Finnerty, catcher Sam Praytor and outfielders Joe Breaux and Keith Holcombe are among the returning players who contributed the most last season.
“Bo did a great job recruiting,” sophomore catcher Sam Pratyor said. “Our whole pitching staff, it feels like we have just a couple of returners, but all our pitchers have a lot of talent. (Pitching coach Jason Jackson) has done a really nice job with them, grooming them to who he wants them to be. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun to see. We’re going to have a really good pitching staff in my opinion.”
Bohannon said freshmen pitchers Tyler Ras, Connor Shamblin and Jacob McNairy will all be counted on as important pieces. Freshman Drew Williamson’s bat could find its way into the lineup, too.
“I think it’s fair to say that we have a lot more depth,” Bohannon said. “We have some options, both positionally and on the mound. We’re a lot deeper. I think the bottom half of our roster is noticeably better. There are still a lot of areas we can improve roster-wise and the way we play and all that, but we have talent. I like our kids.”
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