Jan. 24, 2014
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The University of Alabama baseball team took the field for its first practice of the 2014 season on Friday afternoon, the first day allowed for official practice by NCAA rules. The Crimson Tide put together a full practice at Sewell-Thomas Stadium on Friday afternoon, including an intrasquad game to close out the first day.
"Opening day of practice is always an exciting time for all of us," Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard said. "For this current team, we're returning over 80 percent of our innings pitched and six of our everyday starters. We're coming off of a good fall. There's still some competition on the field and some positions out there where players are battling for spots and will continue competing over the next three or four weeks, even as when we move into the season. This is a group that we're pretty excited about."
Over the weekend, the Tide will have intrasquad scrimmages on Saturday and Sunday, which are open to the public and free of charge. The team will take the field on Saturday at 10 a.m., with first pitch for the intrasquad scheduled for 11:45 a.m. Following the intrasquad, the team will have its inaugural Step up to the Plate Celebration from 3-5 p.m. at the South Zone at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Sunday's practice will start at 1:30 p.m., with first pitch for the intrasquad slated for 3 p.m.
The Step Up to the Plate celebration is designed as a fundraiser and kick-off celebration for the new Sewell-Thomas Stadium project. Supporters in attendance will also be able to see the plans for the future stadium, meet with the coaches and players from the 2014 Alabama baseball team and have a chance to bid on great baseball prizes. Tickets are $50 for adults and $25 for students 18 and under.
Alabama will have 21 practice days to prepare for the season opener against Saint Louis on Friday, Feb. 14, at Sewell-Thomas Stadium, with first pitch at 6:05 p.m.
The Tide returns 21 players, including five position starters and four starting pitchers, from the 2013 NCAA Regional squad. Highlighting the list of returners are 2013 freshmen All-Americans Mikey White at shortstop and Ray Castillo on the mound, along with 2013 gold glove second baseman Kyle Overstreet.
On the position side, Alabama also returns starters in junior right fielder Ben Moore, sophomore center fielder Georgie Salem and sophomore Chance Vincent, who ended the 2013 season as the team's designated hitter. On the mound, the Tide returns 2013 weekend starters Spencer Turnbull and Justin Kamplain, along with a host of players in the bullpen including, Tucker Hawley, Jay Shaw, Jake Hubbard, Mitch Greet, Jon Keller and Mike Oczypok.
"I thought last year - even though we finished on a sour note - that this group showed a lot of potential and got a lot better throughout the course of the year," Gaspard said. "The beauty is that we return many of those guys back into the lineup, as well as in the starting rotation and in the bullpen."
Alabama also welcomes another exciting recruiting class that includes 12 players with 11 freshmen and one transfer. The crop of freshmen includes position players Will Haynie, Hunter Webb, Casey Hughston, Taylor Propst, William Elliott and Anthony Sherlag. On the pitching side, the freshmen include Geoffrey Bramblett, Nick Eicholtz, Thomas Burrows and Tyler Adams.
"We think coming off the fall from what we've seen up to this point that this is a group that can restore pride back into the program and do some things that we want to accomplish here," said Gaspard.
To be part of the excitement of the 2014 Alabama baseball season, purchase tickets at RollTide.com or call the ticket office at 1.877.TIDETIX. Purchased season tickets for the 2014 season will be shipped in early February. Single game and Mini Packs will go on sale on February, 2014.
Get all the latest information on the team by following AlabamaBSB on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. General athletic news can also be found at UA_Athletics on Twitter and Instagram and AlabamaAthletics on Facebook.