The SEC season is finally upon us as Alabama comes to Dudy Noble for what should be a pretty good series. The Bulldogs are struggling to find an identity at the plate and need win two out of three to get back on track. After a 13-0 start, four losses in the last six games have quickly turned the momentum arrow in the wrong direction.
The Crimson Tide has failed to find any consistency all season and sit at 9-6. While they haven't lived up to their preseason hype, they are a team that is capable of getting hot at any time and competing for the SEC West. Bama has recruited with the best of them the past few seasons under Mitch Gaspard. Although Gaspard's teams haven't made a push for Omaha, they are consistently finding a place in the NCAA tournament. There's clearly a lot of talent on this team.
Without further ado, here are the players that will test the Bulldogs' patience this weekend.
Casey Hughston: Hughston is a do it all player, and he's one of the best in the SEC. After a productive freshman season in 2014, Hughston has really blossomed in his second year for the Crimson Tide. He is stroking the baseball, and that's putting it lightly. His .500 average leads the SEC, and he's already racked up 14 extra base hits, including 10 doubles, 2 triples, and 2 homeruns. He's also lightning quick running the bases, with seven steals in seven attempts. Hughston leads the league in batting average, hits, doubles, and RBI's. He hit .500 in two games against MSU last season.
Mikey White: White is now in his junior year and has been the face of the Alabama program the past few seasons. He has consistently been one of the better shortstops in the league, especially at the plate. White joins Hughston to provide some pop in the middle of the Crimson Tide lineup. He's second on the team with a .370 batting average and 13 extra base hits. He has a .987 fielding percentage, with only one error in the field. The good news for the Bulldogs is outside of Hughston and White, the Tide lineup has not been all that impressive. Even with Hughston's .500 average inflating the numbers, the team batting average sits at just .281.
Taylor Guilbeau: The senior lefty has started games for Alabama ever since his freshman season, so he has plenty of experience. While he was ok in his career up to this point, this season has been his best. Guilbeau has pitched deep into games and stymied opponents' bats. He has pitched 27 innings, which is second most of any player in the SEC, compiled a 2.67 ERA, with 28 strikeouts and 8 walks. He has limited opponents to a .189 batting average. Guilbeau is scheduled to go in game one against MSU ace Preston Brown.
Ray Castillo: After setting a school record for saves by a freshman and earning Freshman All-American honors in 2013, Castillo struggled as a sophomore. He had an ERA over 5.00 last season, but he has quickly returned to his freshman form. Castillo has been dominant in the back end of the bullpen. He is 1-0 with a 0.66 ERA in 13.2 innings, striking out 15 batters and walking just two. Opponents have hit .156 off the hard throwing right-hander. Castillo and closer Thomas Burrows are two very good pitchers that MSU will see at the end of tight games.