The college baseball season begins on Friday, with teams from coast to coast putting their best foot forward hoping their season will end in Omaha at the College World Series. As one prominent program looks to rebuild under a first-year head coach, a former Dirtbag will be called upon to carry the bell with high expectations.
Cobie Vance enters his junior season in Tuscaloosa drawing praise from Southeastern Conference coaches. The SEC announced its preseason All-SEC team last week, with the native of Fayetteville, N.C., picked to the first team by conference coaches, viewed the best at his position, in what many feel is college baseball’s premier conference. For first-year head coach Brad Bohannon, Vance is a two-way talent capable of leading the Crimson Tide in the field, while also serving a a key cog in Alabama’s lineup, as Alabama looks to return to its days of glory.
Vance has started every game of his Alabama career, entering the 2018 season with 112 career stars. Last year, Vance finished third on the team with a .293 average, showing a good batting eye in drawing 24 walks while striking out only 24 times in 208 at-bats, to post a .360 on-base percentage. In the field, Vance showed a sure glove in keeping opposing batters off the bases, committing just five errors in 283 chances for a .982, leading the SEC with 40 turned double plays.
Vance’s strong second season was on the heels of a solid season as a freshman, when he was one of two players to start all 58 games for Alabama, batting .253 with three doubles and seven home runs.
A product of Pine Forest High School, Vance was a 16th-round draft pick in the 2015 draft by the Cleveland Indians. Keeping his status as a top prospect, Vance batted .279 in 38 games for the Harwich Mariners in the prestigious Cape Cod League this past summer, earning all-star honors. Prior to Vance’s standout summer, last April, the Fayetteville Observer highlighted Vance as a rising SEC star, a future predicted well.
Vance and Alabama open the 2018 season with a three-game series at home against Valparasio.