Two key pieces returning for Tide in 2013

This is the first of a three-day series of posts welcoming the 2013 Alabama baseball season. The Crimson Tide starts the season on Friday at home at Sewell-Thomas Stadium against VMI, the first of a three-game series. Coverage of the series can be found here on Daily Bama Blog.

Comfort has been the hot-button word for Alabama baseball coach Mitch Gaspard. In 2012, the Crimson Tide did not have much of it, as freshmen and inexperienced sophomores were heavily populating the pitching staff and depth was not as great as the coaching staff would have liked.

Gaspard has that comfort now that pitchers Tucker Hawley and Taylor Wolfe are returning from arm injuries that kept both of them out for the entire season last year.

“This team has more depth and roster of any team we’ve had,” Gaspard said. “There are still a lot of young guys on the roster, but I think there are some talented guys.

“I think right now we’re probably 10 or 12 deep in our pitching staff, which is really comforting from where we were last year.”

The addition of the two pitchers, both redshirt juniors, not only adds two bodies to the rotation, but also two players capable of performing well immediately.

“I’m really encouraged right now,” Gaspard said. “Velocity with Tucker and Taylor aren’t yet where we’d like to be, but they’re not that far off. The biggest issue with those guys, and a lot of young guys, is command. One of the biggest Achilles’ heels last season was the pitch count; we couldn’t get a starter past the fifth inning.”

Hawley, despite a setback in the fall with shoulder tendinitis, is ready for the 2013 season.

“My arm’s been feeling great,” he said. “Throwing program went amazing.”

Gaspard added, “He’s a strike-thrower. He’s pitched in Regionals, Super Regionals and big-time SEC venues. Tucker can help not only with the sophomore group, but this freshman group also.
Tucker’s always been a strike machine.”

Story and video contributed by Brett Hudson

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