No. 2 Softball Welcomes No. 21 LSU in Pivotal SEC Matchup

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM Senior Cassie Reilly-Boccia looks to extend her school-record for most career walks this weekend.
Senior Cassie Reilly-Boccia looks to extend her school-record for most career walks this weekend.

April 5, 2012

Games 37-39 | No. 2 Alabama (35-1, 12-1 SEC) vs. No. 21/24 LSU (28-8, 10-1 SEC)
Date Friday, April 6, 7 p.m. CDT
Saturday, April 7, 1:30 p.m. CDT
Sunday, April 8, 1 p.m. CDT
Location Tuscaloosa, Ala. | Rhoads Stadium (3,950)
Tickets General Admission | $5
Television Friday - ESPNU (Beth Mowins & Jessica Mendoza)
Saturday - WVUA-TV (Chad Haynie & Whitney Larsen)
Sunday - Fox Sports South (Dave Baker & Cheri Kempf)
Radio Stream | WVUA 90.7 FM | Chad Haynie & Paden Lapwing
Live Stats GameTracker (Fri.) | GameTracker (Sat.) | GameTracker (Sun.)
Game Notes Alabama Notes Get Acrobat ReaderLSU Notes Get Acrobat Reader
Video Stream TideTV (Saturday) | ESPN3 (Sunday)
Series Record Alabama trails, 27-34 | 12-11 at Tuscaloosa
Promotions Schedule | Title XI Celebration (Fri.) | Olivia Gibson Day (Sat.)

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -The second-ranked Alabama softball team (35-1 overall, 12-1 SEC) looks to stay atop the SEC as it returns to the friendly confines of Rhoads Stadium this weekend to take on No. 21-ranked LSU (28-8 overall, 10-1 SEC) in a three game series. First pitch is set for 7 p.m., on Friday and will be carried on ESPNU, with Beth Mowins and Jessica Mendoza on the call. Saturday and Sunday's games will start at 1:30 p.m., and 1 p.m., respectively. The Sunday contest will be shown on Fox Sports South with Dave Baker and Cheri Kempf calling the action.

The second-ranked Alabama softball team earned five Southeastern Conference divisional wins this past week. The Crimson Tide opened the week with a doubleheader sweep over rival Auburn and then swept Mississippi State in a three-game weekend set. With the five conference wins the Tide enters the week in sole possession of first place in the SEC standings. In its five wins, Alabama outscored its opponents, 27-13. UA hit .258 with eight home runs and 25 RBI. The Tide pitched at a 1.60 ERA, held opposing batters to a .190 average and struck out 38 in 35 innings. Sophomore Kaila Hunt paced the Tide at the plate with a .438 (7-for-16) average, scoring a team-high seven runs while leading the team with four home runs and five RBI. Five of her seven hits on the week went for extra bases. In the circle, sophomore Jackie Trainahad her right arm play a factor in each of the five wins. Traina went 4-0 in the circle, adding her first save of the season as well. The All-American posted a 1.50 ERA and struck out 34 in 28 innings.

Alabama sophomore infielder Kaila Huntpowered the Crimson Tide to five wins this past week. Hunt continued to provide the punch in the lineup as she belted four home runs. Hunt batted .438 (7-for-16), scoring seven runs and driving in five. The sophomore tallied at least one home run in three of the five games, a hit in four of the five games and a run in each game. In the backend of the doubleheader against No. 24 Auburn, Hunt collected three hits, including two home runs and a double. In the final two games of the series on the road at Mississippi State, Hunt went deep in each of those contests. On the season, the Evans, Ga., native leads the team with 14 home runs and 38 RBI - both are career highs.

LSU enters Tuscaloosa on a 12-game winning streak, beating Nicholls State, 6-1 on Wednesday and sweeping Arkansas last weekend to sport a 28-8 overall record and a 10-1 mark in league action. LSU is hitting at a .263 clip and has tallied 10 home runs and 136 RBI. The Tigers have outscored their opponents 165-66. LSU is pitching at a 1.35 ERA and holding opponents to a meager .196 average. Juliana Santos leads the team with a .346 average in 29 games played. Ashley Langonia has provided the punch with five home runs and 24 RBI while adding a .341 average and a team-high 29 runs scored. In the circle, the duo of Rachele Fico and Brittany Mack return. Fico is 13-4 with an SEC leading 0.69 ERA and has struck out 109 in 111 2/3 innings pitched. Mack is 12-4 with a 1.89 ERA and has struck out 114 in 96 1/3 innings. Beth Torina is in her first season as the LSU head coach. Torina came to Baton Rouge from FIU where she compiled a 129-111 record in four seasons.

Alabama and LSU have faced off 61 times overall, with the Bayou Bengals holding a 34-27 advantage over the Tide. LSU is the only team in the conference with a winning record against Alabama. The two teams last met in April, with the Tigers sweeping the Tide in a three game series. The sweep was the first time that Alabama had been swept since 2004. Alabama lost the first two games in extra innings, dropping the first game, 2-1, in 14 innings and the second game, 3-1, in 10 innings. In the third game, Jackie Traina and Kelsi Dunnecombined to pitch a no hitter, but the Tigers took advantage of walks and were able to earn the 2-0 win.

The University of Alabama softball team is off to its best start in club history. At 35-1, The Crimson Tide posts its best record through 36 games in program history. Last season Alabama equaled its best start with the 2001 team with a 34-2 record through 36 games. The third best starts in the clubs history came in 2008 and in 2007. Both years the team started out with 33-3, and in 2006 the team had a 32-4 start.

