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FRIDAY, MAY 11, 2007
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Tide tries to hold onto 8th

By Josh Cooper
jcooper@decaturdaily.com 340-2460

So it comes down to this for the Alabama baseball team:

The final home series of the regular season against SEC West-leading Arkansas (36-14, 16-8 SEC) with a chance to put some distance in between itself and Tennessee for eighth and final spot in the SEC tournament.

The Razorbacks provide Alabama (27-22, 11-13) with its last best chance to win an SEC series this season.

Alabama's next and last series is on the road against second-place Mississippi State. The Crimson Tide owns a 5-10 record away from Tuscaloosa this season.

"I've tried the past couple of weeks, talking about the urgency, but that doesn't help," said Alabama coach Jim Wells, whose team has gone 5-5 in its last 10 games. "You have to think what's best about this group at this time of year."

The Tide's conference record comes out to a .458 winning percentage. The ninth-place Vols sit at .455. The top eight teams make the season-ending tournament at Hoover.

And while at this point of the season, all the ingredients should be coming together for the Tide, but different spices continue to be mixed into the pot, creating confusion.

Sophomore outfielder Tyler Odle launched his first career home run, which proved to be the game-winner to beat Florida 7-5 in 10 innings Saturday.

Will Stroup got his first career start and pitched well enough to land the ever-changing Sunday starter role for the Tide in the series this weekend.

At Florida, Stroup tossed seven innings, allowing eight hits and three runs while striking out six.

The question with Alabama though is whether this is another false breakthrough. After the Tide came from behind Sunday at Vanderbilt on April 6, the team talked about its newfound confidence.

Since then, Alabama is 7-8, including losses at home against Samford and South Alabama.

At Florida, Alabama lost two of three games to the Gators.

"We're aware of all (the problems), and I wish a magic wand could go across and make it all right," Wells said. "You learn from it and learn from adversity."

Arkansas at Alabama

Friday's game: 6:36 p.m.

Pitchers: Tommy Hunter, Alabama vs. Nick Schmidt, Arkansas

Saturday's game: 4:05 p.m.

Pitchers: Miers Quigley, Alabama vs. Jess Todd, Arkansas

Sunday's game: 2:06 p.m.

Pitchers: Will Stroup, Alabama vs. Duke Weller, Arkansas

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