The Battle Plan

April 3, 2014

A-Club Growth
If you are a former letter winner at the University of Alabama, I am calling on you to help a cause that is special to me and vital to the support of our student-athletes in the future. Our A-Club has made a lot of progress in the last few years. I would like to see us continue to grow into the strongest letterman's club in collegiate athletics, and create a national and international network that keeps our former student athletes all over the world interested and engaged in our university and our department.

Membership in the A-Club is available to all men and women who earned varsity letters at the University of Alabama in any sports recognized by the NCAA. The A Club has three primary purposes: (1) to provide a means for the former student-athletes to gather from time to time for certain social purposes; (2) to promote the interests and mission of the University of Alabama; and (3) to support the Athletic Department, its athletic, academic, and life skills programs, and its current student-athletes.

This year, the A-Club has renewed its efforts to identify all former Alabama letter winners in all sports. I congratulate and support A-Club leadership for its efforts to increase A-Club membership, to form A-Club sport-specific committees, and to create a special place for all former letter winners to stay connected with, enjoy and support Alabama Athletics.

In addition to becoming an active A-Club member, what we also want our letter winners to do is become truly "active" in that membership by getting involved and bringing their voices and passion to our efforts. A terrific way to get started is to attend our A-Day activities on the weekend of April 18-19. The A-Club is putting on some special events around A-Day. If you, or anyone you know, are not yet an active A-Club member, please use that weekend to become one. If you are already an active member, please make every effort to come to campus and take part. And your help in identifying former letter winners who are not active, and encouraging them to become active would be very much appreciated.

Here are the A-Club events for A-Day Weekend:

Friday, April 18

7:45 a.m. - Golf at Ol' Colony
11 a.m. - Lunch at Ol' Colony
1 p.m. - Golf at Ol' Colony
1:30-3 p.m. - Golf Clinic (hosted by former UA golfers) on practice range
7 p.m. - A-Club Party at the North Zone for all A-Club members (all sports, men & women), Featuring Kingfish, a rhythm & blues band from Birmingham

Saturday, April 19

9:30 a.m. - Annual A-Club Meeting at Scholarship Club Room, Bryant-Denny Stadium (members only)
11 a.m. - A-Club Luncheon at Scholarship Club Room, Bryant-Denny Stadium (members and immediate family)
1 p.m. - A-Day Game at Bryant-Denny Stadium

For more information, please contact A-Club Office at 205-348-3619.

Spring Sports on a Roll
*We continue seeing great results from our spring sports teams. Our BASEBALL team is riding a five-game winning streak heading into a series this weekend at Texas A&M. The Tide swept a three-game series against ninth-ranked Ole Miss last weekend at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. This team seems to be hitting its stride and they were rewarded by leaping into the Baseball America Top 25 at No. 15 after the sweep. Hopefully, they can keep it going this weekend in College Station. Winning on the road in all SEC sports is a tough order.

Key players in last week's success were second baseman Kyle Overstreet, who hit .462 in a four-game stretch, and pitcher Jon Keller, who went the distance in a 3-1 win over Ole Miss. Jon was named the SEC Pitcher of the Week for that performance. The Tide now is 20-8 on the season and 6-3 in the SEC, leading the Western Division and tied for the overall SEC lead.

*The SOFTBALL team continues to rise in the national rankings this week, moving up from No. 7 to No. 4 in the USA Today/NFCA rankings and is at No. 5 in the Softball poll. Alabama leads the SEC with a 32-5 overall record, 11-1 in the SEC. The Tide has the No. 1 RPI in the latest NCAA rankings with a 16-3 record against teams that made last season's NCAA Tournament.

Coach Pat Murphy's team won all four games it played last week, including sweeping three home games against LSU at Rhoads Stadium. Saturday's win was especially exciting, a 2-1 victory in which the Tide trailed, 1-0, entering the final inning. And we beat No. 11 South Alabama (29-3) Wednesday night. SEC play will resume this weekend with a three-game series at home against Arkansas. Our crowds are tremendous at softball and our fans truly make a difference to our teams.

Also, congratulations are in order for pitcher Jaclyn Traina, who added National Player of the Week honors to her list of accolades this season when USA Softball rewarded her for an outstanding performance in last week's series at Florida. Jaclyn has made a tremendous comeback from some injuries last season and is a key to our team's success.

I get really excited to see so many of our teams pay such special attention to kids in the community before and after games. We really are blessed with great coaches and student-athletes who compete hard for championships, compete hard in the classroom, and are models for what collegiate athletics are supposed to be.

*The men's SWIMMING & DIVING team took 12th place at the 2014 NCAA Championships, improving by 16 places from the year before. It was Alabama's first top-20 finish at the NCAA Championships since 2007 and the highest finish since 2003 when the Crimson Tide also finished 12th. Alabama's points total was its highest since 1994 and its first tally over 100 since 2006.

All of this came in head coach Dennis Pursley's second season. The highlight of the meet was a victory in the men's 50-yard freestyle by freshman Kristian Gkolomeev, who set a school record in the event while becoming Alabama's first national champion since 2007 and the first since Coach Pursley took over the program.

*For the second year in a row, our GYMNASTICS team led the nation in overall attendance, drawing 106,643 fans over the course of 11 meets. Alabama and Georgia were the only two gymnastics programs in the nation to draw more than 100,000 fans this season.

