TUSCALOOSA, Ala. The University of Alabama softball team enjoyed a record-breaking regular season in which they went 50-6 overall. Now the Crimson Tide will shoot for their fourth SEC Tournament Championship this weekend as they start by facing Georgia at 11 a.m. on Thursday in Auburn, Ala.
The Tide jumped out to an extraordinary 25-0 to start the season with four tournament championships and an undefeated month of February. They were the last undefeated Division I team in the polls and climbed to No. 2 for the first time in school history. The 25 straight wins was second only to the 2001 team which started 27-0.
Alabama would also go on a 17-game winning streak before the final weekend of the regular season, a stretch that featured a 16-0 record in April. The 17th consecutive win brought the season total to 50, marking the Tide’s fifth 50-win season in just 11 years. After the victory Bama became the No. 1 team in the country for the first time ever. The 50-6 regular season record gave them a winning percentage of .893, which was the highest regular season winning percentage of any team in school history.
A team which at the start of the season was thought by many as one that would go through a rebuilding year has instead put together one of the most remarkable performances in the country.
After losing three key starters from the 2006 Women’s College World Series team, the Tide would start the year with an entirely new infield and would have to replace its top pitcher. They have responded by leading the nation in scoring, batting avg., slugging pct. and stolen bases, while also posting a top-10 ERA.
Several records have also been broken by the Tide with more on pace to fall. This team has been exceptional on the basepaths and has broken single game and season records.
The first record to fall was the single game team record as Alabama swiped nine bases against Northwestern State on April 3. A pair of records fell in the opening game of the three-game series at Ole Miss on April 21. With seven stolen bases in the game, the Tide broke the single season record and now has 168 on the year, 30 more than the 2000 team had. Mandy Burford took four bases in the game, matching the school record held by Kelly Kretschman at Arkansas in 1999. Against Kentucky Brittany Rogers recorded her 44th stolen base of the season, breaking the single season record of 43 set by Kretschman in 2000.
Mixing speed with power is a deadly combination in college softball and is a large reason why Alabama has been so dominant this season. Of the 16 players who have an at bat, 13 have hit at least one home run with 10 recording four or more. The Tide is the only squad in the country that puts nine starters in the every day lineup who have four home runs.
The group as a whole has hit 73 home runs to match the school and SEC record set by the 1998 team. With several games left in the season that record is sure to fall.
The new infield mentioned earlier has a combined 34 home runs between the four players. Kelley Montalvo is tied for the team lead with Burford and has 10 home runs. Newcomers Lauren Parker and Charlotte Morgan have each hit nine and Kellie Eubanks has six.
Other records will most likely be set by the 2007 team. Here are some that the Tide has in its sights. They have a winning percentage of .893 and the record is .831 set last season. As a team they are batting .339 which is 14 points higher than the 1998 team’s record and just below the SEC record. The Tide has a slugging pct. of .561, 33 points better than the top mark set in 1998. A .434 on-base percentage would shatter the previous record of .394 set in 2001. They are only seven runs shy of matching the record for runs in a single season as they currently have 404 on the year. The 349 RBI is only nine RBI short of the record set in 1998. Bama has drawn 199 walks this season which is 41 free passes shy of the 2005 mark. They only need two hit-by-pitch for the new record. The pitching staff has contributed 23 shutouts, two shy of the record set in 2001. A team fielding percentage of .973 is near the school record of .974 set last season.
The Crimson Tide will most likely break more records and continue its impressive season. They will enter postseason play with experience as the last two squads have advanced to the Women’s College World Series.