School’s out and the Texas A&M baseball team is packing its bags to begin summer vacation with a road series against Alabama this weekend.
“It’s definitely a breath of fresh air,” junior outfielder Logan Foster said. “All we get to focus on now is baseball since school’s out of the way. Coach says it every day, this is the best time of the year.”
With two weeks left in the regular season, Alabama (28-21) currently sits in a tie for 12th place in the SEC standings, trying to secure a spot in the SEC tournament, which features just 12 teams.
“Alabama is just like every other team in the league. They’re fighting for postseason positioning, and we’re all fighting for maybe something a little but different, but they’re certainly fighting to get to the SEC tournament,” head coach Rob Childress said.
The players, too, are aware of how vital this weekend is for the Crimson Tide’s postseason hopes, especially since they have won just one conference series all season.
Likewise, the No. 17 Aggies (32-17-1) are trying to end their recent struggles, having lost their last two weekend series against Ole Miss and Mississippi State after being ranked as high as No. 7 on April 16.
“The coaches said they were really desperate going into this series,” junior outfielder Ty Condel said. “We’re going to get their best and they’re going to get our best. It’s going to be a great matchup for us. Hopefully we find a way to stay committed, stick together and find a way to come out on top.”
A&M should be well rested though, having not played a mid-week game this week, something Childress intentionally did when creating the schedule.
“We did it on purpose, getting the mid-week games done early in the season where these last three weeks we don’t have a mid-week game and we can just focus on the weekends and pour out all of our energy into those games,” Childress said.
Still, A&M is trying to get the sour taste out of its mouth, sitting in a tie for seventh place in the SEC standings with Missouri while also trying to stay in contention to host a regional.
“We definitely feel fresh, but we definitely know we have some work that we’ve got to get done after the last two weekends,” Foster said.
A spark at the plate could soon come from junior Hunter Coleman, who could return this weekend after missing an anticipated six weeks after he broke his arm against Missouri on March 31.
Childress said Coleman is close to returning and might get a pinch-hit at-bat against Alabama. Childress added Coleman has worked dry swings, soft toss pitches and hit from a tee lately.
“Hopefully he’ll get to take some more swings today, maybe a live [batting practice], so we’ll see how he responds to that,” Childress said of Coleman. “It’s just your timing and seeing the pitches thrown live. He’s stood in on a lot of bullpens, but he hasn’t certainly taken any swings at this point live.”
The Aggies are in need of a boost at the plate, having averaged 2.1 runs per game in their last two weekend series, going 1-5. Braden Shewmake has batted lead-off for the Aggies the past four games, but Childress said he could return to his usual three-hole spot this weekend.
“We all just need to be committed to one approach,” Foster said. “Not try to do too much at the plate and pass it onto the next guy. I think if we do that, we’ll be golden.”
A&M and Alabama are set to begin a three-game series Friday night at 6 p.m. The series will continue Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m., with the concluding game being aired on SEC Network.