Chandler Taylor leads Alabama to MAX Capital City Classic

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Chandler Taylor needs seven home runs to tie his career high of 16.

Cody Estremera

Chandler Taylor has never had a problem with power. The junior has led Alabama in home runs both years since joining the roster, and through the team’s first 25 games, Taylor leads the team with nine home runs, seven more than any other player on Alabama’s roster. The left-handed slugger is also slugging .642, which leads the team.  

“I know that my game really is pulling the ball in the air,” Taylor said. “That’s where the majority of my damage is going to be done. Can I hit the ball the other way, and can I hit the ball the other way hard? Yes. Absolutely.”

Taylor has always been a big out for teams to get. The junior has 34 home runs through his first two and a half years at Alabama. 

Even though he has a lot of power, Taylor has struggled in his strikeout-to-walk ratio. In his first two full seasons, he struck out twice for every walk he earned. Through 25 games, he is averaging 1.4 strikeouts per walk.

“I think Chandler has grown a lot in the last few months,” coach Brad Bohannon said. “I think in the walk column is where you see it the most, but Chandler is a very diligent worker. He’s very competitive. He wants to win.”

Taylor had a busy summer. He started by competing in the college home run derby in Omaha, Nebraska. He finished second behind Morehead State’s Niko Hulsizer by just one home run. He moved on to the Cape Cod league and played for the Brewster White Caps, who won the league. 

“It [the summer] showed me how good the guys that are my age really are,” Taylor said. “I played with a group of guys that were unbelievable. We knew how to work on our craft, and we did it every day and we talked about it. We were able to have dialog about it. A lot of the stuff that I brought back, not only the baseball stuff and what I’ve worked on to help my game but also the leadership stuff, the clubhouse stuff, I brought back from the summer because the atmosphere was so positive all the time.”

Taylor and Alabama travel to Montgomery, Alabama to face No. 13 Auburn. Alabama has only won the MAX Capital City Classic one time in the nine years the two teams have met in the state’s capital. 

When the two teams matched up for the series in Auburn last year, Taylor was tremendous. In route to Alabama’s only SEC series win, the lefty went 7-for-14 with three walks, three RBI, three home runs and five runs.

Now, the former Alabama Christian Academy outfielder returns home to play in front of his hometown crowd.

“It’s good to play in front of a hometown crowd,” Taylor said. “High school friends, people I’ve known growing up who don’t get a chance to see me play on a regular basis. They have a chance one time a year to come see me play. But other than that, it’s just about beating Auburn. It’s just another game. Auburn is the next opponent. They happen to be ranked in the top 10, and it happens to be the school that our head coach came from, but none of that makes it any more than what it is.”

Junior Mason Duke will start for the Crimson Tide, while freshman Jack Owen starts for the Tigers. First pitch is set for 6:35 p.m.