No. 5/7 Softball Continues SEC Slate Hosting LSU

March 27, 2014

This weekend, Alabama returns home to face the LSU Tigers (19-12, 2-4 SEC) in a three-game series, beginning on Friday, March 28 at 6:35 p.m. CT. First pitch on Saturday, March 29 is set for 2:05 p.m. CT and Sunday's contest will begin at 1:05 p.m. CT with the game aired on Fox Sports South and online on ESPN 3. Dave Baker and Cheri Kempf will be on the call for Sunday's game.

Friday/Sunday - 95.3 FM (Local Only)
Saturday - 95.3 FM (CTSN Network)
Friday/Saturday - WVUA-TV
Sunday - Fox Sports South/ESPN3

Friday - Jaclyn Traina Senior Day
Saturday - Stripe Out LSU
Sunday - Badges and Ladders (Free Admission to Policemen, Firefighters and EMT), Kid's Day, Military Sunday

LSU (19-12, 2-4 SEC) - The Tigers are sitting seven games above .500 just past the halfway point of the season, losing both of their opening SEC series but avoiding a sweep with a win against Auburn and Florida. Last weekend, LSU took a break from conference play for a two-game road series against the defending national champion Oklahoma Sooners, where the Tigers lost a pair of one-run games, 2-1 and 3-2. Preseason All-SEC selection A.J. Andrews leads the offense with a .402 average along with 41 hits and 22 stolen bases. Sophomore Bianka Bell, last season's SEC Co-Freshman of the Year, has driven in 21 RBI off 30 hits, including seven doubles, a triple and six home runs. Freshman Baylee Corbello has shouldered most of the load in the circle this season, throwing a team-leading 88.2 innings, earning a 9-4 record with a 1.58 ERA, striking out 98.

LSU leads the all-time series, 38-29, as the series remains one of the most competitive in the SEC. Since the opening of Tiger Park prior to the 2009 season, home-field advantage has played a huge role in the series, as LSU is 7-0 at home against Alabama since 2009 while the Tide is 4-1 against the Tigers in Rhoads Stadium during that stretch. The teams have met 11 times in the SEC Tournament, with LSU holding a slight 6-5 edge in postseason play. Four of those 11 meetings have come in the SEC Tournament championship, most recently in 2010 as Alabama won, 5-4, behind a Jazlyn Lunceford solo homer in the bottom of the fifth that made the difference in the one-run victory.

In the first-ever meeting between the two teams, Alabama bested Jacksonville, 6-2, in the Tuesday night road contest. Alabama put up all six of its runs in the first inning as the Crimson Tide failed to pad its lead down the stretch. Jadyn Spencer led the offense with a 2-4 performance as she has hit safely in the last four games. Danae Hays hit a first-inning grand slam, her first long ball since Feb. 15, that ended up being the difference in the four-run victory. Leslie Jury (12-3) earned her 12th win in the circle, lasting 4.1 innings as Sydney Littlejohn pitched 2.2 innings in relief to finish the game. Jacksonville suffers its fifth-straight loss, though Karson Tuck and Charlie Bradshaw were both able to earn a pair of hits in the game. Starter Cecile Gomez (3-3) was chased early, allowing six earned runs in just 0.1 innings of work as Victoria Brown threw 6.2 shutout relief innings.

A 2-0 weekend in Gainesville with one earned run over 14.0 innings has earned Alabama senior Jaclyn Traina national recognition, as she was named the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Week as well as the NFCA Co-National Player of the Week, announced Tuesday. Traina, who was also named SEC Pitcher of the Week, went 2-0 over the weekend, throwing two complete-game victories against the previously top-ranked Gators. On Friday, she allowed just two runs, one earned, and two hits as Alabama won 4-2. In Sunday's rubber match, Traina pitched one of her finest performances of the season, throwing a complete-game shutout with just two hits allowed, both of which came in the first two innings. The two hits allowed in each game are a season low for Florida, who had lost just two games before this weekend. Traina shares this week's NFCA honor with Western Illinois junior Sammy Marshall, who went 11-11 the plate last weekend in a weekend series against IUPUI. This is the first USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Week honor for Traina and the first for any Alabama player since Kelsi Dunne on May 18, 2010. Dunne was also the last NFCA National Player of the Week for Alabama, winning on April 6, 2009.

Alabama's series win in Gainesville was the first for the Crimson Tide since the 2005 season. Alabama has now won the past two straight regular-season series against the Gators, last defeating them to end the 2012 regular season in Tuscaloosa. Since that series in 2012, Florida had not lost a single SEC series until this past weekend. Alabama is now 32-26 all-time against Florida. The teams have met in each of the last two SEC Tournaments, with Florida winning in 2013 and Alabama winning in 2012 to win a tournament title.

The three-game series against LSU begins an eight-game homestand, the longest for the Tide in SEC play this season. Alabama has played seven of its last eight on the road and will close the regular season with 11 of its final 14 games away from Rhoads Stadium. Alabama's longest homestand this season was nine games,  including five games at the Easton Crimson Classic, three against South Carolina and one against Mississippi Valley State. So far this season, Alabama is 13-2 at home and 3-0 in SEC play.

A hard-fought series win in Gainesville helped propel Alabama softball further up the national rankings, earning a No. 5 spot in the Softball poll and a No. 7 spot in the USA Today/NFCA poll. In the Softball poll, Alabama moved up two spots from No. 7 last week to No. 5 this week. UCLA sits atop the rankings for the second-straight week, while Tennessee and Oregon slide ahead of Florida, who dropped from No. 2 to No. 4 with the series loss last weekend. Alabama moved up two spots in the Week Seven USA Today/NFCA poll, from No. 9 last week to No. 7 this week. UCLA sits at the top of the rankings for the first time since 2011 thanks to some impressive wins over No. 8 Arizona and No. 5 Washington. PAC 12 rival Oregon moves up to No. 2 and Tennessee moves to No. 3 as the previously top-ranked Gators fall all the way to No. 4 after losing two of three to Alabama in Gainesville. Eight SEC teams are ranked in both polls, the most of any conference: Tennessee (2/3), Florida (4/4), Alabama (5/7), Kentucky (10/10), Georgia (14/13), Missouri (19/16), Texas A&M (20/17) and Auburn (21/21).

On Wednesday, April 2, Alabama hosts in-state rival No. 12/13 South Alabama (25-3) for a midweek game. First pitch is set for 6:04 p.m. CT as the game will be aired on WVUA-TV.