April 16, 2010
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The Alabama softball team (32-9, 12-4 SEC) will return home to host its first Southeastern Conference weekend series in nearly two weeks as the Crimson Tide welcomes the Mississippi Rebels (23-18, 5-10 SEC) to Tuscaloosa. The two teams will begin play in a doubleheader on Saturday, April 17 with first pitch of game one slated for 2:00 p.m. at the Alabama Softball Complex.
LAST TIME OUT
The Alabama softball team earned its eighth straight win with a 6-1 victory over Mississippi Valley State in Itta Bena, Miss., on Tuesday evening. Senior Charlotte Morgan collected two hits, including a home run and drove in three while freshman Kayla Braud also tallied two knocks and scored two runs. Freshman hurler Lauren Sewell allowed just two hits and one run while striking out 10 without issuing a walk to improve to 8-1 on her rookie campaign.
WHO TO WATCH
Alabama sophomore Jazlyn Lunceford leads the team with a .545 (6-for-11) batting average over the last five games. The Northport native has added a home run and six RBI over that span as well. Lunceford leads the team with five runs and is perfect 2-for-2 in stolen bases while slugging .909 and sporting a .583 on base percentage. Charlotte Morgan has also been on a hot streak over the last five games as the senior is batting .462 (6-for-13) with a team-leading three home runs and eight RBI. Morgan has scored four runs and is slugging 1.154 over that span.
The Rebels enter Tuscaloosa with a 23-10 overall record and a 5-10 mark in SEC play. Mississippi is coming off a doubleheader sweep over Samford by the scores of 7-3 and 3-1 on Thursday night. As a team the Rebels are batting .297 and pitch at a 3.09 clip. Mississippi has out-scored its opponents 194-166 on the season. Offensively Lauren Grill leads the team with a .447 (51-for-114) batting average and has added five home runs and 26 RBI. Brittany Barnhill leads the team with 30 RBI and has also belted five home runs and sports a .315 average. Cali Overbeck paces the team in homers with six while adding 27 RBI and a .273 average. In the circle Barnhill leads the team with nine wins (9-5) and 105 Ks in 98 1/3 innings while posting a 3.20 ERA. Lindsey Perry leads the team with a 2.87 ERA and posts a 7-3 record with 65 strikeouts. Becky Nye leads the team in innings pitched (101.2) while posting a 3.10 ERA and a 6-9 record.
SERIES HISTORY VS. MISSISSIPPI
The two programs have met 43 times with Alabama holding a 41-2 advantage. The two teams last met in Oxford, Miss., last season for a three-game series that the Crimson Tide was able to sweep, outscoring the Rebels, 31-4 in the three game set. Last season Jazlyn Lunceford batted .571 (4-for-7) in the series, added two doubles, two RBI and was a perfect 3-for-3 in stolen base attempts. Charlotte Morgan batted .444 (4-for-9) with seven RBI. Kelsi Dunne earned two win and struck out 16 in 12 innings. The last time Alabama fell to Mississippi was in the nightcap of a doubleheader in Tuscaloosa on April 2, 2005.
TIDE SITS ATOP INITIAL NCAA RPI RANKING
Some may have question head coach Patrick Murphy’s tough scheduling leading into a year with seven new starters, but the skipper’s decision to schedule the nation’s toughest schedule seems to be paying off as Alabama comes in at No. 1 in the first RPI ranking of the year. Alabama has seven wins against teams that are currently ranking in the top 15 of the RPI and claims victories over the number two and three ranked teams (Michigan and Florida) in the RPI and are scheduled to play the fifth ranked team, Georgia Tech, later this month in Tuscaloosa. 19 of Alabama’s 31 wins this season come against teams ranked in the top 50 of the RPI. Ten of Alabama’s last 14 remaining regular-season games are against teams ranked in the top 50 of the RPI.
OVER THE EIGHT-GAME WINNING STREAK
The Alabama softball team is currently on an eight-game winning streak as it enters the weekend against Mississippi. The win streak spans over all of April thus far. Over the eight games the Crimson Tide is batting .312 and sports a 1.21 ERA while opponents are hitting at a .129 clip and have been pounded for a 7.68 ERA. Jazlyn Lunceford paces the Tide over the streak with a .450 (9-for-20) average and has added two home runs and 10 RBI. Charlotte Morgan has provided the punch as the senior is batting .409 (9-for-22) with a team-leading four home runs and 11 RBI. Amanda Locke has added three home runs and seven RBI while Kayla Braud is batting .440 (11-for-25) with a team-best 10 runs. In the circle Kelsi Dunne is a perfect 6-0 with a 0.64 ERA and has struck out 51 in 29 2/3 innings pitched. Opponents are hitting a paltry .129 against the right-hander.
