Thursday, March 03, 2005
Current Team Notes
There’s a first time for everything, or in the case of the Alabama softball team this weekend, there’s a first time for several things.
Seventh ranked Alabama (19-2) is making its first ever appearance outside the continental United States this weekend as the Tide plays in the Pepsi-Cola Malihini Kipa Aloha Tournament in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Not only will it be the first time Alabama has set foot on any of the Hawaiian Islands, but the Crimson Tide is facing a bevy of first time opponents as well. Of the five concrete games on Alabama’s tournament schedule, the Tide has never seen four of its opponents including Delaware St. (4-2), Portland St. (2-4), Mount St. Mary’s (0-0) and the host school Hawaii (6-6).
Bama will also face-off against second ranked California (11-1), a team they have met twice in the past, splitting the two games. The Golden Bears won the initial meeting in 1999, 2-0, while the Crimson Tide claimed the last game, 4-2, in the 2003 NFCA Leadoff Classic.
Alabama comes into the tournament off a 3-1 finish and silver bracket championship at this year’s Leadoff Classic. Pitching has carried Alabama thus far this season as the staff has the third lowest ERA in the SEC at 1.26 led by junior Stephanie VanBrakle who has a 0.90 ERA, the fifth lowest in the conference. All three Alabama pitchers rank in the Top 10 in the SEC in strikeouts, VanBrakle is third with 89, freshman Chrissy Owens ranks sixth with 55 and senior Jennifer Wright ranks seventh with 52.
The Tide will open the tournament with the Delaware St. Hornets on Thursday at 6:00 p.m. CT. Friday action has Alabama taking on Portland State at 1:00 p.m. CT and Mount St. Mary’s at 5:00 p.m. CT. The Tide will play the second ranked Golden Bears on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. CT followed immediately by Alabama vs. Hawaii at 9:00 p.m. CT. Bracket play will then begin on Sunday all day with the championship game scheduled for 9:00 p.m. CT.