Preview: Alabama Readies For Matchup With Undefeated Texas A&M
Alabama (12-7) did just enough to hold off Samford in an 8-6 win on Tuesday night, and it is all thanks to freshman pitcher Jake Walters. In his first career start on the mound, Walters pitched 5.0 scoreless innings and struck out a season-high nine batters. The Crimson Tide will hope to see more pitching performances like Walters as it prepares for a weekend series with #5 Texas A&M.
Texas A&M (22-0) has clearly gotten off to the hottest start in college baseball. A series sweep over Auburn last weekend helped them climb up the rankings. Only one poll had them ranked in the preseason top 25, and now they are ranked in every single poll's top 5. The Aggies can truly confirm their rankings this weekend in the first road series of the year.
A&M's success on the mound this season is just one of the reasons why the team is off to such a hot start. They currently lead the SEC in team ERA (1.66). Probable starting pitchers for this weekend's series are Grayson Long, Matt Kent, and Turner Larkins. Long has the best ERA of the three (2.20) and has allowed just seven earned runs this season. Kent has the most wins in the SEC (5) and has walked just two batters in over 35 innings pitched. Larkins has a 2.33 ERA and 27 strikeouts on the year.
The Aggies' pitching staff will, however, be put to the test against Alabama's lineup. The Crimson Tide has 44 hits and 27 runs over their last four games. Alabama is the only team in the SEC to have two starters batting over .400 (Casey Hughston and Mikey White). The addition of Riley Colburn to the lineup as helped spread the wealth. Colburn has batted .333 with six RBI's since getting his first start last Friday. Freshman Chandler Avant is also starting come into own. He has gotten a hit in each of his last six games.
Despite Alabama's hot streak at the plate, their pitching staff versus Texas A&M's lineup will be the battle to watch this weekend. The Crimson Tide is still 12th in the SEC in team ERA (3.91). Meanwhile, A&M is batting .309 as a team with a .415 on base percentage. The Aggies know how to get on base, but their overall power is the biggest concern as they lead the conference in home runs (21). Right fielder and clean up hitter Nick Banks is the player to keep an eye on. Banks is batting .425 with 34 hits and 16 RBIs.
The all-time series between the two teams is tied 4-4. Friday's game is scheduled to begin at 7:00 pm. Saturday's game will begin at 3:00 pm, and the series finale will start at 1:00 pm on Sunday.