The Owls head into Friday’s 7:05 game in Tuscaloosa with a veteran and deep pitching staff but many new position players.
The Crimson Tide? “They have a whole new pitching staff and older position players. Two of starters they are throwing against us are freshmen. We are kind of the direct opposite,” McCormack said.
Friday’s pitching matchup is an example of that, as the Owls have senior Ryan Garton on the mound, and Alabama going with freshman Taylor Guilbeau, who will be making his first college start.
FAU will have four or five new position players, depending on where McCormack puts Mike Albaladejo, while the Crimson Tide returns six position players from a team that made it into an NCAA regional last season.
“We don’t have a whole lot of guys who have played much,” McCormack said. “We have part-time players and now we have to see how they react being an every day player.”
Garton heads into the season as the No. 1 starter for the Owls, after going 5-4 with a 5.17 ERA last season. Junior Jake Meiers, who had two wins over Miami last season, is also back.
The bullpen is anchored by senior closer Hugh Adams, who had 10 saves in 2011. Hard-throwing junior R.J. Alvarez, who mad 15 starts last season, will start the season as a reliever for the Owls.
While McCormack feels his pitching is solid, he said he will have to wait and see what his offense and defense will be like since there will be a lot of new and untested players on the field.
The good news is that senior outfielder Alex Hudak returns. Hudak hit .360 to lead the Owls last season, and will be joined by Nathan Pittman, who hit .261in 2011.
The new outfielder is sophomore Geoff Jiminez of Pembroke Pines, who had nine at-bats last season.
The other new position players are freshman Mitch Morales of Wellingtoin gets the start at shortstop, junior Mark Nelson at first, and junior college transfer Kyle Newton at third.
McCormack still has to decide if he is going to keep Albadelejo at catcher, or move him to second base and have Mike Spano be the starting catcher. Spano is a power hitter and could give the offense a boost, and Albadelejo has played second base in summer leagues and performed well, according to McCormack.
If Albadelejo is catching, sophomore Robert Buckley of Coconut Creek would start at second.
FAU’s last appearance in Tuscaloosa was in 2002 at the regional hosted by Alabama and the Owls upset the top-seeded Crimson tide and went to the program’s only super regional appearance.