Baseball Preview: Alabama Readies For Weekend Series With Louisiana-Lafayette
Alabama (6-2), fresh off its sweep of Savannah State in a doubleheader on Tuesday night, will look to brave the cold weather conditions of Hoover Metropolitan Stadium this weekend when they take on Louisiana-Lafayette (4-4) in a three-game series.
ULL had one of the best teams in college baseball last season. That team finished the year 58-10 and hosted an NCAA Regional and later a Super Regional where they lost to Ole Miss.
The Ragin' Cajuns' are now looking to rebuild after losing some of its key players from last year's team including second baseman Jace Conrad and outfielders Caleb Adams and Seth Harrison. Conrad was the 2014 Sun Belt Player of the Year and was named a first team All-American by all five major publications after finishing the season with 96 hits, 65 RBIs, and nine home runs. Adams, a four time All-American, and Harrison combined for 167 hits, 107 RBIs, and 20 home runs.
They may have lost some of their best hitters but losing most of their pitching rotation will be their biggest issue. Especially when facing a solid hitting team like Alabama. Louisiana-Lafayette is replacing 10 total pitchers that accounted for 374 of their 416 strikeouts last season.
This season, the Ragin' Cajuns have lost to UTSA, Stony Brook, and most recently suffered an extra inning loss to McNeese State, so Alabama will be their first true test of the year. This may not be the same team that took down the Crimson Tide two times during last year's series, but they are capable of giving their opponent trouble. Shortstop Blake Trahan, a 2014 ABCA first team All-American, already has 11 hits on the year and is the most dangerous hitter on the team.
They have also benefitted from the emergence of new players like junior college transfer Colton Lee. Lee, a right handed closer, has two saves in four appearances and has a team leading 11 strikeouts, while only giving up one earned run.
ULL's pitching staff is still not strong enough to say that they will not struggle against the Tide's red hot batters. Casey Hughston leads the SEC in batting average (.636), slugging percentage (1.061), and is tied for most RBIs (15). Kyle Overstreet has added 13 hits and 14 RBIs of his own.
Friday's game will be played at 3:00PM, Saturday's game at 2:00PM, and the series finale will be played Sunday at 1:00PM. The Friday night game was moved up because of cold weather expected later that night.