Sophomore pitcher Jackie Traina has secured the win in 23 consecutive decisions, dating back to last season, second in school history behind Kelsi Dunne, who rattled off 24 consecutive wins in 2010. Traina has started this season with a record of 21-0, which is tied for the best start by a pitcher in school history with Shelley Laird, who started the 2001 season off with the same perfect 21-0 mark.

Alabama sophomore infielder Kaila Hunt (Evans, Ga.) and sophomore pitcher Jackie Traina(Naples, Fla.) earned Southeastern Conference Player of the Week honors as announced by the league office Monday. Hunt was named the SEC Player of the Week while Traina garnered Pitcher of the Week accolades. The honor is a career first for Hunt while Traina nabbed the pitching honor for the second time this season and the third time in her career.

Alabama outfielder Cassie Reilly-Boccia(Yorktown Heights, N.Y.) was one of 10 softball student-athletes that were selected as finalists for the 2012 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence - community, classroom, character and competition. The finalists were chosen by a media committee from the list of 30 candidates announced in February. Lowe's will announce the Senior CLASS Award® winner during the 2012 NCAA Women's College World Series.

Alabama enters the weekend ranked second in the country with 58 home runs. The Tide has been hitting the longball consistently as of late, going deep in 19 of the last 20 games. Overall the Tide has belted a home run in 32 of the 36 games and has hit two or more home runs in 21 games this season.

Alabama senior Cassie Reilly-Boccia just broke the career walks record as she now sports 163 career free passes. Kelly Kretschman held the UA record with 161 career walks. Despite being just a junior, Kayla Braud is also ascending up the charts. Braud has swiped 127 career bases to rank third all time. Brittany Rogers holds the mark with 198 stolen bases. Senior Jennifer Fenton checks in at fourth all-time with 114 stolen bases. Senior Amanda Locke is powering her way into the home run record book as she ranks fourth all-time with 44 career home runs. Kretschman holds the record with 60 career roundtrippers. Kendall Dawsonis one caught theft away from holding the Alabama record for most caught stealing by. She is tied with Lacy Prejean with 39 over her career.

Alabama enters the season with one of the most experienced squads in the country. The Crimson Tide boasts six seniors that have combined to find time in 1093 games and start 867 times. Five of the six seniors have started more than 100 games in their careers and three of the seniors have eclipsed the 200-games played mark. Cassie Reilly-Boccialeads the senior class with 225 games played and 212 starts.

Alabama has raced out to a 35-1 start and has been doing it in impressive fashion. The Tide has outscored its opponents 274-84, including a 65-7 advantage in the first inning. UA is averaging 7.61 runs per game and 8.58 hits per contest. Kayla Braud and Jennifer Fenton are averaging a run per game while Cassie Reilly-Boccia, Amanda Lock and Kaila Hunt are driving in nearly run per game. In the circle Jackie Trainais averaging 9.4 strikeouts per contest.

In the second installment of the RPI rankings, Alabama currently ranks No. 2 in the country. Last week the Tide was the top-ranked team in the initial standings. Cal is currently ranked No. 1 this week. Alabama has seven opponents on the schedule ranked in the top 25 and has a total of 15 in the top 50 of the RPI rankings.

The Tide are ranked highly in several categories nationally. UA is 10th in batting average (.333) and second in slugging percentage (.594), in addition to being third in scoring per game (7.61). Alabama is also sixth in stolen bases per game (2.33), as well as second in home run per game (1.61). Alabama is 23rd in doubles per game (1.47) and 22nd in ERA (1.79). The 58 home runs also rank second in the country. (Stats as of 4-1-12)

Alabama has several players ranked nationally. Kaila Hunt is sixth in home runs (14), as well as sixth in home runs per game (.41) and 22nd in runs batted in per game (1.12). Jennifer Fenton is 12th in stolen bases per game (.71), with Kayla Braud just behind her in 14th place (.68). Cassie Reilly-Boccia is 17th in walks per game (.83) and eighth in on base percentage (.568). Jackie Trainais second nationally in wins (21), as well as 13th in strikeouts per seven innings (9.4) and 11th overall in the country with 174 strikeouts. (Stats as of 4-1-12)

As a team, Alabama leads the conference in almost every offensive category, starting with a .333 batting average. UA is also tops in hits (309), runs (274), home runs (58), doubles (53), walks (171), total bases (552), slugging percentage (.594), on base percentage (.454), runs batted in (250), and stolen bases (85). UA is third in triples (8) and Alabama pitchers have recorded 262 strikeouts, good for third in conference.

Kaila Hunt enters the week leading the conference with 14 home runs and 38 RBI. Jennifer Fenton and Kayla Braud pace the league in stolen bases with 25 and 24, respectively. Fenton also ranks second with 35 runs scored while Braud is fourth with 33. Braud also ranks fourth in average with a .414 mark. Cassie Reilly-Boccia checks in tied for first with a .568 on base percentage and ranks second with 30 walks. Jackie Trainaleads the conference with 21 wins and ranks second with 174 strikeouts.

Alabama will stay in Tuscaloosa as it plays host to South Carolina for a three game series next weekend at Rhoads Stadium. First pitch is set for Friday, April 13, at 6:30 p.m. The Saturday contest was moved back to 4:30 due to the Alabama football spring game and the Sunday finale will start at 1:30 p.m.