First-year Alabama head coach Greg Goff knew there was going to be a lot up in the air with his new team. There were a lot of question marks at positions, like first and third base, catcher and two of the three spots in the outfield. He also knew that two of the top three power hitters had left the program. He decided to focus on the basics and start with small ball.
Goff said he was going to put pressure on Presbyterian and on opening weekend and he proved himself true. In the first game of the series Chandler Avant singled. The batter stole second and moved up to third on the throwing error by Presbyterian catcher Thatcher Coleman. Pressure to make a good throw after Avant had a great jump lead to the first run of the game for the Crimson Tide.
Later in the game, Cody Henry lead off with a double. Henry was moved over by a ground out, and eventually scored because of a single by Avant. Avant then moved up to second because of a wild pitch by Presbyterian pitcher Brain Kehner. Kehner knew that Avant had already stolen a base, so he tried to make a perfect pitch and failed, leading to three of the four runs in the game for the Crimson Tide in its 4-3 win.
Sunday was much of the same. Alabama entered the bottom of the seventh inning down one run. Gene Wood singled, and was moved up on a sacrifice bunt by Avant. Cobie Vance singled moving Wood to third. Goff tried to put pressure on the Blue Hose again by sending Wood, but he slipped and moved back to third. A chopper to the shortstop made sure the tying run would score.
The last run that the Crimson Tide scored in Saturday’s contest was by a sacrifice fly, hit by Vance, with the bases loaded to finish off the Blue Hose.
“That’s exactly what we do,” Goff said. “You have to do those things when you aren’t hitting. This offense needs to score different ways. I think our guys did a great job putting pressure on Presbyterian.”
Small-ball works for some players but not everyone on the Alabama roster played it small on the first series of the season. Chandler Taylor is coming into his second season at Alabama. As a freshman he hit nine home runs, three triples and lead the team in RBIs with 33.
In the weekend series Taylor was responsible for seven of the 15 runs scored, and there was nothing small about the hits responsible for the RBIs. The first was a triple that bounced one time before hitting the right-center field fence that is about 370 feet from home plate. In Saturday’s game he smashed two home runs, one halfway up the flag pole in right field and the other a screaming line shot into the right field terrace. He added another home run in Sunday’s game.
Hunter Alexander and Connor Short also hit home runs in Saturday’s 8-1 win. Alexander’s hit halfway up the scoreboard in left field and Short’s went right down the left field foul line.
“Our offense is more than one dimensional,” Goff said. “That’s what we are. We can strike at any time.”
What doesn’t show up in the stat sheet was a foul ball that Taylor hit in one of his at bats on Saturday. He was just out in front of the ball and smashed it almost all the way to Coleman Coliseum.
Alabama returns to action on Tuesday when it hosts Southern Miss at 6 p.m.
Source:: The Crimson White Sports