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FRIDAY, MARCH 23, 2007
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Bama heads to Ole Miss with plenty of confidence
Winning 2 of 3 at home against Tennessee puts Tide on roll

By Josh Cooper
jcooper@decaturdaily.com · 340-2460

TUSCALOOSA — A young lineup and a patchwork pitching staff on its first extended road trip of the season.

Sounds like a recipe for disaster for the Alabama baseball team. But after taking two of three from Tennessee last weekend, the Crimson Tide (16-8, 2-1 SEC) has reason to be confident heading into this weekend's series at No. 23 Ole Miss (16-7, 1-2).

"The way we play, it's all emotion," outfielder Emeel Salem said. "When we come out with energy and confidence, we're all right. When we come out flat, we don't play as well."

The pitching rotation will be the same as last weekend — sophomore Miers Quigley on Friday, senior Bernard Robert on Saturday and "to be announced" Sunday.

Long reliever Tommy Hunter could start Sunday, but it depends on whether he pitches in any other game.

Alabama bounced Hunter around last weekend when he pitched 1 2/3 innings Friday and relieved Casey Kebodeaux on Sunday, tossing seven innings.

Alabama lost that game 8-7.

"When you look at us, for the most part, regardless of the opponent, we seem to play the majority of games close," Alabama coach Jim Wells said. "Last year we had similar things but we had the pitching to stop the other team. We could beat you 3-2 or 8-7.

"With some guys out, we have trouble stopping the other team."

After missing last weekend's series against Tennessee, Wells said he is expecting sophomore right-handed reliever Austin Hyatt to return. Hyatt had a sore shoulder.

Even with the Tide getting one arm back, pitcher Brandon Belcher's status is still up in the air with a sore forearm, and Patrick Kelly's broken hand will keep him out of the rotation.

That's not a good situation when you're heading into hostile territory.

"This first time around (our players) are not veteran and not used to the mental toughness it takes on the road," Wells said. "My hope is we can have some success there and just get better as the season goes along."

Alabama baseball

  • Friday’s game:Alabama (16-8, 2-1 SEC) at Ole Miss (16-7, 1-2), 6:30 p.m.

  • Saturday’s game:Alabama at Ole Miss, 4 p.m.

  • Sunday’s game:Alabama at Ole Miss, 2 p.m.

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