The college baseball season is only two days young, and a trio of former Cullman standouts are already making waves for their respective teams.
Chase Mallard, a member of the Bearcats' 2008 state title squad, began his senior season at UAB with a bang Friday, striking out a career-high 13 batters in a 5-0 win over UT-Martin. The fireballer didn't allow a hit and walked one batter. Every K was recorded on a whiff.
The start was Mallard's eighth with the Blazers. He made 21 appearances and fanned 56 foes in 2013, both team highs.
“It was a pretty good pitching matchup,” UAB coach Brian Shoop said in a press release. “There were several scouts in to see their guy (Taylor Cox). You know how much confidence we have in Chase, and our guy was a little better, just a little.”
Ben Moore is already off to a two-game hit streak through two games of his junior campaign at Alabama. The smooth-swinging right fielder, who holds a host of Black and Gold season records, was 1 for 3 with a double for the Tide's lone run in a 2-1 season-opening loss to St. Louis on Saturday. Moore, Alabama's RBI leader (41) in 2013, finished 1 for 4 with a run and an RBI on a sacrifice fly in a 4-3 win the following day.
Last but not least is Keegan Thompson, who's expected to be a key piece of Auburn's starting rotation as a freshman. The Tigers are taking advantage of his talents at the plate, too, utilizing the former Cullman shortstop/ace at first base when he's not on the hill.
The state's reigning Mr. Baseball had a hand in Auburn's 4-0 season-opening win Friday over Indiana State. Thompson closed out his debut 1 for 4 with a run and pushed a man across with a squeeze bunt.
The victory was the Tigers' first of the Sunny Golloway era.
Auburn (1-1) will finish up at the Snowbird Classic in Port Charlotte, Fla., on Sunday against Connecticut. Thompson will make his first collegiate start, with first pitch set for 10 a.m.
Prep baseball and softball season opens Monday for all teams across the state.
% The Times' sports editor Rob Ketcham contributed to this report.