The Battle Plan

May 1, 2014

John Servati WILL BE SORELY MISSED

This has been the most difficult week of the 13 months I have been at the University. "Only the Good Die Young" is a song that has been ringing in my ears ever since I heard about the untimely death of one of our best student-athletes early Tuesday morning, April 29th. I didn't have the pleasure of meeting John Servati, and from all I've read and heard about him, I'm really sorry I didn't. John's coaches and teammates have painted a picture of him with words as the model student athlete - very bright, highly motivated, talented, unselfish and uplifting to those around him.

I believe that in his relatively short life he influenced many people who knew him for the better, and he will live on in their hearts, as well as in the hearts of the many who only read about him. One message in this tragic event is very clear: life is precious and we never know what tomorrow will bring. We should enjoy the journey, do the best we can every day, and don't put off telling those we love how much we care about them. Let's keep John's spirit alive at the University of Alabama and keep his family and friends in our thoughts and prayers as we all deal with the grief in his passing.

GRADUATION WEEKEND

The spring commencement ceremonies will be held in Coleman Coliseum this weekend on Friday at 6 p.m. and Saturday at 9 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. These special events are among the best of the year as families and friends gather to celebrate this milestone achievement in the lives of our student-athletes. If you ever get a chance to attend, our student athletes would appreciate your presence and you would get a lift out of seeing the products our University is turning out into society.

A total of 58 student-athletes from 16 different sports are slated to graduate this weekend, including 11 that earned All-American honors during their Crimson Tide career and three that earned Elite 89 awards, one of the NCAA's highest academic honors. Golfer Cory Whitsett and tennis players Mary Anne Daines and Emily Zabor all earned the NCAA Elite 89 Award during their careers, which is given to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative grade point average at the final site of all 89 NCAA sponsored championships. Alabama ranks among the national leaders in this award, standing second only to Stanford in total awards coming into the 2013-14 academic year.

Quarterback Blake Sims is among those graduating. Blake will be one of a dozen Crimson Tide football players who have already earned their degree who will be on hand when practice starts in the fall for the 2014 season.  Former Tide stars Terrence Cody and Andre Royal are also set to receive their degrees this weekend. Whitsett, Daines and Cody are among the 11 All-Americans in this graduating class which also includes women's golfer Stephanie Meadow, gymnast Sarah DeMeo, golfer Bobby Wyatt, swimmer BJ Hornikel, track and field athlete Kamal Fuller, softball player Jaclyn Traina, diver Paige McCleary and swimmer Kristel Vourna.

The graduates also include Ria Domier, winner of a prestigious Goldwater Scholarship, who completed both a bachelor's and master's in chemical engineering in four years while competing as part of the back-to-back NCAA Champion gymnastics team. Soccer player Sophie Campise also earned a Master's degree this spring. Sims, women's golfers Meadow and Hannah Collier, men's golfers Whitsett, Wyatt and Trey Mullinax, gymnasts DeMeo, Domier, Moore and Toussaint along with softball players Jaclyn Traina, Ryan Iamurri, Lauren Sewell, Molly Fichtner and Jordan Patterson were all part of national championship teams during their careers here at the Capstone.

SEC WINTER ACADEMIC HONOR ROLL

We had 48 student-athletes earn a place on the Southeastern Conference Winter Academic Honor Roll. To earn a place on the honor roll, a student-athlete must earn a 3.0 or better grade point average for either the preceding academic year or their career and be a sophomore or better in academic standing. The winter list honors those student-athletes that participate in men's and women's basketball, gymnastics and men's and women's swimming and diving.

Six men's basketball players earned the honor, which ranked them second in the SEC. Carl Engstrom (Health Studies), Retin Obasohan (Finance), Levi Randolph (Marketing), Dakota Slaughter (Marketing/Spanish), Ricky Tarrant (Consumer Sciences) and Isiah Wilson (Art) all earned the honor. Emily Davis (Elementary Education), Nikki Hegstetter (Marketing) and Briana Hutchen (Communications Studies) were honored from the women's basketball team.

Our 2014 SEC champion gymnastics team had 10 student-athletes make the team, led by NCAA Elite 89 Award recipient Lauren Beers (Exercise Science) and 2013 NCAA Elite 89 winner Kim Jacob (Exercise Science). In addition to Lauren and Kim, Kaitlyn Clark (Exercise Science), Sarah DeMeo (Interdisciplinary), Ria Domier (Chemical Engineering), Lindsey Fowler (Human Develop. & Family Studies/Early Childhood Education), Lora Leigh Frost (General Health Studies), Diandra Milliner (General Health Studies), Carley Sims (Public Relations) and Kayla Williams (Public Relations) all earned the honor. A dozen members of the men's swimming and diving team earned the honor: Jake Carloni (Advertising), Brian Carr (Chemical Engineering), Cameron Conners (Electrical Engineering), Phillip Deaton (Chemical Engineering), Philip Dockery (Chemical Engineering), Clark Garner (Management), BJ Hornikel (Human Performance Exercise Science), Travis Kerner (Biology), John Servati (Finance), Brett Walsh (General Studies), Brian Westlake (Finance) and Andrew Wrist(Aerospace Engineering).

