Top-Ranked Softball Heads to FGCU Tournament



Feb. 14, 2013

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The top-ranked Alabama softball team (5-0) will return to the road to play in the FGCU/ LaQuinta Inn and Suites Tournament in Fort Myers, Fla., hosted by Florida Gulf Coast. Alabama will face off against Appalachian State, Wichita State, Georgia Southern, Southern Illinois and tourney host, FGCU. Alabama opens tournament play against Appalachian State at 12:30 p.m., on Friday, February 15.

The Last Meeting
Southern Illinois0(5)
February 27, 2009
Columbus, Ga.
Three Home Runs Powers Softball to 8-0 Win
The No. 1 ranked Alabama softball team belted three home runs to power its way to an 8-0 win over No. 19/22 ranked Southern Illinois Friday afternoon at the South Commons Softball Complex. The Crimson Tide was once again efficient at the plate, scoring eight runs on nine hits to hand the Salukis (11-1) their first loss of the season. Alabama improves to 13-1 on the year and 21-5 in Leadoff Classic play.

The Crimson Tide opened its season by winning the UNI-Dome Classic in Cedar Falls, Iowa. UA earned five wins on the opening weekend. UA outscored its opponents, 43-12, scoring eight or more runs in four of the five games. The Tide hit .384, smashed nine home runs and stole 20 bases. In the circle, Alabama pitched at a 2.12 clip, striking out 38 in 33 innings. Opponents hit .230 against the Tide hurlers.

Alabama freshman outfielder Haylie McCleney put together one of the best opening weekends in Tide history. In her first collegiate action, McCleney batted .722 (13-for-18) with nine runs, four RBI, two doubles, a triple, two home runs, two walks and five stolen bases. McCleney reached base three or more times in each contest and had three hits in four of the five games. The fleet-footed centerfielder also scored at least one run every game and stole one base or more in four of the games on top of playing stellar defense.

The Appalachian State softball squad concluded the 2012 season with a 22-25 record. The Mountaineers took a 6-7 record at home and a 9-13 mark in conference play. They return five starters and four additional letterwinners. Senior outfielder Allie Cashion leads the team into the 2013 season coming off of a .396 average in 2012 as well as leading the team in RBI with 51, home runs with 16 and slugging percentage .836.  Shae Wesley enters her third season at the head coach of the Appalachian State softball program, tallying a 48-49 record.

The Wichita State Shockers travel to Fort Myers on a 1-3 record thus far in the season. Junior Ali Vandever leads the team with a .500 average, collecting two RBI, and a run off of six hits. Junior Sloan Anderson heads up the Shockers circle play with a 1.40 ERA and striking out 12 batters in 15 innings. Wichita State sees Kristi Bredbenner at the helm for her second season, compiling a 16-43 overall record and 7-20 in conference action.

Georgia Southern comes into the FGCU Tournament having a record of 3-1 so far this season in their 2013 Eagle Round Robin Tournament. The Eagles return seven starters from their 2012 campaign, including juniors Shelby Morrill and Kourtny Thomas. Morrill has started the year strong leading the team at the plate with a .455 average while Thomas, with a .400, has hit two home runs and six RBI. Junior Sarah Purvis carries the Eagles in the circle with a 1.11 ERA, having struck out 31 batters in 19 innings. Head Coach Annie Smith enters her second year in charge of the Eagles, coming off of a SoCon Championship in her first season and tallying a 45-21 mark so far in Statesboro.

The Southern Illinois Salukis are 3-2 after their season debut at the Dot Richardson Invitational in Clermont, Fla. Sophomore Meredith Wilson begins the season leading the Salukis with a .500 average including a home run and four RBI. Senior pitcher Brittney Lang has taken charge on the mound with a 1.35 ERA striking out 18 batters in 20 2/3 innings. Kerri Blaylock returns for her 14th season in Carbondale, leading the Missouri Valley Conference with a 488-226 record as head coach.

The tournament host, Florida Gulf Coast, enters their first week of play coming off of a 38-24 showing in the 2012 season, going 14-4 in conference play. Junior Chelsea Zgrabik finished last season with a .329 average, leading the team in home runs with 13 and RBI with 53. Sophomore Shelby Morgan returns to the circle for the Eagles after posting a 1.55 ERA and a 23-8 record in her freshman campaign. In his now 11th season with the Eagles, David Deiros has built a record of 420-167-2 with seven seasons earning 35 or more wins.

Appalachian State
: This will be the first meeting between the Tide and the Mountaineers.

Wichita State: The Tide and the Shockers have met only once before. The March 28, 1997 game between the two teams provided a 5-4 loss for the Tide in the Georgia Tech Invitational. Freshman Kristy Kyle contributed two hits including a home run and two RBI, but it was not enough to overcome Wichita’s total of seven hits and five RBI.

Georgia Southern: Alabama and Georgia Southern have met four previous times with Alabama leading the series 4-0. The two previous meetings were back-to-back games on Feb. 5, 2005 in the 2005 Bama Bash. In her junior season for the Tide, Stephanie VanBrakle pitched seven innings in the last game against Georgia Southern facing 23 batters and striking out 12, walking none and allowing only one hit, leading the Tide to a 6-0 victory.