MORGAN MOVES INTO SECOND ON SEC RBI LIST
Alabama senior Charlotte Morgan moved into second all-time on the SEC career RBI list with her three RBI performance at Mississippi Valley State on Tuesday. For her career the senior now has 236 RBI which sits just five shy of the record-holder Tonya Callahan of Tennessee that was set in 2008. Morgan also passed Callahan in career home runs to rank third all-time and trails Florida’s Francesca Enea and former UA great Kelley Kretschman. The senior has 53 long balls while Kretschman sits atop the leaderboard with 60. Enea checks in at second with 56 homers.
BRAUD NAMED TOP 25 FINALISTS FOR USA PLAYER OF THE YEAR
The Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America announced last 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 week leading the team with a .487 average, 57 hits, 45 runs and ranks second on the squad with 22 stolen bases in 25 attempts.
DUNNE NAMED SEC PITCHER OF THE WEEK
Alabama junior pitcher Kelsi Dunne was named the SEC Pitcher of the Week. Dunne earned three wins in starts and came in relief to earn her other victory to earn all four wins for the Tide. On the week the junior posted a 1.12 ERA and struck out 36 in 18 2/3 innings while only allowing seven hits and three earned runs. Opponents hit a measly .113 against the right-hander on the week. Dunne opened the slate with a 14-punchout performance against LSU and then came back in the nightcap to strike out four more in 1 2/3 innings. She continued to baffle hitters with 10 strikeouts in five innings in the weekend series opener against Northwestern and then punched out eight more in five innings on Sunday. She allowed three or fewer hits in all four of her appearances, including a one-hitter in the opener against LSU. Dunne has earned the win in five straight games for Alabama and notched the victory in six of the seven last ball games for the Tide. Alabama is riding a seven-game winning streak and Dunne has earned the win in six of those victories.
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 sixth in the country in home runs per game with 1.70 and checks in at No. 7 in slugging percentage with a .573 mark while ranking 10th in scoring with 6.83 runs per game. Freshman Kayla Braud ranks seventh in the nation with her .487 batting average and 12th in runs per game (1.13) while Cassie Reilly-Boccia checks in at No. 8 in walks per game (0.95) and 24th in on-base-percentage with a .543 clip. Junior pitcher Kelsi Dunne ranks seventh in the country with an 11.7 Ks per seven innings and her 216 strikeouts rank 16th in the country. (As of April 11)
ALABAMA IN THE SEC
Halfway through conference play the Alabama bats have come alive as it ranks atop the league in eight offensive categories including: batting average (.316), slugging percentage (.613), on base percentage (.435), runs (124), RBI (109), home runs (32), walks (79), 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) and runs (22). Senior Charlotte Morgan paces the conference with 23 RBI and six home runs and also leads in slugging percentage (1.000), walks (19) and on base percentage (.610). Cassie Reilly-Boccia follows in walks with 18. In the circle Kelsi Dunne is second in the league with 90 strikeouts, 29 looking, and leads the conference with a .162 opponent batting average.
MURPHY MOST FOLLOWED SOFTBALL COACH IN THE NATION
In today’s high speed world of social networking college coaches try to keep up with technology and the latest fad. With this in mind Alabama skipper Patrick Murphy jumped right into the Twitter craze joining the instant information giant with a profile last June. Since the coach joined the site at last year’s Women’s College World Series his “tweeting” has gained popularity on a national level. This past week Murphy surpassed Florida’s Tim Walton to become the nation’s most followed softball coach on Twitter and his followership continues to grow each day, currently standing near the 1,050 mark. Murphy’s twitter page can be found at www.twitter.com/UACoachMurphy.
NEXT TIME OUT
The Alabama softball team will remain at home for a single midweek contest against Troy before hitting the road for a three game weekend series against Arkansas. The Crimson Tide will host the Troy Trojans on Tuesday, April 20 at 6:00 p.m. The Tide will start its three-game set against the Razorbacks on Saturday, April 24 at 1:00 p.m.