Seventeen members of the women's swimming and diving team made the Honor Roll: Lisa Bogosian (Marine Science), Brooke Elias (Marketing), Emily Facchine (Chemical Engineering), Brittany Gilbert (Communication Studies), Anna Rae Gwarjanski (Journalism), Victoria Hove (Human Performance Exercise Science), Stephanie Kinsey (Nursing), Stephanie Klotz (Communicative Disorders), Angely Martinez (International Studies and French), Paige McCleary (Human Performance Exercise Science), Keelin McNamara (Public Relations), Justine Panian (Chemical Engineering), Morgan Presley (Human Performance Exercise Science), Michele Rielly (Restaurant and Hospitality Management), Emma Saunders (Geography), Lauren Searcy (Human Performance Exercise Science) and Kristel Vourna (Human Performance Exercise Science).

NATIONALLY-RANKED TEAMS THIS WEEK

This week, six of our teams remain nationally ranked among the top 12 in their respective sports, including three ranked in the top five and five ranked in the top 10. We are in the midst of the crucial part of the season for all of our teams still competing, so I strongly encourage you to see our teams compete whenever you have the chance.

Here's a glance at this week's rankings:
Men's Golf - 1st
Women's Tennis - 2nd
Softball - 5th
Women's Golf - 8th
Men's Track - 8th
Baseball - 12th

ALREADY A YEAR FOR THE RECORD BOOKS - AND IT'S FAR FROM OVER

Two of our teams clinched SEC titles last weekend, running the total of team titles won during this academic year to four. Coach Jay Seawell's men's golf team lived up to its No. 1 national ranking with a dominant performance at the SEC Championships while Coach Patrick Murphy'ssoftball team clinched at least a tie for the SEC regular season crown by winning two of three games against Georgia. Our spring sports teams are now in the championship phase of their seasons. Gymnastics, women's tennis, men's golf and softball have set the bar high for all of our teams. The month of May figures to be an exciting one as we have already matched our school record for most team SEC titles in a single academic year (set in 2009-10).

• Our outstanding top-ranked MEN'S GOLF team won its third straight SEC Championship last Sunday with a 16-shot win on the Seaside Course at the Sea Island Golf Club in St. Simons Island, Ga. The Tide scored a 12-under 268 for a school and SEC Championship-record 806 (34 under par). To get an idea of just how good our team played, LSU set an SEC record in the final round, breaking UA's one-day old SEC record of 266 with a 263 (-17) on Sunday to finish second at 18-under (822) but the Tigers could not gain ground on the Tide.

Senior Bobby Wyatt had an incredible performance as he won medalist honors at 18-under 192. It marked both an Alabama and SEC Championship record. Bobby finished the 54-hole tournament without recording a bogey while making 18 birdies and 36 pars with rounds of 65, 61 and 66. He becomes just the third player in school history to crack the 200-scoring barrier for 54 holes. Freshman Robby Sheltonalso carded a 4-under 66 on Sunday to finish in third place at 10-under-par 200. Robby played the first 54 holes without a bogey before recording a five on the par-4 18th hole Sunday.

• By taking two of three games against Georgia, the WOMEN'S SOFTBALL team has clinched at least a tie for its fifth SEC Championship and its fourth in the last five seasons. One win this weekend at Missouri will give us the outright title. We welcomed crowds of more than 3,000 fans for Friday and Saturday's games, marking the sixth and seventh time the Tide has drawn a crowd of over 3,000 this season. Alabama is averaging 2,898 fans-per-game this season. Pitcher Jaclyn Trainawent 2-0 in two starts against Georgia, throwing two complete-game victories with just three earned runs allowed over 14 innings with 17 strikeouts.

Jaclyn has earned a win in 16 of her last 17 starts, with the only non-win coming in a no-decision against Mississippi State on April 13. She has not lost a game since Feb. 23 and is a perfect 13-0 in SEC play with a 1.42 ERA. Saturday's win over Georgia was Jaclyn's 99th career win, putting her just one win shy of becoming the third player in Alabama history with 100 career victories. Outfielder Haylie McCleneyled the team with five hits last week, extending her hitting streak to eight games and her reached-base streak to 20 games. Haylie has reached base safely in all but one of her 50 starts this season, and she leads the SEC in batting average (.463) and on-base percentage (.583).

