By (Cody Estremera)

Now through the first 29 games of the season, Alabama sits at the bottom of the SEC with a record of 13-16, with 12 of the 16 losses coming by less than three runs, including Tuesday’s 12-11 loss to Troy.

“I hate to lose, I don’t even enjoy winning – that’s how much I hate to lose,” head coach Greg Goff said. “Losing is unacceptable. I want to make our fans and the people that support The University of Alabama proud, and I know I’m letting them down. That’s what bothers me the most.”

Even though the team is three games under .500, Goff has seen his team grow through the first half of the season.

“The biggest thing I love about this team is these guys come out every day and get better,” Goff said. “If you continue to work at this game you are going to continue to get better and better. Each week we have improved. To me it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.”

Alabama has struggled offensively this year, sitting at 11th in the SEC in batting average (.276) and on base percentage (.359).

Last year the Crimson Tide struck out 446 times, which was only better than three teams in the SEC. This year the team has punched out 192 times. The drop in strike outs is a result of the change in two-strike approach that Goff brought with him.

“Two-strike approaches were pretty tough for me to start with,” shortstop Chandler Avant said. “I’ve gotten more settled in with it. I’ve never done that before, and coach Goff wanted us to do that.”

Goff stresses every week that the team takes a step back and starts out 0-0.

“Sometimes it’s a little difficult,” Avant said. “We also have the midnight rule, where after midnight your mind changes and you stop thinking about the past and start thinking to the present. We just have to keep a positive thought and not look back on what has happened. We need to focus on what’s coming up.”

Defensively Alabama is eighth in the SEC in fielding percentage (97.4 percent) and is ranked second in double plays turned (29). At the end of the 2016 season Alabama finished 10th in fielding percentage (96.9 percent) and turned 48 doubled plays, which ranked sixth in the SEC.

Alabama moves on to Oxford when it plays Ole Miss over the weekend. The team is 1-5 in its last two trips to Oxford.

The Rebels are 17-12 on the season and one spot ahead of Alabama in the SEC west. Ole Miss is ranked last in runs scored, doubles and total bases in the SEC. However, its pitching staff is one of the best in the conference, ranked third in ERA (2.88) and opponent batting average (.218).

For senior Mike Ozypok, the trip to Ole Miss will be his third.

“It’s one of my favorite places to go to,” Ozypok said. “Their fans are great, and it’s a different type of environment. They have a lot of fun as fans.”

Jake Walters will start for Alabama on Friday. First pitch is at 6:30 p.m..

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Source:: The Crimson White Sports