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FRIDAY, MARCH 16, 2007
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Tide looking for pitching as it prepares to face UT

By Josh Cooper
jcooper@decaturdaily.com 340-2460

When Alabama coach Jim Wells announced his pitching rotation for this weekend's three-game series against Tennessee, he was a bit undecided it came to Sunday's starter.

Wells said that Miers Quigley will go Friday, with Brandon Robert slated for Saturday and "to be announced" for Sunday. Such has been the issue with the Crimson Tide since Brandon Belcher went down with a forearm injury Feb. 10 against Georgia State.

Belcher left the game in the sixth inning, and Wells still doesn't know when he will return for his team, which has lost three of its last four.

"It's not a thing that's injured — it just won't go away," Wells said. "When he does get the clearing he's a guy with arm strength that can carry you deep into a game."

So far, Quigley has taken the leadership role on the pitching staff for the Crimson Tide (13-7). The former highly touted prospect out of Roswell, Ga., is 3-0 with a 1.15 ERA. He has struck out 33 batters in 31 1/3 innings.

"I knew I had the capabilities, but it was just a mental thing when you get to this point (to start)," Quigley said. "I think just last year really helped me realize there are great pitchers out there and just having good stuff doesn't mean you're going to be a great pitcher."

Part of Alabama's pitching issues has affected Tommy Hunter, who was expected to come out of the bullpen. Now he is making some spot starts and trying to find his role.

The to-be-announced portion of Wells' rotation has to do with whether Hunter pitches out of the bullpen Saturday.

"(Tommy) has kind of a floating type role," Wells said. "It's hard to announce that guy."

Still, the Vols (12-7) are fighting the injury bug as well. Outfielder Julio Bourbon fractured his ankle in late January and will not play against the Crimson Tide.

All-American catcher J.P. Arencibia missed seven games with a back injury but should play against Alabama.

"We're zeroing in on what we're struggling with and trying to get that going," Wells said. "We're not as dominant on the mound as we were last year so we have to be better in all areas because there is not one area that can bail us out."

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