Preview: Alabama Welcomes Mississippi Valley State for Tuesday Night Doubleheader
Alabama (20-18, 7-11 SEC) enter a midweek doubleheader after falling just short of getting a series win over 14th-ranked Missouri last weekend. The Tigers escaped with a 4-3 win on Friday, but the Tide quickly responded with a 6-0 win to start Saturday's doubleheader. It was the first time Missouri had been shutout this season. But Alabama dropped the final game 5-3.
The Tide once again proved that it can compete with any team in the country. However, Alabama's potential will not be enough to guarantee a postseason bid, so they will still need some big wins down the stretch. Tuesday's night doubleheader against Mississippi Valley State is not considered a big series, but this team cannot afford to drop a game to the Devils.
Meanwhile, Mississippi Valley State (6-26-1) will likely struggle to compete with Alabama on Tuesday. The Delta Devils are last in the SWAC standings, and they are currently in the midst of an 11-game losing streak. During that stretch, they have been outscored 136-47 including a 31-7 loss to Delta State to start the losing streak.
The glaring issue for Mississippi Valley State is on the mound. The Delta Devils' 9.20 ERA is the worst team ERA in Division I college baseball. They have allowed 414 hits across 33 games this season. Just to put that in perspective, Mississippi State has allowed an SEC worst 336 hits across 40 games this season. MVSU has yet to announce their probable starters for the two games.
The Delta Devils' pitching problems could not have come at a better time for Alabama. The Tide put on a hitting clinic in their Saturday win over Missouri, which included home runs from Casey Hughston, Georgie Salem, and Kyle Overstreet. Hughston now leads the team in batting average (.358), hits (54), home runs (5), and RBIs (30). Mikey White, Overstreet, and J.C. Wilhite are all batting over .300 with Cody Henry right behind them at .299.
Hopefully Mitch Gaspard will not have to rely too heavily on the hitting game. Game one probable starter Nick Eicholtz (2-0, 2.19 ERA, 15 SO, 9 BB) played exceptionally well in last Tuesday's win over UAB and will look to pick up his third win of the year. Game two probable starter Will Carter (1-5, 5.40 ERA, 25 SO, 26 BB) will be getting his first Tuesday night start. Carter was replaced by freshman Jake Walters in the starting pitching rotation last weekend.
Facing off against Eicholtz and Carter will be a MVSU lineup that has had its ups and downs. The Devils' batting statistics have remained middle of the pack in the SWAC. First baseman Brady McBride leads the team in batting average (.351). Outfielder Kalik May, a Tuscaloosa County High School alum, leads MVSU in hits (44), RBIs (22), runs scored (27), and triples (5).
Alabama leads the all-time series 20-1 over Mississippi Valley State with the Tide's only loss coming in 2012. The first game of the doubleheader will begin at 2:00 pm with the second game immediately following. Up next, Alabama travels to Oxford to take on Ole Miss in a three game series.