Coach Mitch Gaspard came in to this season expecting his Alabama baseball team to have a pretty good year. The Tide was predicted to finish third in the always strong SEC West, and had senior center fielder Taylor Dugas returning after turning down an offer by the Chicago Cubs, who drafted him in the 8th round of last year's Major League Baseball draft. As if that wasn't enough, the Tide coaching staff was also getting the services of Andy Phillips as an assistant coach. Phillips, as most Tide fans are aware, is one of the most decorated players in Alabama history and a former big-leaguer who spent most of his career with the Yankees organization. Well, as hard as it is to imagine, some Bama fans are showing signs of concern after the Tide was swept by Florida Atlantic (3-0) at Sewell-Thomas Stadium in the first series of the season.
The fact that the Tide was swept is bad enough, but the manner in which it occurred is that much worse. Alabama, who starts the season 0-3 for the first time since 1952, was outscored by the Owls 23-8 in the series. They were also outhit by the Owls, who had 39 hits to the Tide's 20. Not to be outdone by the lack of offensive output, the Tide fielder's had 6 errors in the series, including 3 on Sunday. All in all, a pretty poor performance from a team who was expected to make some noise this year. Gaspard, while disappointed, was quick to point out that he still has high hopes for this team.
"I still believe in this team," the second year coach said. "These three games aren't going to change that. It's a combination: some guys we've got to get into a little bit and then there's some guys that we've got to uplift them and let them know, 'Hey, you're OK. Tomorrow's another day and we've just got to get to work. ...'"
One of the lone bright spots for the Tide was Dugas. The All-American went 5 of 11 with a triple, double, an RBI, and 2 runs scored for the Tide from his lead-off spot. Junior Juco transfer Kenny Roberts, an All-American at Meridian Community College in Mississippi, only batted 3 for 12, but had a 3-run home run on Sunday and led the Tide with 4 RBI's total during the weekend.
Next up for the Tide is a three-game series at Sewell-Thomas against Arkansas Pine-Bluff. First pitch of the series is scheduled for Friday night at 6:05 CT.