Tide earns NCAA berth; heading to Tallahassee

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The University of Alabama baseball team has earned the No. 3 seed at the 2011 NCAA Tallahassee Regional, the NCAA Division Baseball Committee announced on Monday.

Joining Alabama (33-25) in the four-team field are No. 1 seed Florida State (41-16), No. 2 seed Central Florida (38-21), and No. 4 seed Bethune-Cookman (35-22). The Seminoles are the No. 5 national seed in this year's tournament. The winner of the Tallahassee Regional will play the winner of the College Station Regional in the Super Regionals next week.

"It feels good to see our name up there, but it's a really tough regional," UA head coach Mitch Gaspard said. "We played Central Florida earlier in the season, so we know they have a really good club, and Florida State is a tough place to play. We're excited to be in and we have a lot of guys back from last year that played extremely well and won a regional. I think we're going to lean on that. We're excited to still be playing and this team deserves to continue on."

The double-elimination regional begins Friday, June 3 at 11 a.m. (CDT), when Alabama plays Central Florida at Mike Martin Field at Dick Howser Stadium. Florida State plays Bethune-Cookman on Friday at 5 p.m. (CDT).

Alabama is making its 22nd NCAA Regional appearance, its fourth straight, and its 14th in the last 17 years. The Crimson Tide was the No. 3 seed in the Conway Regional in 2008, the No. 2 seed in the Clemson Regional in 2009, and the No. 2 seed in the Atlanta Regional last year.

Second-year head coach Mitch Gaspard is making his third NCAA Regional appearance and second straight with the Crimson Tide. In Gaspard's first season at the Capstone, he led the Tide to an Atlanta Regional Championship, defeating the No. 8 overall seed Georgia Tech. Gaspard also took Northwestern (La.) State to the 2005 NCAA Baton Rouge Regional, where the Demons posted a 1-2 record with a win over Marist.

Alabama and Central Florida will be meeting for the 11th time overall and second time this season. The Knights defeated the Crimson Tide, 12-4, in the South Alabama Classic on Feb. 27 to improve to 6-4 all-time against Alabama.

Alabama is 1-6 all-time versus Florida State, but have not played the Seminoles since the 1991 Atlantic Regional. That year, FSU defeated the Crimson Tide twice in the regional, with the second win coming in the championship game by a final score of 6-5.

The Crimson Tide has yet to take the field against Bethune-Cookman in baseball. Bethune-Cookman made the field of 64 with an automatic bid by winning the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Championship.

Alabama is one of seven SEC teams to receive an NCAA Tournament bid. Florida is the No. 2 seed overall, while South Carolina is the No. 4 national seed and Vanderbilt collected the No. 6 overall seed in the tournament.

Alabama posted an 11-15 record against teams in the 2011 NCAA Tournament. The list of opponents to make this year's tournament field includes Alcorn State (3-0), Arkansas (3-2), Central Florida (0-1), Florida (0-4), Georgia (0-1), Mississippi State (2-1), South Carolina (1-2), Southern Mississippi (1-1), Troy (1-0), and Vanderbilt (0-3).