No. 1 Softball Heads to the Pacific Northwest

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM Alabama will head to the hometown of Kayla Braud this week.
Alabama will head to the hometown of Kayla Braud this week.

March 12, 2012

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The number one ranked Alabama softball team (21-0) will head to the Pacific Northwest for two midweek games. The Crimson Tide will face No. 15 ranked Oregon (18-3) on Tuesday, March 13 and then play Portland State (9-10) on Wednesday. First pitch against the Ducks is slated for 7 p.m. CT, while the game against the Vikings is set for an 8 p.m., start.

Alabama continued its winning ways as it improved to 21-0 on the season on the strength of a 4-0 week. UA concluded its homestand with a 7-3 victory over Samford before opening Southeastern Conference play at Kentucky over the weekend. Alabama downed Kentucky in nine innings in the opener, 3-1, and then run-ruled the Wildcats twice by the scores of 9-1 (5) and 12-2 (6), respectively. The Tide outscored its opponents 31-7 on the week, including 10-1 in the first inning. UA hit .355 with eight home runs and 29 RBI. The Tide pitched at a 1.81 clip, striking out 33 batters in 27 innings and holding opposing batters to a .218 average.

Crimson Tide junior third basemen Courtney Conley has returned from injury in a big way as she is hitting .462 (6-for-13) with three home runs and six RBI over the last four games. Conley ripped two home runs in the SEC series against Kentucky, including a ninth inning homer to help propel UA to an extra inning win. Over that span Conley is slugging 1.231, adding a double as four of her six weeks have been for extra bases.

Oregon enters the week on a nine-game winning streak as the Ducks sport an 18-3 overall record. UO won the Bayer Cropscience Tournament in Fresno, Calif., going 5-0 over the weekend. Oregon earned wins over Butler (6-0), Fresno State (5-4), UConn (9-3), Purdue (9-1) and San Diego State (6-0). Courtney Ceo leads the Ducks with a .435 (30-for-69) average, adding a team-high 23 runs scored. Kaylan Howard has provided the punch with five home runs and 23 RBI. Kailee Cuico has chipped in three home runs and 24 RBI. Jessica Moore is 12-3 with a 1.32 ERA in 15 starts in the circle. She has struck out 80 in 101 innings pitched. UO is led by head coach Mike White who is in his third season in Eugene. White has posted 96-40 record over that span.

Portland State enters the week with a 9-10 overall record. The Vikings have not played since March 4, when they closed out their four-day trip to the Highlander Classic in Riverside, Calif., with an 8-0, five-inning loss to the host Highlanders. The Vikings finished the tourney 2-3, losing twice to UC Riverside and also suffering a close 2-1 defeat to South Carolina. Their two victories came over Maine, 6-2, and UC Davis, 3-1. The Vikings are led by Karmen Holladay and her .339 (19-for-56) average. Holladay has also smashed five home runs and drive in 11. In the circle, Anna Bertrand is 7-5 with a 2.12 ERA in 12 starts. She adds 88 strikeouts in 92 2/3 innings. Head coach Tobin Echo-Hawk is in her fourth season at PSU and has compiled a 102-81 overall record.

Oregon: The two teams will be meeting for the fifth time on Tuesday. Alabama holds a 3-1 all-time series advantage. The two teams last met last season in Orlando, where the Tide earned a 10-0, run-rule victory. Jackie Traina went deep for the Tide, driving in three runs while Jennifer Fenton drove in two and scored twice in the win.

Portland State: The two programs are meeting for the third time with UA winning both meetings. The two teams last met on Feb. 29, 2008, in Seattle, Wash., where the Tide earned an 8-2 victory.

The Tide returns home to host its first Southeastern Conference series of the season as it will welcome Mississippi for a three game set that will start on Friday, March 16. The Saturday contest will air on ESPNU at 5 p.m. The two teams will close out the series on Sunday at 1:30 p.m.