The Greg Goff era will get under way Friday at 5 p.m. when the Crimson Tide welcome Presbyterian College to the New Joe for a three game series. Game two will be Saturday at 5 p.m. and game three is set for 1 p.m on Sunday. All times are Central Standard time and can all be seen on SEC Network Plus (on line.)
The PC Blue Hose are a member of the Big South Conference and are led by head coach Elton Pollock, who begins his 13th season at the helm of his alma mater. The Blue Hose are coming off a 27-30 season in 2016, where they finished 12-12 in their league.
The leading hitter for the South Carolina school, Tyler Weyenberg, returns after hitting .358 in 2016. Other returnees include second baseman Cletis Avery who hit .269 and first baseman AJ Priaulx, who finished with a .259 batting average in 2016. Brett Auckland is another outfielder and is coming off a season in which he hit .249 in 56 starts.
The pitching for PC is led by junior right-hander Tanner Chock who was 3-4 with a 4.60 ERA in 2016. Chock will start on Friday night against ‘Bama senior Nick Eicholtz. Senior left-hander Brian Kehner was 5-7 with a very good 2.94 ERA in 2016 and will face off with Tide junior RHP Jake Walters on Saturday. Senior lefty Hayden Deal will oppose Alabama sophomore left-hander Dylan Durate in Sunday’s game three. Deal served as the teams closer in 2016 and finished with a 2-1 record and seven saves over 21 appearances with a 6.16 ERA.
ALABAMA STARTING LINEUP
Expect the Tide to possibly use different combinations of lineups over the weekend as Goff tries to learn his team’s strengths and weakness in live game action. A best guess from observing practices and scrimmages for opening night looks like this:
C sophomore JUCO transfer Kyle Kauffman
1B JUCO transfer, junior Hunter Alexander or junior switch hitter Cody Henry
2B sophomore Cobie Vance
SS junior Chandler Avant
3B junior Connor Short
LF either sophomore Sam Finnerty or sophomore Keith Holcombe
CF sophomore Gene Wood
RF sophomore Chandler Taylor and DH, either senior Tanner DeVinny, Henry or Alexander
Other players that may see action in the series include freshman infielder John Trousdale and freshman outfielder Walker McCleney. Freshman outfielder Logan Carey suffered a knee injury last week in practice and doesn't look to be available for this weekends series. The batting order, again a guess, could look like this:
On the mound after Eicholtz, Walters and Durate, others that should see action include sophomore RHP Brock Love, RS Fr RHP Davis Vainer, three frosh left handers, Nathan Altstadt, Sonny Potter and Garrett Rukes, JUCO transfer righty Garrett Suchey, Finnerty a, right hander, Fr RHP Deacon Medders. Sophmore RHP Kyle Cameron, Jr RHP Zac Rogers and Sr RHP Mike Oczypok also look for mound time.
This is a series the Tide should sweep, and by a wide margin. Hopefully, the team can work out the early season kinks, while getting off to a strong start, gaining confidence along the way. Under Goff expect a hard nose, exciting brand of baseball. The players will play hard, (or won't play) and you should see a lot of grit and hustle. Goff seems to favor a high on base percentage, sacrifice bunting, base stealing and situational hitting. There has been a big emphasis on detail, down to the correct way to place your glove on the ground and how many seconds it should take to get from the dugout to your position.
If you are in town come out and support these guys, they have been working their butts off. Saturday’s game was moved to 5pm to accommodate the men's basketball game vs LSU at 2:30pm, creating a perfect Alabama double-header.
Bama Baseball Fever, Catch it!
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