The rugged SEC schedule offers enough of a challenge for most of the league’s college baseball teams. Six teams in the conference chose not to schedule a three-game series against a major conference opponent in the nonconference schedule.
Six more teams have one weekend series against major conference opponents before diving into SEC play. Only two will face two weekend series against major conference competition: LSU and Alabama.
“I think you get better by playing good teams,” coach Brad Bohannon said. “You have to be a little careful in our league because it’s a 14-week season and you’re signed up right out of the gate for 10 absolute slugfests.”
Alabama vs. Washington State
Schedule: Doubleheader Friday at 2 p.m., second game to begin 45 minutes after end of
first game, Saturday at 1 p.m.
Where: Sewell-Thomas Stadium
Records: Alabama 4-0, Washington State 2-3
Radio: 102.9 FM
Alabama will host Washington State this weekend, then head to Oklahoma next weekend. LSU, the defending conference champion and national runners-up, played Notre Dame last weekend and face Texas this weekend. Vanderbilt did play Duke last weekend and will play three individual games in one weekend against UCLA, Southern Cal and TCU in March.
It’s not always normal to see marquee opponents in the nonconference for college baseball teams. But it may be more common for Alabama in the future.
“I think you get better at playing good baseball by playing good teams,” Bohannon said. “I think we’ll continue to play a good schedule going forward.”
The only other meeting between Alabama and Washington State came in the 1950 College World Series. Bohannon and Washington State head coach Marty Lees became friends on the recruiting circuit, which led to the series being added.
“We’re excited to play a Pac opponent,” Bohannon said. “They’re pretty left hand dominant on the mound, so there’s a good chance we’ll see three left handed starters which will be a good challenge for us. They’ll be a talented group.”
Alabama plans to use the same rotation it debuted last weekend: junior Sam Finnerty in the first game on Friday followed by senior Jake Walters. The starter for the final game will be determined after Friday’s games.
The Crimson Tide is 4-0 for the first time since 2013, but the next two weekends should be a big test. Washington State is in the second year under Lees after going 24-29 last season. Oklahoma finished 35-24 and made an NCAA tournament regional appearance.
“Bringing a high level of focus multiple days in a row has been a challenge for this group,” Bohannon said. “We’ve done a pretty good job with the games we’ve had to start, but we have at least 52 more of these, so it’s a marathon and not a sprint.”
Reach Ben Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org or 205-722-0196.