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First Pitch: 2017 Alabama Crimson Tide Baseball Preview

New stadium, new coaching staff, 15 new faces. Will this result in a new (and improved) outcome?

The Joe.
The Joe.
Roger Myers

A new era of Alabama baseball began last season with the re-opening of Sewell-Thomas Stadium after much-needed renovations. Unfortunately, the excitement of state-of-the-art facilities did not translate to improvement on the scoreboard. An overall record of 32-26 (15-15 SEC) got the Crimson Tide on the plus side of winning but it was not enough to gain a birth into the NCAA tournament. Mitch Gaspard "resigned" as head coach after another lackluster season and AD Bill Battle made an uninspiring choice of Greg Goff as the replacement. Thus begins the New Era 2.0.

Goff has yet to manage a game for the Tide, so Bama fans will need to be a little patient and give him the benefit of the doubt. New Bama AD Greg Byrne has smartly rebuilt the baseball programs at Mississippi State and Arizona, and will likely be keeping a close watch on the progress of the program under Goff.


GONE: Swept out the door along with Gaspard were Hitting Coach Andy Phillips, Pitching Coach Dax Norris, Volunteer Coach Nathan Kilcrease, and Director of Baseball Operations David Kindred - all former Bama players.


NEW: Assisting Goff will be former UCF head coach Terry Rooney. He holds the title of associate head coach while working as the team’s pitching coach. Jake Wells, a former player under Goff at Montevallo, serves as the Crimson Tide’s recruiting coordinator while also working closely with the team’s catchers. Michael Chadwick is Director of Operations and Joe Hoffer will serve as Athletic Trainer.


GONE: The Tide lost some good pitching to the MLB, beginning with Alabama all-time saves leader Thomas Burrows who was selected in the fourth round by the Seattle Mariners. He was traded to the Atlanta Braves in January. Also drafted were, Will Haynie (Colorado Rockies, 16th round), Matt Foster (Chicago White Sox, 20th round), Colton Freeman (Chicago Cubs, 20th round) and Geoffrey Bramblett (Kansas City Royals, 30th round).
Among those out of eligibility are Ray Castillo, Jake Hubbard, Jon Keller, Daniel Cucjen, Chance Vincent, and Georgie Salem. Hunter Webb decided not to return to the team for his senior season for personal reasons.

RETURNING: Despite being drafted by the Miami Marlins in the 13th Round, pitcher Nick Eicholtz chose to return to the Capstone for his senior season. Other returning players include Chandler Avant, Cody Henry, Cobie Vance, Jake Walters, Chandler Taylor, and Connor Short. On the verge on winning a starting spot on the football team, how much baseball will Keith Holcombe play this year? Two other key guys returning to the hill are Brock Love and Dylan Durate.

NEW: The Crimson Tide has three junior college transfers, nine freshmen, two redshirt freshmen and one transfer that has to sit out the season. Most notably are jucos Hunter Alexander, a power hitting 1B/DH, and Kyle Kaufman, who likely starts behind the plate. Roger will have full coverage of the "New Guys" on Thursday.


Whoever made up this schedule sure laid out a simpler transition period for Goff. The first 21 games will be played in the friendly confines of "The Joe" on the campus of the University of Alabama. The 22nd game will be in Birmingham. Of those 22 games, none will be against ranked teams. The Crimson Tide will take only four trips out of state, two of which are to the state of Mississippi.

Feb 17-19 vs Presbyterian College (Saturday game moved to 5pm so it won't interfere with hoops)
Feb 21 vs Southern Miss
Feb 24-26 vs Oral Roberts
Feb 28 vs Jacksonville State
Mar 3-5 vs ULM
Mar 7 vs Troy
Mar 9-12 vs Arkansas-Pine Bluff
Mar 14 vs Eastern Illinois
Mar 15 vs Samford
Mar 17-19 vs Missouri *
Mar 21 at UAB 
Mar 24-26 at South Carolina *
Mar 28 vs Auburn in Montgomery, Ala.
Mar 31-Apr 2 vs Arkansas *
Apr 4 at Troy
Apr 7-9 at Ole Miss *
Apr 11 vs UAB
Apr 13-15 vs Texas A&M *
Apr 18 vs Alcorn State
Apr 20-22 at Mississippi State *
Apr 25 vs Jacksonville State
Apr 27-29 vs LSU *
May 5-7 at Auburn *
May 9 at Samford
May 10 vs Grambling
May 12-14 vs Florida *
May 18-20 at Vanderbilt *

Home games are in BOLD.


Alabama is nowhere near the preseason rankings right now but some of their conference opponents are. The SEC has four teams among the top six. The Tide will face all four of those teams this season, plus #20 TAMU and #26 OM.

Comp Team
NCBWA USA Today/Coaches Total Conf
1 TCU 1 1 1 3 XII
2 Florida 2 2 2 6 SEC
3 LSU 3 5 3 11 SEC
4 Florida State 4 3 5 12 ACC
5 South Carolina 5 4 4 13 SEC
6 Vanderbilt 6 7 6 19 SEC
7 Oregon State 7 8 7 22 PAC
8 Louisville 8 12 8 28 ACC
9 East Carolina 9 10 10 29 AAC
10 NC State 10 6 14 30 ACC
11 Coastal Carolina 11 11 9 31 SB
12 North Carolina 12 9 13 34 ACC
13 Clemson 13 15 12 40 ACC
14 Cal State Fullerton 14 16 11 41 BW
15 UL Lafayette 15 13 16 44 SB
16 Arizona 16 19 15 50 PAC
17 Texas Tech 17 14 19 50 XII
18 Virginia 19 17 18 54 ACC
19 Miami (Fla.) 18 21 17 56 ACC
20 Texas A&M 20 20 20 60 SEC
21 Stanford 23 18 21 62 PAC
22 UC Santa Barbara 21 25 23 69 BW
23 Rice 24 23 25 72 CUSA
24 Maryland 25 22 28 75 B1G
25 Oklahoma State 22 NR 22 - XII
26 Mississippi 27 NR 24 - SEC

SB = Sun Belt; BW = Big West.


This Alabama team has two Chandlers, three Connors, two Garretts, two Kyles, two Zac(k)s, a Tanner, a Taylor, two Tylers but only one Dylan. C'mon GenX parents. Show a little creativity! A Hunter, a Walker, a Cobie, and a Cody.
Thank goodness for Deacon Medders. Now that is a baseball name.


This is a young team with only four seniors. A lot of fresh faces will be getting their shots.

Our baseball insider Roger Myers has been attending practices and will have reports on the progress including the projected lineups, potential pitching rotation, and a preview of opening weekend vs Presbyterian.

Follow Roger on Twitter all season long with in-game insights @rogerpatmyers.