Softball Starts Spring Break on the Road at Houston



March 26, 2013

Game 34 | No. 4/7 Alabama (29-4, 6-3 SEC) at Houston (19-9, 8-1 C-USA)

Wednesday, March 27, 6:30 p.m. CT

Location Houston, Texas | Cougar Softball Stadium (1,200)
Tickets Sold Out
Television None
Radio Listen | WDGM 99.1 FM | Chad Haynie
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The Alabama softball team (29-4) will begin its spring break in the state of Texas with a nonconference game at Houston (19-9) on Wednesday, March 27, with first pitch slated for 6:30 p.m. CT. The midweek contest will mark the first of four games on the road for the Crimson Tide during spring break.

Alabama opened its home portion of the Southeastern Conference schedule with a series victory over Auburn this past weekend. The Tide won the series opener on Friday night, 8-0. The win marked the 800th on the career for head coach Patrick Murphy. On Saturday, the Tide fell to the Tigers, 7-4. The loss snapped an 18-game winning streak in the series against its heated rivals. On Sunday, Alabama bounced back in a big way, defeating Auburn, 13-1, in five innings. Alabama used an 11-run third inning, its largest offensive output in a single inning this season to earn the series victory.

Alabama sophomore Jadyn Spencer put together arguably her finest weekend in a Crimson Tide uniform. In three starts at first base against rival Auburn, Spencer led the Tide with a .600 average, six hits, five RBI and a .636 on base percentage. The Waterloo, Iowa native collected two hits in each of the three games and also tallied at least one run and one RBI in each of the games as well. In the circle, junior Jackie Traina struck out 14 and allowed just two runs on five hits in 12 2/3 innings pitched. She showed her All-American form in the series opener against the Tigers by shutting out SEC rival Auburn on the strength of a three-hitter, striking out 11 and walking just one. She allowed just one run on one hit in the Sunday finale. Traina did not allow the Tiger hit until the fourth inning.

Houston enters the week with a 19-9 overall record and an 8-1 mark in Conference USA play. The Cougars are coming off a weekend sweep at East Carolina, outscoring the Pirates, 23-5, in the series. On the season the Cougars are batting .286 with 17 home runs and 117 RBI while outscoring its opponents, 137-77. In the circle, Houston sports a 2.17 ERA and has struck out 125 batters in 184 innings pitched while holding the opposition to a .219 batting average. UH is led by Holly Henderson, Katie St. Pierre and Haley Outon. Anderson paces the Cougars with a .394 average, 37 hits and seven stolen bases. St. Pierre closely follows with a .375 average while Outon has provided the punch with a .369 average and a team-high eight home runs and 25 RBI. Kyla Holas is in her 13th season at the helm of the Houston program. Holas and Alabama associate head coach Alyson Habetz were both teammates on the USL 1993 Women's College World Series team.

The two teams enter the midweek contest only have meeting twice in their respective programs history. The two meetings came at the Houston Hilton Invitational in 2005, where the Crimson Tide downed the Cougars, 7-4 and 5-2, respectively.

With the victory against Auburn on March 22, Alabama head coach Patrick Murphy won his 800th career game. The milestone came in an 8-0, run-rule victory against the rival Tigers. These milestone wins have been coming at an alarming rate as Murphy has led the Crimson Tide to 50 or more wins in each of the last eight seasons.

In the first installment of the RPI, the Alabama softball team checks in at No. 6 overall. Eight Tide opponents reside in the top 25, while five check in at the top 10.

Alabama enters the week with a 23-1 record in nonconference action in 2013. The lone loss on the season came in a rare out of conference matchup against No. 4 Florida (8-4) on March 6. Freshman Haylie McCleney paces the Tide in nonconference play with a .554 (41-for-74) average, adding a team-high 33 runs, .588 on base percentage and three triples. Junior Kaila Hunt has provided the punch with a team-high seven home runs and 30 RBI while adding a .452 average. Sophomore Leslie Jury is 7-0 with a 1.01 ERA while junior Jackie Traina is 10-1 with a 1.27 ERA. UA has outscored nonconference opponents, 186-42, in 2013.

After a 3-1 week the Alabama softball team remained No. 4 in the NFCA/USA Today Poll and moved back a spot in the USA Softball/ rankings to No. 7 overall. Seven opponents on the 2013 schedule are currently ranked in the top 25.

Freshman Haylie McCleney currently ranks fifth in the NCAA with a .484 average. McCleney is also 10th in runs per game (1.18). She is still one of the toughest to strikeout, ranking second in the country with one strikeout in 104 at bats. Senior Kayla Braud ranks fifth in stolen bases per game at 0.85.

As a team the Crimson Tide checks in the top five in 11 major offensive categories and seven times in the pitching statistics. UA ranks second in batting average (.333), fifth in slugging percentage (.523), second in on base percentage (.431), third in runs (240), second in hits (294), third in RBI (208), fourth in triples (8), home runs (37) and total bases (461), third in walks (137) and first in stolen bases (87). In the circle the Tide ranks fourth in ERA (1.73), fifth in opposing batting average (.194), second in wins (29), fourth in hits allowed (150) and runs allowed (70), third in earned runs allowed (53) and fourth in home runs allowed (12).

Freshman Haylie McCleney continues to pace the league or rank among the best in the conference in several offensive categories. The rookie leads the circuit in hitting (.481), runs (39) and hits (50) and ranks third in triples (4). Senior Kayla Braud leads the league in stolen bases (29) while junior Jackie Traina ranks fourth in strikeouts with 130.

Alabama will continue its spring break in Texas as it will return to SEC play against league newcomer Texas A&M. The two teams will meet in a three game series in College Station that will begin on Friday, March 29, with first pitch slated for 6:30 p.m. CT.