Five things to know about Alabama baseball before the Crimson Tide play in NCAA Tournament (2024)

Alabama baseball is headed to the Tallahassee Regional in the 2024 NCAA Tournament under first-year coach Rob Vaughn.

Alabama had a turbulent 2023 season. The Crimson Tide hosted its first regional since 2006, but the season was overshadowed by a gambling scandal that led to the firing of Brad Bohannon. After interim coach Jason Jackson guided the team through the Tuscaloosa Regional, Vaughn was chosen as the new head coach in June 2023, with Jackson staying on staff as the associate head coach and pitching coach.

In addition to its head coach, Alabama had to replace most of its lineup regulars from the 2023 team. With so much roster turnover and a head coach in his first season, Alabama still managed to win 13 games in a loaded Southeastern Conference.

Here are five things to know about Alabama baseball ahead of the NCAA Tournament:

More:What Alabama baseball coach Rob Vaughn said about changes since coaching in SEC

More:Alabama baseball will play in NCAA Tallahassee Regional: Here's who Tide will face

Nick Saban Commemorative Book:Relive Nick Saban's epic Alabama football coaching career with our special book!

Who is Alabama baseball coach Rob Vaughn?

A native of Humble, Texas, Vaughn played college baseball at Kansas State as a catcher from 2006-09. He was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 30th round in 2009 and spent two seasons in the organization. He returned to Kansas State as a student/volunteer assistant before joining Maryland as an assistant coach in 2013.

As an assistant, Vaughn was on the staff for the three winningest seasons in program history and was promoted to associate head coach in 2016. He was named the head coach in 2018 and elevated the Terrapins to new heights. In 2022, Maryland set a program record for wins with a 48-14 record. The Terps won Big Ten regular season titles in 2022 and 2023 and won the first Big Ten Tournament in program history in 2023. Vaughn was named the Big Ten Coach of the Year in both of those seasons.

Vaughn was named the 33rd head coach in Alabama baseball history on June 12, 2023. He and his wife, Kayleigh, have two sons, Wyatt and Beau.

What are Rob Vaughn's "three pillars" for Alabama baseball?

Part of the job of a new head coach is to instill a culture among his team. Vaughn wasted no time in doing so at Alabama, as he has preached the importance of the three characteristics he deems necessary for a strong culture since he arrived in Tuscaloosa.

"We have three pillars that we hang our hats on: ownership, toughness and grit," Vaughn said at his first spring practice with Alabama. "We talk about that stuff every day because you're going to have days where you have your stuff and it's easy, but those days are few and far between."

The three pillars are represented on the field by the team captain, who is assigned to wear the number 3 on his jersey. This year, that captain was outfielder Evan Sleight. Sleight's embodiment of the three pillars was put on display this season, as he relinquished his lineup spot to the red-hot William Hamiter after Hamiter took over for a sick Sleight at Mississippi State.

"When I talked to Evan before the (LSU) game to tell him I was going to start Hammy, he was the first one to say, 'Yep. That's what you should do,'" Vaughn said following an 8-7 win over LSU on May 10. "That's the kind of teammate, the kind of captain he is."

Five things to know about Alabama baseball before the Crimson Tide play in NCAA Tournament (2)

What is Alabama baseball's record in 2024?

Alabama finished its first season under Vaughn with a 33-22 record. The Crimson Tide went 13-18 in SEC play. Alabama performed significantly better at home than on the road, posting a record of 22-8 at Sewell-Thomas Stadium but went 8-12 on the road. Alabama finished 3-2 in four neutral site games.

Who are Alabama baseball's key players?

Third baseman Gage Miller has emerged as an offensive superstar for the Tide. He leads the team with a .381 average and a 1.189 OPS. He also has the team lead in home runs with 18 and RBIs with 56. Miller was named a Dick Howser Trophy semifinalist along with center fielder T.J. McCants, who has 14 home runs and 49 RBIs this season, both second on the team.

Freshman shortstop Justin Lebron has also enjoyed a breakout campaign, as he was named to the All-SEC first team, freshman team and defensive team.

Who are Alabama baseball's key pitchers?

Alabama's weekend starting trio consists of Louisville transfer Greg Farone, freshman all-SEC lefty Zane Adams and team veteran Ben Hess. Two-way player Kade Snell has emerged as the midweek starter while serving as the designated hitter. Braylon Myers, Matthew Heiberger and Tyler Fay are Alabama's primary relievers. Alton Davis II, usually a late-game closer, has also put together long relief outings this season, most recently in Alabama's SEC Tournament loss to South Carolina.

Five things to know about Alabama baseball before the Crimson Tide play in NCAA Tournament (2024)
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