May 24, 2009
University of Alabama baseball coach Jim Wells is set to hear that one of his teams has been invited to an NCAA Regional for the 15th time when the pairings are announced Monday.
In a 20-year coaching career that began at Northwestern State in 1990, Wells is no stranger to success by owning five regular-season SEC or Southland Conference championships and eight SEC or Southland postseason titles.
Wells is set to take the Crimson Tide to a regional for the 12th time in 15 seasons. Three of his Alabama teams have made it to the College World Series (1996, 1997, 1999).
He was chosen the SEC Coach of the Year two times, the last time in 2002 when the Crimson Tide had a 51-15 record.
As the dean of SEC baseball coaches, Wells has gained respect from his peers from around the league.
"I just have great admiration for the job he''s done for a long time," South Carolina coach Ray Tanner said. "I''m a big fan of Coach Wells. I''ve had an opportunity to visit with him a couple of years when we''ve played and we''ve had some good conversations. I''ve often talked to him, tried to get some things from him and ask how he does things."
Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin met Wells for the first time when he was an assistant at Clemson. Wells'' Alabama teams lost to Clemson 7-4 in the 1995 East Regional and again 14-13 in the 1996 College World Series.
"He''s had great teams," Corbin said of Wells. "I like him and he''s got a very good personality. He''s dry and funny and I like that part about him. He doesn''t take himself too seriously which I admire. He''s done a nice job and I enjoy watching his teams play. They are tough to play."
Corbin got to experience that firsthand and probably didn''t enjoy watching the Crimson Tide play as much this season after his Commodores, who play for the SEC Tournament title today, suffered a sweep to Wells'' squad (10-4, 7-3, 7-6) in Nashville, Tenn.
Arkansas was also swept by Alabama (2-1, 8-6, 6-5) and coach Dave Van Horn said Wells understands how to handle a team.
"Jim has been good for this league," Van Horn said. "He''s been through the battles of this league. The team they have this year is outstanding. One through nine is such a threat. They''ve got good pitching and a lot of maturity."
It starts with SEC Player of the Year Kent Matthes, who set the Crimson Tide all-time home run mark during the SEC Tournament with his 28th of the season. The other All-SEC first teamers for Alabama were second baseman Ross Wilson, third baseman Jake Smith, shortstop Josh Rutledge and pitcher Austin Hyatt.
"He puts great teams together, which have the ability to get hot," Tanner said.
The Crimson Tide roster is made up of 10 seniors, 13 juniors, five sophomores and seven freshman.
Wells likes the balance and said the players he has been able to bring into the program over the last couple of years has been strong.
"Recruiting has been good," Wells said. "Alabama and some other states have some good players out. Recruiting is a life blood of it."
Although Alabama (37-19) was eliminated from this year''s SEC Tournament in two games, Wells has been satisfied with what has been accomplished up to this point of the season.
Wells doesn''t know how much longer he will coach. He is content to live each day and not look too far ahead.
"It''s hard to multi-task at my age so I''m doing one thing at a time," Wells said.