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SEC Baseball 2011 Preview: Alabama Crimson Tide

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RECORD LAST YEAR: 42-25
The Tide entered the SEC tournament as the seventh seed, then went all the way to the final game, an epic extra-innings loss to LSU. The Tide also won the Atlanta Regional before getting knocked out in the Clemson Super-Regional.
KEY LOSS: Clay Jones
One of three position players to start each of Alabama's games, Jones hit .313/.582/.439, Jones hit 17 home runs and walked 42 times. He wasn't much of a running threat, trying just four steals and grounding into a team-high seven double plays. But Jones was easily the biggest power threat on a team that actually got outslugged in 2010.
KEY RETURN: Taylor Dugas
The Tide's only Baseball America All-American in 2010, Dugas hit .395/.523/.525. He walked a team-leading 59 times, and stole 19 bases on 24 attempts. Dugas' batting average in SEC games was over .400.
TOUGHEST NON-CONFERENCE SERIES: vs. SOUTHERN MISS (3/2, 4/26)
The Tide have a relatively weak out-of-league schedule. And if you don't count the "non-conference" games against Georgia and Auburn -- and I don't -- it's hard to find a truly challenging team from outside of the SEC on Alabama's schedule. (Fans of some rival teams shouldn't be laughing.) So we'll go with the home-and-home against the Tide's only non-conference opponent who went to the tournament last year.
TOUGHEST SEC SERIES: at FLORIDA (4/22-4/24)
Florida is the clear favorite for the SEC Championship this year and a front-runner for the national title. Any team with a trip to Gainesville on the schedule is likely to point to that series as its toughest in the league.
GOING TO HOOVER? Maybe
The Tide lose 51 of their 66 home runs from 2010, meaning they have to find some power sources and pair it with a continuation of some of the successes they had from an uneven pitching staff. 
NCAAs? Iffy
A trip to the SEC tournament again could help the Tide go to the NCAAs; the SEC has enough cachet that almost everyone who goes to Hoover ends up in the postseason. But there's little margin for error unless the non-conference slate is unexpectedly strong.