By (Cody Estremera)

Alabama has started out rocky in the Goff era with a 3-5 record and losing its last four games. However, two players – second baseman Cobie Vance and left-handed pitcher Dylan Duarte – have found success in the team’s struggle.

Duarte and Vance are two of 11 sophomores on the team. Both are starters and are leading in at least one category in their respective positions.

Vance has done it all this year so far for the Crimson Tide. He leads the team in hits, batting average and is second on the team in total bases. He is the only player to have a hit in all eight games this season.

“I’ve just stayed on course, keeping the ball on the ground and going where the coaches tell us, [and] having an idea on what the other team is going to try to do,” Vance said.

Defensively, he has not made an error so far, and has made some amazing run-saving plays.

In the game against Jacksonville State, the Gamecocks loaded the bases with two outs, with the designated hitter Peyton Young coming up to bat. Young hit a screaming line drive in the first base hole, looking like Jacksonville State would take a two-run lead. Out of nowhere Vance made a diving play to finish the ending.

“Cobie has been tremendous offensively,” head coach Greg Goff said. “You look on how he’s doing it, he’s using the whole field and adjusting with two strikes. He plays the game the right way.”

Duarte is the Sunday starter in the Alabama rotation. So far he hasn’t gotten credit for a win but has done his job. He leads the starters in ERA (2.79) and has allowed the fewest hits (8). He is also one of only two pitchers that haven’t allowed a walk this year.

“Dylan has been a huge asset for us,” Goff said. “The last two weekends he’s put zeros up for us.”

In his previous start, Duarte allowed just one run over five innings, following up his first career start where he took a perfect game into the fifth inning.

“I’ve learned to accept the good and learn from the bad,” Duarte said. “I need to work on getting longer into games.”

Both of these guys have had a huge start to the season, but the thing that sets these two players apart from others on the team is that they are roommates.

“We always compete, either here or at home in video games,” Duarte said. “When he’s in the box against me it’s fun to see who is going to get the best of each other.”

The two roommates make sure to get each other’s backs even when Duarte isn’t in the game.

“It’s a brother kind of thing,” Vance said. “When he’s [Duarte] on the mound, if someone were to hit him, I’m going to go get a hit for him. Anytime there is competition between us, it is when we are going head to head. When we are together it’s a lot of fun.”

Duarte, Vance and the rest of the Crimson Tide tries to end the losing streak against ULM in the weekend series starting at 5 p.m. on Friday.

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Source:: The Crimson White Sports