Crimson Tide holds practice at Atlanta Regional

ATLANTA, Ga. – The Alabama baseball team practiced at Russ Chandler Stadium and met with the media on Thursday as preparations continue for the 2010 NCAA Atlanta Regional on the Georgia Tech campus.

Alabama, Elon, Georgia Tech and Mercer all practiced for 75 minutes as the teams prepare for the NCAA Tournament.

No. 2 seed Alabama and No. 3 seed Elon will meet on Friday, June 4 at 2:06 p.m. (CDT), followed by No. 1 seed Georgia Tech and No. 4 seed Mercer at 6:06 p.m. (CDT). Georgia Tech is the national No. 8 seed in this year's 64-team field. All seven games at the NCAA Atlanta Regional will be televised by Comcast Sports Southeast (CSS) with Matt Stewart and Rusty Ensor providing commentary.

Alabama will send junior right-hander Nathan Kilcrease to the mound on Friday against the Phoenix.  Kilcrease is 6-2 with a 2.47 ERA this season.

Elon will counter with junior left-hander Jimmy Reyes, who has compiled a 10-3 record and 3.97 ERA.  He is coming off a 1-0 complete-game win over Samford in the Southern Conference Tournament and is fourth all-time at Elon with 236 career strikeouts.

All four teams also participated in a pre-tournament meeting on Thursday night to go over the stadium's ground rules and NCAA Tournament legislation.

Head Coach Mitch Gaspard

On playing in NCAA Atlanta Regional:

"We are obviously very excited to be here at the Atlanta Regional at Georgia Tech, especially considering where we were at three weeks ago.  Obviously the momentum and the roll that we are on now from the Tennessee series and into the SEC Tournament, but also to be four hours from home and to be able to take a bus and our fans have the opportunity to see us play this weekend is tremendous.

"One thing I will say about this team. This team has been through a lot this year.  The grind of the season is one thing.  We fought through injuries and now the David Kindred situation.  I cannot say enough about the young men on our team, the character they have shown through the course of this year.  The one thing we've talked about all year is to stay the course and stay with it and the game has a chance to come back in your favor and that's what happened the last three week.

"I am really, really proud to be the coach of these guys and the way they have handled themselves on and off the field.  I've been coaching 23 years and truly never been through a year like this one with all the many things this team has had to handle and the way they have handled it has been tremendous for a young group of guys."

On keys to playing well in the postseason:

"The key right now in postseason is you have to have great starting pitching, you've got to really defend it and you have to have timely hitting and that's what we're getting right now.  We got that in Hoover for the SEC Tournament and we need for that to carry on over into the regionals here."

Junior RHP Nathan Kilcrease

On starting game one of NCAA Regional:

"I am excited. I figured I might get the nod on the first day after Jimmy (Nelson) pitched again on Sunday (vs. LSU) and I had the most rest.  This is the most rest I've had coming into a start. I'm very excited and my arm feels really good."

On the keys to your success:

"Hard work and sticking with the game plan throughout this process that Coach (Kyle) Bunn gave to us early in the season. He said it was not going to be easy and we had to keep going and keep grinding and things would get tough, but as our team has done all year, we persevere and get through it.  As a pitching staff, we have peaked at the right time."

Junior SS Josh Rutledge

On Ross Wilson's role:

"He is definitely one of our leaders.  We know what to expect every time he comes to the field and he gives his all every game.  He is one of the big reasons why we are here."

On the pitching staff's success the last three weeks:

"I think we realized what needed to happen and we just gained confidence from each and every game and we knew our pitchers were going to go out and give us a great start and that gave us momentum to play well each and every game."

On the teams' confidence heading into the Regional:

"I think we are coming into this regional with more confidence that any other team I have been on at Alabama.  Our pitching has done great the past couple of weeks and I think they are going to continue to carry us and that takes a lot of pressure off our team.

Sophomore CF Taylor Dugas

On the pitching staff's success the last three weeks:

"The pitching has carried us. Whenever we get a good start like that on the mound, as hitters it makes our job a lot easier. When you get a good start and good pitching, it just makes the game a whole lot easier."

On the momentum gained from SEC Tournament and playing in front huge crowds each day:

"The SEC Tournament was awesome playing in front of all those crowds.  That was right in our back yard and it gave us a lot of energy and motivated us to play well.  We are going to carry that same energy into this tournament when we start playing tomorrow."

INFORMATION SOURCE: University of Alabama Athletics