Softball Welcomes Southern Miss for Final Midweek Contest



April 15, 2013

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The Alabama softball team (37-6, 10-5 SEC) will welcome Southern Miss (11-32, 1-13 C-USA) for its final regular season midweek contest of the season on Tuesday, April 16. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. CT, at Rhoads Stadium.

Alabama played back-to-back midweek contests before taking the weekend off last week. The Tide downed Mississippi Valley State, 8-5, before taking down in state foe UAB, 11-0, in six innings. Against MVSU, junior Molly Fichtner batted 3-for-4 with two RBI while senior Kayla Braud also batted 3-for-4 and scored a run. The next day against UAB, junior Kaila Hunt batted 3-for-4 with two runs and two RBI while freshman Leona Lafaele smashed a pinch-hit grand slam to induce the mercy rule. Over the last five games UA is 4-1 and has outscored its opponents, 41-21. The Tide is batting .372 with four home runs and 35 RBI. Alabama is pitching at a 3.61 ERA and has struck out 29 in 33 innings pitched.

Alabama junior catcher Molly Fichtner continued her stellar play into last week, building on to her SEC Player of the Week honors. Over the last five games, the Houston native is batting .750 with a home run and eight RBI. The catcher is slugging 1.063 and has added two doubles, three runs and two walks. Junior Kaila Hunt follows with a .583 average with a home run, a team-high seven runs scored and six RBI while freshman Haylie McCleney is batting .500 over that span with six runs, eight walks and three RBI.

The Golden Eagles enter Tuscaloosa with an 11-32 overall record and a 1-13 Conference USA mark. Southern Miss is in the midst of an 11-game losing streak, falling to Louisiana-Lafayette in two lopsided affairs this past weekend on the road. USM is hitting .222 with 17 home runs and has been outscored, 248-136. The Golden Eagles have a 4.54 ERA and have allowed opponents to hit at a .294 clip. Carolina Walker leads the team offensively with a .330 average, hitting one home with 15 RBI. Mackenzie Sher has provided the power with a team-high seven home runs and 24 RBI while adding a .213 average. In the circle, three Golden Eagles have split the duties. Kimberly Wagner is 6-6 with a 4.12 ERA while Beth Diedtrich is 1-11 with a 4.47 ERA and Kaitlin Wilson is 4-11 with a 4.85 ERA. Co-head coaches Jon Malgradi and Kirsten Voak are in their second season in Hattiesburg.

The two teams have met six times with Alabama holding a 4-2 advantage in the series. The last time the two teams met was on May 3, 2006, where the Tide earned a 5-1 win. Alabama is 3-0 all-time in games played in Tuscaloosa against Southern Miss.

The Crimson Tide has collected a 19-3 home record so far in the 2013 season. They have put up 187 runs to outscore opponents, 187-52. With a .367 average, the Tide has belted out 22 home runs in Rhoads Stadium accompanied by 61 stolen bases. In the circle Alabama has a 1.84 ERA, striking out 140 opponents and keeping opponents to a .198 average. Freshman Haylie McCleney leads the home bats with a .500 average, 28 runs and 30 hits. McCleney also has contributed 21 RBI and stolen 13 bases. Junior Jackie Traina (8-1) leads Bama’s hurlers with a 1.87 ERA, striking out 65 batters in 60 innings and allowing only 18 runs on 42 hits.

Against nonconference opponents Alabama has marked a 27-1 record with a .360 batting average. The Tide has outscored nonconference opponents, 222-53. Alabama has put 32 over the fence in nonconference games and has recorded 76 stolen bases. The Tide has collectively tallied a 1.47 ERA, striking out 211 batters and keeping opponents to a .177 average. Freshman Haylie McCleney leads the Tide against nonconference foes with a .593 average, putting up 42 runs on 51 hits. She has also stolen 22 bases to lead the team. Sophomore Leslie Jury (10-0) controls the pitching for Bama with a 0.97 ERA, striking out 62 batters in 64 2/3 innings while allowing 16 runs on 36 hits.

The Alabama softball team will hold its annual Power of Pink Game, presented by Tuscaloosa Toyota. The Tide will be wearing pink jerseys on Saturday, April 20, against Mississippi State. The first 200 fans in the Brickyard will receive free pink T-Shirts.

Alabama is ranked third in the SEC in batting average with a .334 average, third in runs with 310, third in hits with 385 and is tied for fourth in home runs with 48. The Tide is ranked first in stolen bases and attempts going 103-for-113 so far this season. Alabama is fourth in team ERA with a 2.03.

Freshman Haylie McCleney leads the SEC in batting with a .478 average. She also ranks second in hits (64), tied for first in runs (51) and fifth in stolen bases (26-28). Senior Kayla Braud ranks third on the batting average list with a .433 and fifth in hits with 58. Braud is first in stolen bases, reaching 34-of-37 attempts. Junior Kaila Hunt is fifth in the SEC in RBI with 46. Junior Jackie Traina is tied for fifth in home runs with 13 and fifth in the circle for strikeouts with 161.

Alabama will close out its homestand against SEC Western Division foe Mississippi State this weekend. The two teams will begin the three-game series on Friday, April 19, with first pitch slated for 6:30 p.m. CT. The Sunday matinee will be televised by SportSouth.