Alabama baseball team looks to stay strong after weekend sweep

Kevin Connell

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Following a sweep of the Virginia Military Institute Keydets last weekend, the Alabama baseball team will be back in action Tuesday, when it faces the No. 23 Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.

The Crimson Tide (3-0) is off to its best start since 2011 when it began the year 4-0, which itwill be looking to match when the Golden Eagles (3-0) visit The Joe.

Senior third baseman Kenny Roberts said he already feels a lot better about this season and is glad to finally put the dismal 2012 season behind him.

“I feel I’ve prepared well, and we’ve prepared well, and we’re just playing with a lot of confidence,” Roberts said. “The year I had, the year the team had last year, it was bad and I just wanted to get done with it.”

This next game for the Tide, however, may be as tough as any weekday game it plays all season. The Golden Eagles are off to a great start in their own right after sweeping the Missouri Tigers this past weekend.

Alabama and Southern Miss split the season series last year at one game apiece with the Golden Eagles taking the first meeting 14-2 in Hattiesburg, Miss., last February and the Tide winning 8-3 in Tuscaloosa in March.

Although it’s been only one series, the Tide may look to rally behind redshirt sophomore first baseman Cary Baxter, who is leading the team in several offensive categories from the seventh spot in the lineup.

“Baxter is really filling the need for us right now,” head coach Mitch Gaspard said. “He had a huge weekend, both RBI wise and hit wise. He’s the guy that we knew was capable of this. He had some at-bats last year, wasn’t quite ready, but it looks like he’s taken the next step now.”

His performance thus far has won him the first baseman job, Gaspard said.

“Right now I think it’s Baxter,” Gaspard said. “There is still competition that will be on-going, but the team is very aware of them. The guys that are putting up results and playing well, they are going to continue to get opportunities to stay out there.”

“We’re always trying to find the right mix that’s going to make it go, and right now the last couple of days [have] been a pretty solid lineup one through nine.”

First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 p.m. Tuesday. The two teams will meet again later this season on April 24 at Southern Miss.

Leading in today’s Crimson White:

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Alabama gymnastics team moves up to No. 4