Tide hopes to continue momentum against UAB

Tide+hopes+to+continue+momentum+against+UAB

UA Athletics

04_07_12 MBA vs Auburn #26 Justin Kamplain Photo by Kalyn-Wright Davis

Brett Hudson

In practice last week, with the first 28 games of the season in the books, Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard told his team to approach the second half of the season as a new season.

Alabama started off the new season — the new 28 games — with a 9-5 win over South Alabama and added on this weekend by sweeping the Auburn Tigers, concluding with Sunday’s 6-2 victory.

Senior centerfielder Taylor Dugas stole the stage, with a .462 batting average and five RBIs in the three games. Dugas also set a new school record for career triples with 14 and tied the school career record for doubles with 64 while getting his 300th career hit. Dugas stole the doubles record away from his hitting coach, Andy Phillips.

“Those things are all great,” Dugas said. “I was telling someone the other day that passing all those records is good, but I want to hit these doubles to hopefully score some runs and help the team win.”

The intensity of the rivalry with Auburn helped Dugas’ effort throughout the weekend.

“Being Auburn, bragging right across the state and all that, you want to come out ready to play,” Dugas said.

The entire team came ready to play all weekend, playing perfectly into Gaspard’s game plan.

“Before the game, what we wanted to do was to out-energy our opponent today,” Gaspard said. “Coming off the game yesterday, we had an opportunity to do that. I thought our guys had good energy all day, and I thought that we competed really hard throughout the entire weekend.”

Alabama finally put together a complete effort from all phases of the game, sending the clubhouse into a smiling frenzy.

“I feel like we’re kind of — knock on wood — catching our stride,” shortstop Jared Reaves said. “We’ve just got to enjoy it while it’s rolling.”

Catcher and third baseman Brett Booth added, “You can feel the confidence rising and everyone getting more confidence in themselves and the team.”

The coaching staff is enjoying the breakthrough, as well.

“This was really the first week of play that we started putting everything together, and we caught a few breaks with that,” Gaspard said. “We just could not deliver a big hit. All of a sudden, we started getting some of those, and we got a couple breaks.  A couple balls fell in, we made a couple plays, and it really starts to change the whole mindset of your team.”

Reaves added, “It’s nice to see. You can’t ask for a better series than Auburn to keep making strides.”

Alabama now has the task of carrying the momentum into the next week of action, starting Tuesday night against UAB. The game could bring up painful memories for the Tide, as Alabama played 12 scoreless innings in a 1-0 loss to the Blazers on March 27.