Southern Illinois: This will be the fifth meeting between the Tide and the Salukis. The last time the two teams met was Feb. 27, 2009 when Alabama belted three home runs to earn its way to an 8-0 win over the then No. 19/22 ranked Southern Illinois Salukis. After scoring one run in the first inning the power hitting began in the second inning when freshman Cassie Reilly-Boccia hit her first career homerun. Senior Kelley Montalvo and Junior Charlotte Morgan followed Reilly-Boccia’s lead with two more home runs in the inning. Morgan rounded out her game with a stellar performance in the circle, tossing a five inning shutout behind three strikeouts and two hits.

Florida Gulf Coast: This will be the first time Alabama has faced, tournament host, Florida Gulf Coast.

Alabama outfielder Haylie McCleney (Morris, Ala.) was named the Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week, the league office announced on Feb. 11. McCleney helped lead the Crimson Tide to an undefeated 5-0 record at the UNI-Dome Classic this past weekend. McCleney put together one of the best opening weekends in Tide history. In her first collegiate action, McCleney batted .722 (13-for-18) with nine runs, four RBI, two doubles, a triple, two home runs, two walks and five stolen bases. She reached base three or more times in each contest and had three hits in four of the five games. She also scored at least one run every game and stole one base or more in four of the games on top of playing stellar defense.

Four members of the Crimson Tide will be returning to their home state of Florida and two will return very close to home when UA heads to Fort Myers for the FGCU/LaQuinta Inn and Suites Tournament. Juniors Jackie Traina and Ryan Iamurri are from Naples, while Keima Davis is from Deerfield Beach and Lauren Sewell prepped at Pembroke Pines. All four earned All-America honors during their high school careers.

In the opening weekend of the season the Alabama freshman class showed no signs of needing to get acclimated to the college game. The four freshmen combined to hit .622 (23-for-37) with 11 stolen bases and 17 runs. Haylie McCleney led the charge with a .722 average, adding nine runs, two home runs and five stolen bases. The top recruit in the country, Andrea Hawkins, hit .857 (6-for-7) with five runs scored, and RBI and five stolen bases. Kallie Case hit .500 (4-for-8) with three runs and a stolen base.

Alabama pitcher Lauren Sewell returned to the circle for the first time since suffering a season-ending knee injury on March 23, 2012 against DePaul. The right-hander made two appearances in the opening weekend of the 2013 season, sporting a 1.83 ERA in 7 2/3 innings. Sewell has allowed eight hits, two runs and struck out five.

After the first week of season play the Alabama softball team ranks high in most categories in the SEC. With a team total of 20 stolen bases Alabama takes first in the SEC for stolen bases and stolen bases attempted having not been thrown out once. Alabama also is at the top of the total base category with 89. Alabama takes second after the first week in total hits with 53. The Tide comes in third in the conference with a .384 team batting average, putting up 43 total runs as well as 39 RBI. The pitching effort by the Tide takes third in total batters struck out with 38 and batters struck out looking with 12.

Freshman Haylie McCleney takes SEC Freshman of the Week after her performance in the first week of play, earning the top spot in the SEC in hits with 13 and total bases with 23. The freshman comes in second in batting average with .722, slugging percentage with 1.278 and tied for second in stolen bases with fellow Tide freshman Andrea Hawkins with five a piece. McCleney’s .750 on base percentage earns her third in the conference. Senior Kayla Braud is ranks first in stolen bases with six while senior Keima Davis is ranked first in RBI with 11 and second in home runs with three. After the first week, junior Jackie Traina is first in the SEC in batters struck out with 24 and second in batters struck out looking with seven.

The Alabama softball team remains on the top of the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 poll for the first week of the season with 21 first place votes. The Tide fell to second in the Softball poll to second place behind Oklahoma (5-0) who received 12 points to Alabama’s eight.

The Alabama softball radio broadcasts will make the move to the Crimson Tide Sports Network in 2013. Chad Haynie, entering his fourth year broadcasting UA softball, will provide play-by-play coverage. The flagship station for softball in Tuscaloosa will be 99.1 WDGM. Fans can listen worldwide at or on any iPhone or Android device with the radioPup app. Links will also be available on

Alabama senior outfielder Kayla Braud, junior infielder Kaila Hunt and junior pitcher Jackie Traina have been selected for the “Watch List” for the 2013 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award by Amateur Softball Association of America.

The Alabama softball team garnered three selections as the Southeastern Conference unveiled its fifth annual Preseason All-SEC team. Those selected to the team were senior Kayla Braud and juniors Jackie Traina and Kaila Hunt.

The Alabama softball team is predicted to win the Southeastern Conference, as voted upon by the conference coaches, the league office announced. Alabama got the nod with eight first place votes with Tennessee coming close behind with five votes.

Alabama will travel to Birmingham for a single game against UAB on Feb. 19, with first pitch scheduled at 6 p.m. CT, before returning to Tuscaloosa to open up the Easton Bama Bash against Western Illinois. The Tide will also host Iowa and Winthrop in the Feb. 22-24 tournament.