May 9, 2012
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The third ranked Alabama softball team (47-7 overall, 23-5 SEC) enters the Southeastern Conference Tournament as the top seed after winning its third straight and fourth overall, SEC title over the weekend. The Crimson Tide will open tournament play on Thursday, May 10, against eighth seeded Mississippi State at 7 p.m., on ESPN. The winner of that game will face off against the winner of fourth seeded Georgia and fifth seeded Kentucky in the semifinals, set for Friday, May 11, at 4:30 p.m. The finals are on Saturday night, May 12, at 7 p.m. All games will be played at Rhoads Stadium.
LAST TIME OUT
The third ranked Alabama softball team won two out of three games against Florida this past weekend en route to winning its third straight SEC championship, marking the first time since 2007 that the Crimson Tide had won a regular season series over the Gators as well. Alabama won the title by a game even though it did not receive a vote in the preseason coaches poll. In the first game, Florida's Hannah Rogers held the Tide hitless until the sixth inning and limited the Tide bats to just one run and three hits in a 4-1 loss. Alabama bounced back in the second game of the series, jumping out to an early lead and coasting to a 9-1 win to clinch at least a share of the SEC title. Alabama was able to claim the title outright on Sunday, as it posted a five run lead in the first two innings and held off Florida in a title clinching, 5-3 victory. Sophomore pitcher Jackie Traina threw every pitch on the weekend for the Tide, improving to 31-2 on the year. Traina threw 355 pitches in her 20 innings of work, giving up eight runs and struck out 21 batters. Junior Kayla Braud hit .500 (5-for-10) on the weekend and scored twice, while Kaila Hunt and Amanda Locke hit home runs. Alabama traveled to New York for a nonconference matchup against Fordham on Monday night in its regular season finale, but could not continue the momentum from the weekend in an 8-5 loss. Hunt hit her SEC leading 18th home run on the season and drove in three runs for the Tide.
WHO TO WATCH
Junior Kayla Braud has been heating up at the right time as she has hit .429 (6-for-14) over the last four games. The outfielder has scored four runs, hit two doubles and stole five bases. Sophomore Kaila Hunt has been providing the punch with two home runs and six RBI while batting .357 (5-for-14). Three of her five hits in the last four games have gone for extra bases.
SCOUTING MISSISSIPPI STATE
The Bulldogs of Mississippi State enter the SEC Tournament with a 33-21 overall record and a 12-16 mark in the SEC. MSU is coming off of a series loss to Auburn on the final weekend of the regular season, dropping the last two games of the series after winning the series opener on Friday night. Senior Brittany Bell leads the Bulldogs with a .379 (55-for-145) average, good for fourth in the SEC. Bell has also hit nine home runs and driven in 35 runs. Junior Jessica Cooley leads MSU with 15 home runs and 40 RBI. Cooley is fourth and 10th in the conference in those categories, respectively. Junior pitcher Stephanie Becker leads the Bulldogs in the circle with an 18-10 record, with 162 strikeouts in 181 2/3 innings of work and a 2.50 ERA. Mississippi State is led by coach Vann Stuedeman, who is in her first season in charge of the Bulldogs after serving as Alabama's pitching coach for 11 seasons.
Mississippi State: Alabama has dominated the series with Mississippi State, winning 26 straight games against the Bulldogs, including a sweep this season. Alabama leads the series 49-7, and in the sweep this past March they outscored the Bulldogs 18-9 and hit .364 with four home runs and 17 RBI. Senior Jazlyn Lunceford hit .400 with six walks and two RBI while Kaila Hunt smashed two home runs. Jackie Traina earned two of the three wins.
SEC TOURNAMENT HISTORY
The Crimson Tide holds a 29-19 all-time record in the SEC Tournament and has won the conference tournament four times. Alabama is tied with Florida and LSU with 16 consecutive SEC Tournament appearances. The Tide has the second most SEC Tournament titles with four. LSU holds the mark with five championships. In the second ever playing of the SEC Tournament in 1998, Alabama earned its first win. The Tide defeated Tennessee, LSU twice, and Mississippi State to capture the title. Alabama has also won the title in 2003, 2005, and 2010. Senior Jennifer Fenton has been named to the All-Tournament Team the past two seasons.
GOT THAT THREE-PEAT
With the series win this past weekend, Alabama became just the second team in SEC history to ever win three consecutive SEC titles. LSU won four straight titles from 1999-2002 and five titles overall. Alabama has won four titles, including the past three.
SEC WESTERN DIVISION CHAMPIONS
Alabama has clinched their fifth straight SEC Western Division title going into the final weekend of the regular season. The title is also Alabama's eighth Western Division as well, pulling them into a tie for first with LSU, who has also won eight division titles. Alabama and LSU are the only two schools to ever win the Western Division since the SEC began play in 1997.
SOFTBALL GARNERS 14 ALL CONFERENCE HONORS
The Alabama softball team was recognized with 14 honors as the Southeastern Conference announced its annual softball awards, on May 9. Crimson Tide sophomore Jackie Traina was named the Pitcher of the Year while senior Jennifer Fenton was named the Co-Scholar Athlete of the Year. Patrick Murphy garnered Coach of the Year accolades. In addition to Traina and Fenton, sophomore Kaila Hunt was named to the SEC first team while seniors Cassie Reilly-Boccia, Jazlyn Lunceford, Kendall Dawson and Amanda Locke and junior Kayla Braud were tabbed to the second team. Dawson, Reilly-Boccia and Lunceford also earned all-defensive team honors. Reilly-Boccia was also named to the SEC Community Service team.
