The ball goes to starting pitcher Sam Finnerty on Friday night when Alabama baseball opens its season against Presbyterian. But when the ball is put in play, it’s likely to find its way to a player Alabama fans don’t yet know.
“There’s a lot of new guys,” said Finnerty, one of Alabama’s most experienced players. “There’s a lot of talent in there. A lot of competition has gone on throughout the fall and these early weeks in the spring. We’re excited. There are a lot of guys that can help us.”
Alabama vs. Presbyterian
Schedule: Friday at 3:00 p.m., doubleheader Saturday at 1:00 p.m.; second game begins 45 minutes after first game ends
Where: Sewell-Thomas Stadium
2018 Records: Alabama 27-29 (8-22 SEC), Presbyterian 15-39 (8-19 Big South)
Radio: 102.9 FM
The Crimson Tide could field new players at first base, second base, shortstop and third base in its starting lineup against the Blue Hose. At least one outfielder is likely to be a newcomer. Saturday starter Tyler Ras is a freshman who will make his college debut.
Of the 35 players on Alabama’s roster, 22 have never taken an at-bat or thrown a pitch for Alabama.
The three-game series against Presbyterian starts a string of 18 nonconference games before SEC play begins in March. That will give coach Brad Bohannon some time to sort out roles in his lineup, rotation and bullpen.
“Typically, I’ve always kind of believed in playing a lot of people early,” Bohannon said. “The kids have had six months to earn the opportunity. Especially when you throw in the fact that we have so many new people. I really think we have about 12 guys, 12 starters. You’ll definitely see some guys in and out of the lineup the first few weeks.”
All that new blood will try to help Alabama extend its season this spring. The Crimson Tide missed the SEC tournament in 2017 and 2018. Four of the newcomers were chosen in the 2018 MLB draft but chose to attend school instead. They’ll have to compete with the returning players and other new faces to find a spot on the field.
“I love where we’re at right now,” Bohannon said. “I love our kids. We’ve got awesome people in the program. There’s kind of different layers to that. I think you have to start with high character, but there’s a competitive piece and the work ethic, the desire to win and the resiliency and all those types of things. I’m really pleased with the type of people that we have in our program. We have a bunch of returning players that are really determined to win and a bunch of new players that have a burning desire to be a good baseball player. I’m really pleased with the feel of the locker room right now.”
Reach Ben Jones at email@example.com or 205-722-0196.