Apr 03, 2023

Is there a good

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama baseball players claim their camouflage hats are just a nice look, but the good-luck charm has stood out during the Crimson Tide's recent run.

It started during last month's home series against Vanderbilt as part of Alabama's salute to military service. After opening the series with a win in its traditional crimson caps, the Crimson Tide wore American flag hats for its Game 2 loss against the Commodores.

Then came the camo.

Donning its new favorite headwear, Alabama pulled out a 2-1 victory in Game 3 to claim a crucial series win over the nation's No. 5 ranked team at the time. It didn't stop there, either.

Wearing its crimson hats, Alabama dropped the opener of its three-game series at Texas A&M the following weekend. From there, the Tide decided to break out the camo hats for the remainder of the series. The result — two wins by a combined score of 23-1.

There was no turning back.

Alabama closed out its regular season with a three-game sweep over Ole Miss before opening the SEC Tournament with a win over Kentucky, all while donning the camo hat. The luck finally wore off in an 11-inning loss to Florida, but Alabama was still able to beat Auburn the following day before exiting the tournament with a loss to Vanderbilt.

That was enough to earn the Crimson Tide the No. 16 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament and allow it to host a regional for the first time since 2006. Over the weekend, Alabama swept through Nicholls, Troy and Boston College for its first regional title since 2010.

Any guess as to what the Tide was wearing? Yep, camo again.

When asked Tuesday, outfielder Andrew Pinckney said there might have been some superstition involved when the trend started. However, the switch in style really just came down to aesthetics.

"I think now it's just we like the camo hats more than the red hats," Pinckney said with a smile. "I don't know, I let everyone else make that decision for me."

Fair enough, but Alabama's 11-2 record in the hats is hard to ignore.

"I think we’re just going with the look at this point," starting pitcher Garrett McMillan said. "Just like the way they look a little better. We play good in them, so that helps as well."

Alabama deserves a tip of any type of cap for how it's overcome adversity this season.

Since former head coach Brad Bohannon was fired on May 4 for his involvement in a betting scandal, interim head coach Jason Jackson has led the team to a 13-4 record. Now Alabama sits two wins away from its first College World Series appearance since 1999.

"These guys impress me more every single day," Jackson said. "Every day we come to the ballpark, and there's something new that these guys do… just the way that they handled everything and just the fight and the resilience and the way they can focus and block things out and the way they play together. … Each day, I come to the ballpark, and I’m more impressed than I was the day before."

It's fitting that Alabama (43-19) will be wearing camo this weekend as the Crimson Tide travels to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, for its biggest battle of the season — a best-of-three super regional series against No. 1 overall seed Wake Forest (50-10).

The Demon Deacons lead the nation with a 2.78 earned-run average and are coming off a dominating regional performance in which they outscored their opponents a combined 48-7 over three wins. Still, the way Alabama is playing at the moment gives Tide players reason to like their chances at pulling the upset.

"It's not going to be anything we haven't done before," McMillan said. "It's gonna be something we're ready for, and something that we're excited for. I think we'll go out there and play our best game."

And hey, if the Tide gets a little help from a lucky hat, that won't hurt either.