Still over 100 days away from opening day the University of Alabama baseball team will play 14 innings at Sewell-Thomas Stadium Sunday afternoon.
This is the second year of the fall baseball game in the NCAA, when college baseball programs are allowed to schedule two games against other schools without counting them against their 56-game regular season limits. Alabama will host Southern Miss Sunday at 1 p.m.
“At times you hear a lot of people talk bad about the NCAA, but one great thing they did was allow us to play these two fall games,” UA coach Brad Bohannon said. “You can scrimmage all you want, and if you have a lot of depth and a lot of good players your scrimmages are very competitive, but it’s just not the same as lining the field, putting an umpire out there and putting nine on the field instead of 18. It’s a really good thing.”
UA was going to have a road game last weekend against Clemson, but it was cancelled due to weather. Bohannon does not think it will be possible to reschedule with Clemson, as both teams are near the end of their fall practice schedules. UA will have an intrasquad World Series after this Southern Miss game.
It’s been an encouraging fall so far for Bohannon, entering his third season at the helm.
“We got some talent, but these kids, they really like each other and they’re really determined to win,” he said. “They really work hard and prepare and compete well. It’s been as productive and as enjoyable a fall as I’ve ever had, but at the same time, it’s time to play someone else. We’ve had some good internal competition, but we’re excited to see what it’s like when we put nine on the field and play another team.”
Given 14 innings to cover, Bohannon expects to have seven or eight pitchers throw against Clemson: “There may be two or three guys that throw three innings and some guys that throw just one.”
More from Bohannon
– On young pitchers: “Connor Prielipp is somebody we’re really, really excited about, he’s performed well. Antione Jean, the freshman from Montreal, has been really good in some short stints. Garrett Hester’s shown some good flashes. Another guy, Landon Green, is new to our fans because he redshirted last year, coming in with Tommy John surgery, but he’s having a great fall. He’s somebody that people haven’t heard, but who’s going to pitch a lot this season for us.”
– On his lineup: “We’re new in the infield, but we do have some older pieces. It’s nice to see Sam Praytor playing — he won’t play this weekend — but he’s been 90 percent this fall and has done some really good things. Brett Auerbach is a senior who has a year of the league under his belt, Kolby Robinson is a senior who’s been through the league, Tyler Gentry is a junior who has a season under his belt, T.J. Reeves and Drew Williamson are more like juniors because they did play so much as freshmen last year.”
Junior outfielder Tyler Gentry
– “Each guy probably has their own thing they want to improve, but collectively we do expect to take a big step forward. A lot of us returners were young last year and there’s usually a big step from year one to year two.”
– “T.J. Reeves, he’s exploded this year. The jump he’s made from last fall to this fall is remarkable.”