March 18, 2014
This week, No. 9/7 Alabama (24-4) hosts Georgia State (12-12) in a midweek matchup at Rhoads Stadium on Wednesday, March 19. First pitch is set for 6:05 p.m. CT.
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SCOUTING GEORGIA STATE
Georgia State (12-12, 0-0 Sun Belt) - The Panthers are an even 12-12 heading into a pair of midweek matchups, which also includes a Tuesday home game against in-state foe Kennesaw State. Georgia State started the season at 11-6 before losing six straight over the last two weekends, finally snapping the streak with a 3-1 win over Coastal Carolina on Saturday. Sophomore infielder Taylor Anderson is the team leader at the plate, hitting .397 with 29 hits, including five doubles, three triples and four home runs. Junior first-baseman Lauren Coleman is close behind with a .366 average and a team-leading five home runs and 25 RBI. In the circle, senior Kaitlyn Medlam has seen the most time, throwing 81.0 innings with a 7-6 record and 3.02 ERA.
Alabama and Georgia State have only met four times in program history, with the Tide winning three of those meetings. The Panthers’ lone win in the series came during Alabama’s 2012 National Championship season, as they upset the then-second ranked Crimson Tide, 5-1, at Rhoads Stadium. Alabama won the rematch last season at Rhoads Stadium, earning a 9-1 run-rule victory. The top four in Alabama’s lineup each earned two hits, with Kayla Braud driving in three RBI on her first home run of the season.
LAST TIME OUT: ALABAMA SWEEPS OLE MISS ON THE ROAD
Alabama remains perfect in conference play after sweeping the Ole Miss Rebels in Oxford, Miss. last weekend. The Tide’s highest-scoring effort came in the first game, as Alabama defeated Ole Miss, 10-2, on Friday night. The Tide scored in all but one inning, including a big four-run first inning off a Molly Fichtner RBI single and a three-run homer by Jadyn Spencer. On Saturday, Alabama starter Leslie Jury pitched her seventh shutout of the season as she held the Rebels to just three hits in a 7-0 win to clinch the series. Hayile McCleney was a perfect 3-3 at the plate with three RBI. In the series finale, Alabama emphatically secured the sweep with a 9-2 victory that included four home runs, while McCleney went 2-4 to extend her hitting streak to 14 games.
MCCLENEY TOPS NCAA HITTING RANKS, TEAM HITTING AMONG TOP 10
In the latest round of NCAA stats, Tide sophomore Haylie McCleney sits at the top of the rankings in both batting average (.558) and on-base percentage (.667). If the season ended today, her .558 average would be a school record and would rank fifth all-time in NCAA history. She is one of only six players in the country with an average above .500 and Ole Miss’ RT Cantillo is the only other SEC player among that group, hitting .500. Her .667 on-base percentage is 50 points better than second-place Jessie Hutstetler of San Jose State at .617 and McCleney’s .896 slugging percentage ranks eighth nationally.
As a team, Alabama’s .341 average ranks 10th nationally and second in the SEC, only trailing Georgia at .349. The Tide have averaged 7.82 runs-per-game, which ranks fourth nationally. Three of the top four teams in scoring are in the SEC, as Auburn leads the nation at 8.86 and Arkansas is close behind at 8.25.
LONG BALL LIFTS TIDE OVER OLE MISS
The Alabama bats were on fire during last weekend’s Ole Miss series, as six different Tide players hit a home run over the weekend. Four of those came in Sunday’s game, marking just the second time this season that Alabama has hit four home runs in a game as they reached the same total against Grand Canyon at the Hillenbrand Invitational on Feb. 14. Kaila Hunt hit a two-run shot on Sunday, raising her season total to a team-leading seven, while McCleney’s solo shot on Friday brings her season total to six. Jadyn Spencer hit the first of the weekend, a three-run shot on Friday, while Leona Lafaele hit a soaring solo homer in Sunday’s finale. Molly Fichtner hit a solo home run on Sunday immediately following Hunt’s, and Peyton Grantham hit her first career long ball on Sunday, pinch-hitting in the seventh inning.
ON A RUN
Alabama’s offense has been key to its early success in SEC play, as the Tide leads the conference with 54 runs scored in conference play. Alabama has outscored its conference opponents 54-16 over six games. South Carolina’s 1-0 lead over Alabama in the top of the first inning on Friday, March 7, was the last time the Tide has trailed any SEC opponent.
SOFTBALL JUMPS TO SEVENTH, NINTH IN WEEK SIX POLLS
After another sweep in conference play, the Alabama Crimson Tide continue to move up the rankings as they are ranked No. 7 in the latest ESPN.com/USA Softball poll and No. 9 in the latest USA Today/NFCA poll. In the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll, the Tide jumped two spots from No. 9 last week to No. 7 this week. Another loss in SEC play for the Florida Gators cost them their top spot as they fall to No. 2, with the UCLA Bruins as the new No. 1 team. Tennessee dropped one spot as well, sitting at No. 3 this week while earning one first-place vote. Alabama moved up one spot in the Week Six USA Today/NFCA poll, from No. 10 last week to No. 9 this week. Despite another loss in conference play, Florida remains in the top spot for the fifth-consecutive week, earning 23 of 32 first-place votes. UCLA received the remaining nine first-place votes to move up to No. 2 after a weekend sweep over No. 7 Arizona. Eight teams in the SEC are ranked in both polls this week, the most of any conference: Florida (1/2), Tennessee (4/3), Kentucky (8/10), Alabama (9/7), Georgia (14/14), Texas A&M (15/18), Missouri (18/20) and Auburn (21/21). LSU is receiving votes in both polls while Arkansas is receiving votes in just the USA Today/NFCA poll.
NEXT TIME OUT: AT FLORIDA
This weekend, Alabama heads to Gainesville, Fla., for a three-game series against the No. 1/2 Florida Gators (28-2, 4-2 SEC). Game one is on Friday, March 21 with first pitch shortly after 5 p.m. CT, while games two and three are set for Noon CT first pitches on Saturday, March 22 and Sunday, March 23, respectively.
All three games will be broadcast on regional TV stations. Friday’s game will be carried on Fox Sports Florida, Saturday’s game will be on CSS and Sunday’s game is on Fox Sun Sports.