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Alabama Baseball: Sorting Things Out

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New Coach Brad Bohannon is trying to make the best out of a bad situation.

New 'Bama baseball coach Brad Bohannon, a first time head coach, was hired on June 1st to replace coach Greg Goff, who was only on the job for one year after replacing Mitch Gaspard, who resigned after seven seasons. Alabama had one of their worst seasons in program history in 2017, with a 19-34-1 overall record and a 5-24-1 SEC mark.

Bohannon inherited a mess, with Goff having 43 players on scholarship money, when NCAA rules only allow 27. Baseball only receives 11.7 scholarships to divide among the 27 players, and the roster can consist of 35 players total. Bohannon had to make some tough phone calls to a lot of players and families to make the numbers work, but seems to have done so in a classy and compassionate manner.

At least six current players, and possibly more, have chosen to transfer out or give up baseball all together. Six of the twelve Junior College signees have chosen to go elsewhere and two of nine high school players will make other arrangements to start their college careers. Some of the current team members voluntarily gave up their aid to help Bohannon make the numbers match up.

The MLB draft also helped cull the numbers as high schooler Bubba Thompson was a first round draft pick and signed for over two million dollars. Cullman High graduate Jacob Heatherly was a third round draft pick and collected over one million dollars for his signature. Junior college pitchers Dylan Cephart and Alex Valverde both signed with pro teams as well, as did Garrett Suchey, who was 'Bama's most constant pitcher last season, and leaves with one year of eligibility remaining. Thompson and Heatherly were expected departures, but Valverde was still coming to Tuscaloosa right up until the last minute. The 22nd round pick of the Tampa Rays signed at the last minute and received $242,000, a high amount for a later round pick. The Rays failed to sign some of their higher picks, leaving them extra money for the later round guys.

Bohannon culled the previous staff and has filled the slots with a cracker jack staff. Jerry Zulli was the first to come aboard, from Louisiana Tech were he served as hitting coach and recruiting coordinator. Zulli has also spent time at Missouri, South Alabama, and Memphis. Jason Jackson came to Tuscaloosa as pitching coach from Florida Atlantic, where he also did double duty, as pitching coach and recruiting coordinator. Previous stops for Jackson were South Alabama, Mercer, and North Florida Community College. Bohannon himself served as recruiting coordinator at his last two stops, Auburn and Kentucky. Coach Bo now has a staff full of young, energetic guys (including himself) that are know for their recruiting chops.

Josh Hampton moves over from football to be the new strength and conditioning coach for the program. Hampton was in charge of quarterbacks while toiling under Scott Cochran. The Cedar Bluff, Alabama native attended North Alabama University and The University of the South-Sewanee. Jack Hoehl comes in from Kentucky to be the Director of Operations, a position he held for the Wildcats for the last three seasons. He is a Seattle native that graduated from Auburn University in 2012, after spending four seasons as a student manager.

One big loss for the Tide will be Athletic Trainer Joe Hoeffer. He has spent the last 10 years in Tuscaloosa, but the Minnesota native and his wife (also a native Minnesotan) have two young children and felt it was time to "go home" to family.

The volunteer coach will be announced in the near future, and promises to be another home run hire. Expect someone with a connection to Alabama to fill the role.

Personnel wise key returners for the Tide include Chandler Taylor, Cobie Vance, Chandler Avant, Jake Walters, Connor Short, Hunter Alexander, Cody Henry, Sam Finnerty, Deacon Medders, Davis Vainer, Kyle Kaufman, Gene Wood, Zac Rogers, Zack Coker, and Sonny Potter. Kyle Cameron will return from a medical issue that forced him to miss last season. Notre Dame transfer Conner Stutts will be eligible for the team as well. Others available are Connor Wright, Tyler McMurray, Walker McClenney, and Dylan Durate. Garret Rukes and Brock Love both had Tommy John surgery last season and will most likely be unavailable for 2018.

2017 high school graduates coming to the Capstone include: Sam Praytor, Brady Green, John Shields, Chris Holcomb, Jared Shemper, Noah Fondren, Zac Harlan and Brock Guffie. Guffie was a late addition to the class after being named class 7A pitcher of the year for the state of Alabama. Junior college players reporting or Josiah Breaux, Sage Diehm, Sam Gardner, Jett Manning, Mason Duke, J.T. Salters, Matt Malken and walk-on Landon Sartain.

The names listed add up to 39, so there will still be some roster management to be done after fall practice, but the number is much more workable now. The program has been put in good hands and improvement is imminent. The new staff is so impressive and I feel that it is a good time to: Catch Bama Baseball Fever.

Roll Tide