The Tide averaged 12,826 fans per home meet this season. In the SEC, the top three home draws in all of women's athletics were Alabama gymnastics, Tennessee basketball (11,600) and Georgia gymnastics (9,504). This season, gymnastics sold out Coleman Coliseum on Jan. 24 against Arkansas with 15,075 fans, marking the Tide's 10th sellout in the past nine seasons. Overall, Alabama drew six crowds of 11,000 or more for a total of 76,955 fans for the season.

*Our men's and women's TENNIS teams continued their strong seasons last week. Coach George Husack's men's team picked up home wins over Vanderbilt and No. 13 Kentucky over the weekend. The win over Kentucky was our first since 2009 and evened the team's season record at 11-11, 4-5 in the SEC. Our women's team continues its strong season. After an upset loss at Vanderbilt last Friday the Tide rebounded with a 4-0 win at Kentucky on Sunday.

Two women's tennis players earned SEC honors last week for their performances in wins over Florida and South Carolina. Luicelena Perez was named player of the week, while Erin Routliffe earned freshman of the week honors. Perez helped the Tide get its first win in program history over Florida by battling her way to a tough victory in singles to tie the match at 3-3 and force the doubles matches versus the Gators. Luicelena also came through in the clutch against South Carolina, winning her singles match to give the Tide its third point in the victory.

Routliffe, and partner Maya Jansen, provided the clinching win in doubles in the victory over the Gators. In singles, Erin beat a highly-ranked Florida player to give Alabama its second point of the match following a long battle to end the second set.

*Our TRACK & FIELD team had an excellent meet at Georgia Tech last weekend, winning six events at the Yellow Jacket Invite in Atlanta. Meanwhile, their outstanding performance at the recent NCAA Indoor meet has made an impression nationally as the men's team is projected by Track & Field News magazine to place fifth at the NCAA Outdoor meet in the magazine's first NCAA Form chart released last week. Sprinter Diondre Batson is projected to win the 200 meters and finish second in the 100 meters while Jacopo Lahbi is currently forecast to finish eighth in the 800. Other projected high finishers by the magazine are the 4x100-meter relay (fourth), Kamal Fuller in the long jump (fifth), Jeremiah Green in the triple jump (fifth) and Elias Hakansson in the hammer (third).

Overall the Tide is forecast to score 38 points as a team in the magazine's first form chart prediction regarding the June meet. Coach Waters' program has made tremendous strides over the last three seasons. We host another meet this Saturday, the Crimson Tide Invite, which will feature world class athletes.

*The ROWING team will host a regatta on Saturday morning at 9:00 at Manderson Landing on the Black Warrior River, taking on SMU and Eastern Michigan. This is a great family-friendly atmosphere, one of the unique events on the collegiate sports scene. It is a terrific way to get the kids out of the house for the morning while taking in an exciting event. Coach Larry Davis and his team continue to improve and are building a competitive program. We certainly would appreciate your support at their final home regatta of the spring season.

And if you have never seen either a college track and field meet or a rowing regatta, I encourage to come out this weekend and see both. Not only will you enjoy watching our great Crimson Tide athletes in action, you will add to the diversity of your athletic experiences and broaden your horizons!

National Rankings Update
Our teams continue to make their mark nationally, ranking in the top 20 nationally in eight sports this week. Here's a look at Alabama teams that are nationally-ranked this week:

Team Rank
Men's Golf1st
Women's Tennis5th
Men's Track10th
Men's Swimming12th
Women's Golf13th

This Weekend's Action
We are in the thick of the spring schedule now, so there are plenty of chances to show your support. This weekend we host events on campus in rowing, women's tennis, softball and track & field. Meanwhile, our men's tennis and baseball teams travel to Texas A&M while our soccer team goes to Clemson for a spring scrimmage. Our gymnastics team is in Seattle for the NCAA Regional, hopefully setting up for another national title run in Birmingham later this month. Our women's golf team competes in Athens, Ga., while our top-ranked men's golf team heads to Franklin, Tenn., for the Mason Rudolph Championship. Here's a summary of this weekend's action (times listed are for the location of the event):

Friday, April 4

Time Sport Opponent/Event Location
5 p.m.Women's TennisTexas A&MTuscaloosa
6 p.m.Men's TennisTexas A&MCollege Station
8 p.m.SoftballArkansasTuscaloosa
6:35 p.m.BaseballTexas A&MCollege Station
All DayWomen's GolfLiz Murphey ClassicAthens, Ga.
All DayMen's GolfMason RudolphFranklin, Tenn.

Saturday, April 5

Time Sport Opponent/Event Location
9 a.m.RowingSMU & Eastern MichiganTuscaloosa
1 p.m.SoccerClemsonClemson, S.C.
2 p.m.SoftballArkansasTuscaloosa
2:05 p.m.BaseballTexas A&MCollege Station
4 p.m.GymnasticsNCAA RegionalsSeattle, Wash.
5 p.m.Track & FieldCrimson Tide InviteTuscaloosa
All DayWomen's GolfLiz Murphey ClassicAthens, Ga.
All DayMen's GolfMason RudolphFranklin, Tenn.

Sunday, April 6

Time Sport Opponent/Event Location
1 p.m.Women's TennisMissouriTuscaloosa
1:05 p.m.BaseballTexas A&MCollege Station
2 p.m.SoftballArkansasTuscaloosa
All DayWomen's GolfLiz Murphey ClassicAthens, Ga.
All DayMen's GolfMason RudolphFranklin, Tenn.

If you are in Tuscaloosa, Athens, College Station, Franklin, Tenn., Clemson or Seattle, please get out and support the Tide. Let's do all we can do to Keep the Tide Rising!

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    The Battle Plan