TRAINA NAMED USA SOFTBALL TOP 10 FINALISTS
Alabama sophomore pitcher Jackie Traina was named an Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America Top 10 Finalists for the 2012 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year. The three finalists selected from this list will be announced May 23, while the winner of the 2012 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Award will be revealed on May 29 prior to the start of the NCAA WCWS in Oklahoma City.
HOME RUN POWER
Alabama enters the weekend leading the country with 87 home runs. The Tide has been hitting the longball consistently as of late, going deep in 32 of the last 38 games. Overall the Tide has belted a home run in 44 of the 54 games and has hit two or more home runs in 30 games this season.
Alabama sophomore Kaila Hunt leads the conference with 18 home runs and senior Amanda Locke is right behind her with 17, the most by any two players on a team in Alabama history since 1998. The most home runs by any two players in Alabama's history was 40, set by All-American Kelly Kretschman (25) and Carrie Moreman (15). The 18 home runs by Hunt is the third most in a single season in school history.
Alabama senior Cassie Reilly-Boccia just broke the career walks record as she now sports 176 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 137 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 126 stolen bases. Senior Amanda Locke is powering her way into the home run record book as she ranks third all-time with 53 career home runs. Kretschman holds the record with 60 career roundtrippers. Kendall Dawson threw out her school record 40th runner this past weekend against Florida. She was tied with Lacy Prejean, who had thrown out 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 1,177 games and start 948 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-Boccia leads the senior class with 242 games played and 229 starts.
Alabama has raced out to a 47-7 record and has been doing it in impressive fashion. The Tide has outscored its opponents 393-147, including a 97-22 advantage in the first inning. UA is averaging 7.27 runs per game and 8.2 hits per contest. Kayla Braud is averaging just under a run per game, while Jennifer Fenton is averaging a run per game. Cassie Reilly-Boccia and Amanda Locke are driving in nearly a run per game, and Kaila Hunt is averaging more than one run batted in per game. In the circle Jackie Traina is averaging 7.44 strikeouts per contest.
In the sixth installment of the RPI rankings, Alabama currently ranks No. 3 in the country. Cal is currently ranked No. 1 this week while Arizona State moves up to No. 2. Alabama has seven opponents on the schedule ranked in the top 25 and has a total of 17 in the top 50 of the RPI rankings.
NCAA TEAM STATS
Alabama is nationally ranked in several categories. The Crimson Tide is 14th in batting average (.318). They lead the nation in home runs (87) and are second in home runs per game (1.62). Alabama is second in runs (393) and third in runs per game (7.32). UA is also fifth in stolen bases (110) and sixth in stolen bases per game (2.08).
NCAA INDIVIDUAL STATS
Kayla Braud and Jennifer Fenton are sixth nationally with 35 stolen bases, while Braud is seventh in stolen bases per game (.69) while Fenton is eighth (.67). Kaila Hunt is 13th with 18 home runs, while Amanda Locke is 17th with 17 home runs on the year. Hunt is 14th in home runs per game (.35) and 14 in runs batted in per game (1.14). Jackie Traina is 2nd nationally in wins (31), 12th in strikeouts (268), and 11 in strikeouts per seven innings (9.2).
SEC TEAM STATS
Alabama leads the conference in almost every major offensive category. The Crimson Tide are first in batting average (.318), slugging percentage (.574), and on base percentage (.438). Alabama is also first in runs scored (393) and runs batted in (360). UA is first in home runs (87), walks (246) and stolen bases (111). The Crimson Tide are second overall with 429 hits on the year.
SEC INDIVIDUAL STATS
The Crimson Tide has a host of players across the SEC leaderboard in numerous categories. Kayla Braud is eighth in batting average (.362) and is tied for first in stolen bases with teammate Jennifer Fenton (35). Braud is also fourth in runs scored (48), while Fenton is second with 52 runs scored. Fenton is fifth with 11 doubles on the year. Jazlyn Lunceford is eighth with 42 runs scored on the year. Cassie Reilly-Boccia is fourth in the SEC with 41 walks and is also fourth in on-base percentage (.518). Amanda Locke is second in slugging percentage (.823), third in runs batted in (49), and second in home runs (17). Kaila Hunt leads the conference in home runs (18). Hunt is second in runs batted in (57), seventh in runs scored (43), and third in slugging percentage (.720). Jackie Traina leads the conference in wins (31), strikeouts (268) and strikeouts looking (66). Opponents have only batted .184 against her, good for sixth in the conference, and her 1.78 ERA is good for eighth.
FIVE EARN ALL-DISTRICT HONORS
The Alabama softball team had a Southeastern Conference best five selections to the Capital One Academic All-District team, the College Sports Information Directors of America announced Friday. The 2012 Capital One Academic All-District Softball Teams, selected by CoSIDA, recognize the nation's top student-athletes for their combined performances on the field and in the classroom. 2011 Academic All-American Kayla Braud earned District IV accolades for the second straight season and is joined by senior Cassie Reilly-Boccia, junior Jackey Branham and sophomores Jackie Traina and Kaila Hunt. Reilly-Boccia and Branham also earn the all-district honors last season. The five all-district honors is also a program record.
REILLY-BOCCIA NAMED A LOWE'S FINALIST
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.
The field of 64 will be announced on the annual ESPNU Selection Show. The broadcast is set for Sunday, May 13 at 9 p.m. CT.