Feb. 23, 2012
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The No. 2 ranked Alabama softball team opens the home portion of the 2012 schedule by hosting the Easton Bama Bash Presented by Drash at Rhoads Stadium. The Crimson Tide will open tournament play with a doubleheader on Friday, Feb. 24, against East Carolina at 4 p.m., and North Dakota State at 6 p.m. On Saturday, UA will face off against East Carolina at 1:30 p.m., and NDSU at 4 p.m. Alabama will close tournament play on Sunday against Southern Illinois-Edwardsville at 1:30 p.m. The tournament will begin at 11 a.m., with NDSU slated to face SIUE.
LAST TIME OUT
Alabama completed its season opening road trip with a perfect 8-0 record after knocking off in-state rival UAB, 8-1, on Tuesday. Freshman Danae Hayes went 2-for-3 for the Tide and knocked in two runs, while junior Kayla Braud drew three walks, stole three bases, and scored twice. The Tide stole seven bases on the night, including two double steals. Sophomore Jackie Traina pitched five solid innings for the Tide, striking out nine batters and giving up one run on just two hits in improving to a perfect 6-0 record.
WHO TO WATCH
Senior Cassie Reilly-Boccia carried Alabama to three wins over the weekend at the SEC/ACC/Big XII Challenge. The New York native led the team in six offensive categories, including: a .667 average, six hits, seven RBI, a 1.000 slugging percentage, a .692 on base percentage and two walks. Reilly-Boccia got the tournament started off in impressive fashion as she batted 4-for-4, drove in three runs and reached base five times against No. 20 Georgia Tech. The four hits was a career high. She then drove in three more, reaching base in her first two at-bats in the win against Virginia Tech. Reilly-Boccia then hit her first home run of the season when she belted a solo shot off the scoreboard in a 3-1 win over No. 15 Oklahoma State. For the season, she is batting .421 (8-for-19) with a home run and eight RBI. Reilly-Boccia is tied for third in the Alabama career annals with 139 walks and ranks fifth with a .481 lifetime on base percentage.
SCOUTING EAST CAROLINA
The East Carolina Pirates will enter the Bama Bash with a 5-3 record after hosting two tournaments to open their season and defeating Hofstra 4-3 on Monday in a nonconference match up. This weekend will be the Pirates’ first road trip of the season. ECU opened last weekend with a 5-0 loss to No. 21 Louisville, but bounced back to knock off North Carolina-Greensboro, 2-1. The Pirates concluded their tournament with a 5-1 loss to Fordham. ECU is led at the plate by senior outfielder Suzanne Riggs, who is hitting at a .438 (7-for-16) clip with two home runs and six runs batted in. Sophomores Alex Fieldhouse and Jasmine Robbins lead the team in RBI with seven and six, respectively. Freshman pitcher Sarah Christian leads the Pirates in the circle with a 4-1 record in six appearances, with a 2.62 ERA in 29 1/3 innings pitched. ECU returns 12 letterwinners and eight starters from last season’s Conference USA Tournament champion and NCAA Regional finalist. East Carolina is led by Tracy Kee, who has posted a 664-337-1 record in her 16 seasons in charge.
SCOUTING NORTH DAKOTA STATE
The Bison of North Dakota State enter this weekend’s Bama Bash with a 6-4 record after finishing 3-2 in the Florida State Seminole Classic this past weekend. NDSU scored 21 runs in the five games while giving up 13. At the plate, freshman catcher/infielder Amanda Grable and senior outfielder Taylor Mortensen lead the team with identical .310 (9-for-29) batting averages. Grable has hit the team’s only home run on the year in addition to being tied with Mortensen and freshman outfielder Alex Sobrero with six runs batted in. Junior pitcher Whitney Johnson has posted a 4-2 record with a 1.18 ERA and five complete games in her seven appearances in the circle for the Bison. She has recorded 68 strikeouts, including a school record 19 in the season opener against Toledo, in her 41 2/3 innings of work. NDSU has won the past three Summit League championships, posting a 30-27 record last season during their third straight NCAA Tournament appearance. The Bison are led by Coach Darren Mueller, who has posted a 357-204 record in his 11 seasons at the helm.
