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March 27, 2013

BASEBALL: Alabama, Auburn records deceiving

TUSCALOOSA | On the surface, Alabama's three-game series with Auburn looks like a mismatch.

Alabama sits tied atop the Southeastern Conference Western Division standings along with LSU and Texas A&M at 5-1. Auburn is in the cellar at 0-6.

Appearances can be deceiving.

It is true that Auburn is winless in league play, but the Tigers opened by hosting Vanderbilt, then went on the road to face LSU. LSU (23-2) is ranked second in the nation and Vanderbilt (22-4) fifth in the most recent USA Today Top 25.

Alabama, on the other hand, has faced Tennessee (13-10) and Georgia (8-17).

The Crimson Tide has taken advantage of a favorable schedule to race to the top of the league standings and looks to add to the win column in Auburn this weekend.

"We really just need to talk about the next game and what we have to do, but, obviously, for us it was important to get off to a good start," UA coach Mitch Gaspard said. "We've done a nice job through six games. Going into Auburn we know we have to play well. They're a team sitting at 0-6. They feel the need to have a good series as well. For us it's about sticking to who we are, playing the game the right way, putting ourselves into position to be successful this weekend.

"This team still has a long way to go to become a really good baseball team, but I think we've also made some strides in getting there."

Auburn beat Alabama, 6-3, this month in the Capital City Classic, so UA players know the series won't be a cake walk.

"They took that one from us at Riverwalk (Stadium), so we're looking to get back at them," freshman second baseman Kyle Overstreet said.

UA will stay with the same rotation of Charley Sullivan tonight, Jon Keller on Friday and Spencer Turnbull on Saturday.

"I feel like right now, going into this weekend, we're probably in the best spot we've been in as far as pitching rotation and guys starting to develop their roles," Gaspard said.

"I think we're in a good place,
confidence-wise. It's not that we're 5-1, but in the way we've played. I think there is a recipe for this team, and it's getting solid pitching, play really good defense and we have to be able to take advantage of mistakes the opponents are making and offensively just get quality at-bats throughout nine innings."


Reach Aaron Suttles at Aaron@TideSports.com or at 205-722-0229.



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