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FRIDAY, MAY 4, 2007
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With bats awake, Tide travels to Florida

By Josh Cooper
jcooper@decaturdaily.com 340-2460

For most of the season, Alabama's baseball offense could have been likened to the water behind a dam. Sitting there, toiling, hopelessly stopped by an inanimate object.

Well, in the Tide's last four games — three of them wins — the water broke through, in a big way. The team has scored 34 runs, averaging 8.5 per game. In its three wins, the Tide averaged 11 runs per game.

So, why the sudden offensive explosion?

"Sometimes it's said hitting is contagious," said Alabama coach Jim Wells. "Good play is contagious. There is no rhyme or reason why some guys have struggled."

With the Tide (26-20, 10-11 Southeastern Conference) facing a tough road series against Florida (23-23, 10-11),
the bats are waking up at the right time.

One of the main contributors has been designated hitter Alex Avila.

The 6-foot, 205-pound sometimes-first baseman has given the Tide the kind of middle-of-the-order presence that it had been lacking and desperately needed.

During those four games, Avila has four home runs and 10 RBIs. He leads the team in both categories.

"At whatever level, you need some guy in the middle to be a force," Wells said. "And some people need to respect that position. Alex has done that, but he did it on a more consistent basis this past week."

While the lineup is stepping up, Alabama has continued to get solid pitching.

With the exception of the 10 runs that South Carolina scored Sunday, the Tide has not given up more than five runs in a game since April 21.

Wells announced that Alabama will continue with its 1-2 punch of hard throwing, right-handed pitcher Tommy Hunter starting Friday and left-hander Miers Quigley going Saturday.

Austin Hyatt will start Sunday.

But considering the way Alabama's offense has performed of late, the pitching may not have to be completely there for the Tide to win.

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