After a fantastic 14-3 start to the season in non-conference play, the Alabama baseball team has started to struggle quite a bit as conference play has gotten underway.

The start to conference play began with extremely high hopes, as Alabama went into Fayetteville and defeated the #1 ranked team in the country (Vanderbilt has since jumped ahead of them) in dominating fashion, beating Arkansas 16-1.

The rest of the series did not go as well, with 9-1 and 3-1 losses in the final two games kicking off a six game losing streak for the Tide.

Since then, Alabama lost a tough one game matchup against Southern Mississippi 5-4, and proceeded to be swept by Ole Miss at home last weekend.

It is undeniable that the SEC is without a doubt the best conference in college baseball right now. With the top 3 ranked teams in the country in Vanderbilt, Arkansas, and Ole Miss, as well as Tennessee and Mississippi State in the top 10, the road was never going to be easy for the young Alabama team.

Alabama did receive some good news today, however, with head coach Brad Bohannon announcing that star sophomore pitcher Connor Preilipp had a good week of rehab and is progressing well from injury. Preilipp will not be available for this weekend's series against Tennessee, and there is not a formal timetable for his return, but the news in encouraging nonetheless.

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Without Preilpp back in the fold just yet, the Crimson Tide will look to junior Tyler Ras on Friday night, junior Dylan Smith on Saturday, and the starter for Sunday morning is yet to be determined.

With Alabama on a cold streak entering the series at the Joe this weekend, Tennessee is about as hot as can be. The Vols have won their last six games in a row and 11 out of their last 12. Ranked 9th in the country, the Vols have been catapulted by talented freshmen such as outfielder Kyle Booker, infielder Jake Rucker, and lefty pitcher Jake Fitzgibbons.

The Crimson Tide will certainly have their work cut out for them this weekend with Tennessee coming to town. In order to avoid another sweep and end a cold streak of their own, Alabama will have to end the hot streak of one of the most sizzling teams in the country at the moment.

Alabama Baseball's Career Batting Average Leaders