• The BASEBALL team continued the toughest portion of its 2014 schedule last weekend with a three-game series at South Carolina. Coach Mitch Gaspard's team remains in the thick of the SEC race despite dropping two of three to the Gamecocks in Columbia. Right fielder Ben Moorehad another big week for the Tide, batting .471 in four games last week with 8 hits in 17 at-bats with 2 runs batted in (RBI), 1 home run, 1 triple and 1 double. Ben extended his hit streak to nine games and he had multiple hits in three of the four games. He had a first-inning solo home run in the Tide's 2-1 win over the Gamecocks on Saturday and was a home run shy of the cycle when he went 3-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored against Southern Miss earlier last week. Ben is hitting .318 for the season, leads the team with 34 runs scored, is tied for the team lead with six home runs and is second on the squad with 28 RBI.

Lefthander Justin Kamplain earned his fifth "quality start" of the season and earned the win when the Tide defeated South Carolina. Justin threw 6.1 innings, allowing a run on four hits with four strikeouts. He is now 4-2 with a 3.32 ERA and leads the team with 57 strikeouts in 62.1 innings. In his only appearance of the week, freshman reliever Thomas Burrowsearned his ninth save of the season, throwing 2.2 scoreless innings in a victory at South Carolina. Thomas entered the game with two on and one out in the seventh, with the Tide leading 2-1, and he got the Tide out of the inning before striking out three of the final six hitters he faced. This season, Thomas is 4-1 with a 0.66 ERA in 27.1 innings, while posting 29 strikeouts with a .106 opponents' batting average.

• On Monday afternoon we learned that head coach Mic Potter'sWOMEN'S GOLF team has been awarded the No. 3 seed at the NCAA Central Regional Championship to be held on May 8-10 at Oklahoma State's Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla. It is the ninth straight invitation to postseason competition for the Crimson Tide. The top eight finishers at the NCAA Central Regional will advance to the NCAA Championships at Tulsa Country Club on May 20-23 in Tulsa, Okla., joining teams that will have advanced from the NCAA East and West Regionals. Since Mic's arrival prior to the 2005-06 season, the Tide has qualified for the NCAA Regionals every season and advanced to the NCAA championships eight consecutive years. The 2014 selection is the 16th NCAA appearance in school history.

• Our WOMEN'S TENNIS team officially received word on its NCAA Tournament seeding and opponents when the NCAA announced pairings late Tuesday afternoon. The Tide is the No. 2 overall seed in the 2014 NCAA Women's Tennis Championships. Coach Jenny Mainzand the Crimson Tide will host first and second rounds on May 9 and 10 in Tuscaloosa as we will welcome Arizona State, Jackson State and Princeton to Tuscaloosa. This marks the third consecutive year for us to host the first and second rounds of the women's tournament. We will take on Jackson State in its first round on Friday, May 9, at 4 p.m. That match will be preceded by the Arizona State-Princeton match that is set to begin at 1 p.m. The winners of both matches will then meet in the second round on Saturday, May 10, at 1 p.m. Tickets for the first and second rounds are available on RollTide.com or by visiting or calling the Alabama Ticket Office at 1-877-TIDETIX (843-3849). In addition, tickets will be on sale at the gate on May 9 and 10, beginning one hour prior to the start of match play. The cost per session is $5 all ages and $3 for University of Alabama students. • The ROWING competed last weekend at the Dale England Cup Regatta and posted another strong performance as the team readies itself for championship competition. Alabama will have two weeks free from competition before resuming its season at the Conference USA Championships on May 17 in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

UPCOMING ACTION

Here's a summary of athletics events over the next several days (times listed are for the location of the event):

Thursday, May 1

Time Sport Opponent/Event Location
7 p.m. Softball Missouri Columbia, Mo.

Friday, May 2

Time Sport Opponent/Event Location
6:35 p.m. Baseball Florida Tuscaloosa
6:30 p.m. Softball Missouri Columbia, Mo.
All Day Track & Field Mississippi State Tune-Up Starkville, Miss.

Saturday, May 3

Time Sport Opponent/Event Location
1 p.m. Softball Missouri Columbia, Mo.
3:05 p.m. Baseball Florida Tuscaloosa

Sunday, May 4

Time Sport Opponent/Event Location
2:05 p.m. Baseball Florida Tuscaloosa

Tuesday, May 6

Time Sport Opponent/Event Location
6:05 p.m. Baseball Jacksonville State Tuscaloosa

I was able to watch several innings in two of our Softball games against Georgia last weekend. The crowd was engaged on every pitch and definitely had a positive impact on our team's performance. If you are in Tuscaloosa, Columbia or Starkville, please support the Tide. Let's all do our part to Keep the Tide Rising!

     

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