SCOUTING SOUTHERN ILLINOIS-EDWARDSVILLE
The Southern Illinois-Edwardsville Cougars come to Tuscaloosa with a 5-3 record, fresh off a 3-1 weekend in the Bulldog Round Robin in Starkville, Miss. The Cougars split a pair of games against Mississippi State while sweeping two games against Mississippi Valley State. At the plate, the Cougars have six players hitting over .300 for the season, led by freshman infielder Kam Smallwood’s .500 (3-for-6) average in her six games. Senior outfielder Lindsey Barron has started all eight games and has hit at a .433 (13-for-30) clip with four runs batted in and seven runs scored. Junior catcher Samantha Stanicek has hit the Cougars’ only home run on the season, in addition to knocking in six runs. Junior pitcher Lindsey Coleman has posted a 3-0 record in her five appearances, with a 3.49 ERA and 13 strikeouts. Junior Amanda Lambrecht has gone 2-1 on the year, and leads the team with 14 strikeouts in her six appearances. The Cougars finished last season 28-30, which included earning a berth in their first ever Ohio Valley Conference Tournament in the program’s first season of eligibility in Division I. SUIE is led by Sandy Montgomery, who is in her 24th season in charge of the program. She has a record of 831-402-2 at SUIE.
East Carolina: This will be the third meeting between the two teams, with the series tied at one win apiece. In the last meeting, UA knocked off the Pirates, 8-0, in six innings in Feb. 2009. Sophomore Kelsi Dunne led the Tide with 12 strikeouts and allowed just one hit in her six innings of work, while Jazlyn Lunceford hit her first career home run for Alabama.
North Dakota State: This is the first meeting between the two schools.
Southern Illinois-Edwardsville: This is the first meeting between the two schools.
SEC TEAM STATS
Alabama is second in the SEC in team batting average, with a .376 (80-for-213) clip. The Tide is third in doubles, with 16 overall, and is second in the league with 13 home runs. UA leads the league with 28 stolen bases on the year. The Alabama pitching staff is third in the league with a 1.37 ERA, but they have also pitched the second-fewest innings out of the 12 teams (51 innings).
SEC INDIVIDUAL STATS
Several Tide players are atop the SEC leaderboard. Kayla Braud and Jazlyn Lunceford are in the top 10 of the league in hitting, with Braud hitting .500 (10-for-20) and Lunceford hitting .478 (11-for-23). Kaila Hunt leads the league with four home runs. Braud also leads the league with 13 stolen bases. Jennifer Fenton is tied for second with four doubles on the year and is fourth in stolen bases with eight. Jackie Traina leads the league with six wins and is second in strikeouts with 52. She is tied for first with four complete games.
BAMA BASH HISTORY
Except for 2010, The Crimson Tide has hosted the BAMA Bash every season since 1998. Alabama has taken a liking to the home cooking of the historically early season home tournament. Overall Alabama sports a 57-7 record in BAMA Bash play, including a perfect 32-0 mark since 2004. The last time the Crimson Tide fell in a BAMA Bash contest was in 2003 by the score of 4-0 to Southern Illinois. Alabama has lost just once in the tournament in the last 11 seasons.
Alabama has historically gotten off to fast starts and the 2012 campaign is no different as the Tide enters the weekend with a perfect 8-0 record. UA has started the season better than 5-0, eight times and has gotten off to at least a 10-0 start, seven times. The Tide has eclipsed the 20-win plateau twice, setting a school record with a 27-0 start in 2001. UA started 25-0 in 2007. Last year the Tide raced out to a 17-0 start.
Alabama put together one of its most successful seasons in front of the home faithful in 2011, posting a 25-1 record at Rhoads Stadium, with the only loss coming in the first game of the Super Regional against Stanford. UA has won 25 or more games at Rhoads Stadium, 11 times and 30 or more six times. The Tide finished 31-1 in 2009 and put together its most wins in 2007 with a 39-3 record. Overall Alabama has posted a 340-52 record at Rhoads Stadium and a 395-72 record in Tuscaloosa.
Alabama enters the season with one of the most experienced squads in the country. The Crimson Tide boasts six seniors that have combined to find time in 956 games and start 745 times. Five of the six seniors have started more than 100 games in their careers. Cassie Reilly-Boccia leads the senior class with 197 games played and 186 starts.
NEXT TIME OUT
Alabama will host the Easton Alabama Invite next weekend, welcoming Maryland, Massachusetts and UAB to Rhoads Stadium for the three day event. The Tide will open the tournament on Friday, March 2, against Maryland, with first pitch slated for 6:30 p.m.