April 9, 2010
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The No. 6/7 ranked Alabama softball team (29-9, 12-4 SEC) will host Northwestern (16-14, 2-3 Big Ten) in a two-game weekend series. The two teams will kick off the weekend on Saturday with a single game slated to start at 1:30 p.m. and then close the series on Sunday at Noon. Saturday's contest will mark the "Power of Pink" game for Alabama. Both games will be televised by WVUA with Brent Magnuson calling the action.
LAST TIME OUT
The Alabama softball team swept a crucial Southeastern Conference doubleheader with Western Division rival LSU on Wednesday night. The Crimson Tide earned a 3-1 victory in game one and then used the dramatics in game two to pull out a 4-3 win. Alabama came back in both contests, scoring three runs in the sixth to sink LSU in game one. In game two, sophomore Jennifer Fenton belted a two-run walk-off home run to hand the Tide the series sweep. Junior pitcher Kelsi Dunne earned both wins, tossing a complete game, 14-strikeout gem in game one and then coming back and fanning four in 1 2/3 innings of relief to earn the victory in game two.
WHO TO WATCH
Alabama freshman Courtney Conley has led the Tide at the plate in the last five games, helping Alabama post a perfect 5-0 mark over that span. The freshman hit .417 (5-for-12) over the five ball games with a team-leading two home runs. Her four RBIs over the five games are tied for second. The newcomer has also scored three runs, hit a double and slugged 1.000. In the circle junior Kelsi Dunne has earned four wins over the last five games and sports a 1.07 ERA. The All-American has struck out 33 and walked eight while opponents have hit a meager .119 over that span.
The Wildcats enter Tuscaloosa with a 16-14 overall record and a 2-3 mark in Big Ten play. Northwestern is coming off a single game loss to conference foe Iowa by the score of 9-1 in six innings on Wednesday night. The two teams were supposed to play a doubleheader but inclement weather put a damper on the night cap. Offensively the Wildcats are batting .252 on the season with 36 home runs and 134 RBI. Opponents are hitting at a .226 clip and have drilled 15 home runs and driven in 99 runs. Northwestern has scored 146 times on the season while its opposition has scored 120 times. Leading the Wildcats at the plate is Emily Allard and her .370 average. Allard also leads the team with 37 hits, 22 runs and 20 stolen bases. Michelle Batts and Adrienne Monka have both hit 25 RBI while smacking eight and nine home runs, respectively. Emily Haug leads the team with 29 RBI and has added eight big flies. In the circle Northwestern sports a 3.03 team ERA while opponents pitch at a 4.09 clip. Lauren Delaney has seen the most time in the circle, making 18 starts in 21 appearances and checking in with a 3.22 ERA. She has added 136 strikeouts in 111 innings pitched. In 2009 the Wildcats finished 31-15 overall and 14-6 in the Big Ten while concluding its season at the NCAA Regional in Waco, Texas.
SERIES HISTORY VS. NORTHWESTERN
The two programs have only met three times with Alabama holding a 2-1 advantage. The two teams last met at the DePaul Invitational in Chicago on April 29, 2008 where the Tide earned a 6-5 win in eight innings. Alabama scored four runs in extra innings to earn the victory. Alabama earned its other win at the Palm Springs Classic in 2004 by the score of 5-1. The one win in the series for the Wildcats came in the 2006 Women's College World Series where Northwestern earned a 6-5 victory.
BRAUD NAMED TOP 25 FINALISTS FOR USA PLAYER OF THE YEAR
The Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America announced Wednesday that Alabama freshman Kayla Braud (Eugene, Ore.) was named a Top 25 Finalists for the 2010 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year, which will be announced at the opening of the NCAA 2010 Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City. This award, which is considered the most prestigious honor in Division I women's collegiate softball, is designed to recognize outstanding athletic achievement by female collegiate softball players across the country. Braud enters the weekend leading the team with a .491 average, 54 hits, 42 runs and ranks second on the squad with 20 stolen bases in 22 attempts.
ALABAMA SOFTBALL AND THE POWER OF PINK
This fall the Crimson Tide kicked off its "Power of Pink" initiative, which is the University of Alabama Athletics Department's year-long effort to raise awareness of and support for breast cancer initiatives in the West Alabama community. To that end the Crimson Tide is hosting Power of Pink events at three different points during the year - in the fall, winter and spring - to help raise awareness of breast cancer. The Alabama softball team will do its share to raise awareness against Northwestern on Saturday. First pitch is slated for 1:30 p.m. and the first 800 fans will receive a Power of Pink t-shirt along with other giveaways. Fans will also be able to register for prizes such as an Apple iPad and more. Tuscaloosa Toyota will be holding its Drive 4 the Cause Challenge, donating $3 for each fan at the game to the DCH Breast Cancer Fund.
MORGAN NAMED LOWE'S SENIOR CLASS FINALIST
Alabama All-American Charlotte Morgan was named one of 10 NCAA student-athletes who excel both on and off the field and were tabbed as finalists for the 2010 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award in the softball division. 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 10 finalists will be placed on the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award softball ballot for a nationwide vote beginning Monday and concluding May 17. Alabama has now had a finalist in three straight seasons as Ashley Holcombe and Brittany Rogers garnered the recognition last season and Jordan Praytor was a finalist in 2008. Rogers was also a finalist in her senior campaign.
WHERE ALABAMA STACKS UP NATIONALLY
The Alabama softball team ranks fifth in the country in home runs per game with 1.64 and checks in at No. 6 in slugging percentage with a .560 mark. Freshman Kayla Braud ranks fifth in the nation with her .500 batting average and eighth in runs per game (1.17) while Cassie Reilly-Boccia checks in at No. 5 in walks per game (1.00) and 12th in on-base-percentage with a .560 clip. Junior pitcher Kelsi Dunne ranks ninth in the country with an 11.4 Ks per seven innings. (As of April 4)
ALABAMA IN THE SEC
Half way through conference play the Alabama bats have come alive as it ranks atop the league in 10 offensive categories including: slugging percentage (.613), on base percentage (.435), runs (124), hits (133), RBI (109), home runs (32), walks (79), doubles (21), stolen bases (29) and total bases (258). In the circle Alabama paces the conference in strikeouts (136), batter struck out looking (48) and opposing batting average (.196).
Individually, Kayla Braud leads the league in batting average (.531), runs (22), triples (2), total bases (41) and hits (26). Senior Charlotte Morgan paces the conference with 23 RBI and six home runs and also leads in slugging percentage (1.000) and walks (19) and is second in on base percentage (.610). Cassie Reilly-Boccia follows in walks with 18. In the circle Kelsi Dunne leads the league with 90 strikeouts, 29 looking and a .162 opponent batting average.
NEXT TIME OUT
The Alabama softball team will hit the road for a single midweek contest. The Crimson Tide will head to Itta Bena, Miss., to face off against Mississippi Valley State on Tuesday, April 13. Alabama will return home and host Mississippi in a three game conference series that will begin on Saturday, April 17.