May 17, 2012
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The Southeastern Conference regular season and tournament champions Alabama softball team (50-7) has been selected as the No. 2 seed nationally for the NCAA Tournament and will host Tennessee-Martin, South Alabama, and Georgia Tech in the Tuscaloosa Regional this weekend. South Alabama and Georgia Tech will open play on Friday, May 18, at 3:30 p.m., at Rhoads Stadium, while Alabama and UT-Martin will begin at 6 p.m. The winners of the two Friday games will face off at 1 p.m., on Saturday, May 19, with the Friday losers squaring off at 3:30 p.m. The final elimination game will be at 6 p.m., Saturday night. On Sunday, May 20, the championship game is set for 1 p.m. If necessary, a second game will follow at 3:30 p.m.
LAST TIME OUT
The Alabama softball team hosted the Southeastern Conference Tournament over the weekend and swept three games to become the first host team to win the tournament. It was Alabama’s fifth tournament title and marked the second time that the Crimson Tide had won the regular season and tournament title in the same year. Alabama previously accomplished the feat in 2010. Alabama opened the tournament with a 5-2 win over Mississippi State in front of a national television audience on ESPN. It was the 13th consecutive SEC Tournament opening win for Alabama and the 27th straight time Alabama has beaten MSU. The Crimson Tide followed up with a 1-0 shutout win over Georgia in the semifinals, behind a complete game from sophomore pitcher Jackie Traina. UA then beat Florida soundly, 10-1, in five innings, to win the tournament title. Jennifer Fenton paced Alabama at the plate, hitting .625 (5-for-8) with four runs and four stolen bases. Kaila Hunt batted .500 (4-for-8) and drove in seven runs on the weekend. In the circle, Traina went 2-0 and gave up just two earned runs, while Amanda Locke got the win in the title game and had a perfect 0.00 ERA.
WHO TO WATCH
Alabama has been led by three players in their surge to the SEC regular season and tournament titles in the past two weeks. In the past six games, Jennifer Fenton, Kaila Hunt, and Kayla Braud have led Alabama by batting over .400 and making several defensive plays. Fenton has batted .438 (7-for-16) with four stolen bases and seven runs scored. Hunt has batted .421 (8-for-19) with two home runs, seven runs batted in, and six runs scored, while Braud has batted .421 (8-for-19) and has hit two doubles and scored eight times while stealing five bases.
The Skyhawks of Tennessee-Martin enter the Tuscaloosa Regional with a 39-20 record after coming from behind to win the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament title over Tennessee Tech over the weekend. Trailing 2-1, the Skyhawks scored five fifth inning runs to prevail, 6-2, and become the first host team to win the tournament title and the regular season title since 2008. UTM is led by junior Leah Taylor, who is batting .387 (75-for-194) with seven home runs and 34 runs batted in. Taylor has also stolen 36 bases in 2012. Freshman Laura Smith leads the team with nine home runs and has driven in 35 runs on the year. Senior Chelsea Jones leads the Skyhawks in the circle with a 28-8 record on the year, adding a 2.21 ERA and 194 strikeouts in 250 innings of work. Tennessee-Martin is led by head coach Donley Canary, who has gone 331-247-2 in his 10 seasons in charge.
SCOUTING GEORGIA TECH
Georgia Tech enters the NCAA Tournament with a 36-21 record after winning their third Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament title in four years after defeating Virginia Tech, 9-1, in five innings. The Yellow Jackets are led by senior Kelsi Weseman, who is hitting .385 (40-for-104) with a team-high 13 home runs and 35 runs batted in. Junior Hope Rush has hit .322 (46-for-143) with 11 home runs and 42 runs batted in. Rush has also gone 25-12 in the circle, with a 2.01 ERA and 142 strikeouts in 237 innings pitched. Georgia Tech is led by coach Sharon Perkins, who has gone 264-105 in six seasons in charge of the Yellow Jackets.
SCOUTING SOUTH ALABAMA
The Jaguars of South Alabama enter the Tuscaloosa Regional after winning their first ever Sun Belt Conference Tournament title, defeating the sixth ranked Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns, 3-1, to win the title. The Jaguars are 39-15 on the year, and are led by junior Brittany Fowler, who has hit .346 (55-for-159) with seven home runs and 40 runs batted in. Junior Meghan Collins leads USA with eight home runs and has driven in 36 runs on the year. Sophomore Hannah Campbell has gone 23-10 in the circle for the Jaguars, with a 1.83 ERA and has 191 strikeouts in 210 2/3 innings of work. South Alabama is led by Becky Clark, who has gone 182-138-1 in her five seasons in charge.
Tennessee-Martin: This is the first meeting between the two schools.
Georgia Tech: Alabama leads the series, 13-3, after defeating the Yellow Jackets, 12-9, at the SEC/ACC/BIG XII Challenge in Auburn, Ala., in February. Seniors Jennifer Fenton and Cassie Reilly-Boccia each had four hits for Alabama and three RBI apiece to pace UA to victory. Amanda Locke hit a prodigious blast for her third home run on the year, and Jackie Traina pitched a complete game to earn the win.
South Alabama: Alabama leads the overall series, 5-0, having defeated South Alabama in February on the road at the Mardi Gras Invitational to open the 2012 season via run rule, 12-1 in five innings. Eight different players had at least one hit for UA, as Kaila Hunt and Amanda Locke hit homers and Jazlyn Lunceford had three hits on the day as the Tide cruised to victory.
ALABAMA VERSUS 2012 NCAA TOURNAMENT TEAMS
Alabama has faced off against 17 teams in the NCAA Tournament and has posted a 33-5 record, winning eight series against the Southeastern Conference schools that made the tournament (out of nine). Kaila Hunt went .333 (36-for-108) with 11 home runs and 42 runs batted in in 36 games against tournament-bound foes. Kayla Braud and Jennifer Fenton combined to steal 44 bases against those teams. Jackie Traina went 25-2 with 223 strikeouts and a 1.80 ERA against NCAA Tournament teams. Alabama, as a team, hit 55 home runs and drove in 227 runs against tournament-bound teams, while their pitchers threw 286 strikeouts and had a 2.05 ERA against the 17 teams.
ALABAMA IN NCAA TOURNAMENT PLAY
The Crimson Tide earned its 14th consecutive NCAA tournament bid in 2012. In just 16 years of existence, the Alabama softball program is about to play in its 14th NCAA Regional and has played in seven Super Regionals. The Tide has advanced to an NCAA Regional in every season under head coach Patrick Murphy. The Crimson Tide have a 54-28 record in NCAA tournament action (including regional (35-9), super regional (11-5) and World Series (8-14)) and have won nine NCAA Regional titles (2000, `03, `05, `06, `07, `08, `09, `10 & `11), including seven in a row and five Super Regional titles (2005, '06, '08, '09 & '11). This is the eighth consecutive year Alabama has been selected to host an NCAA Regional.
SEC ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
Alabama put four players onto the 2012 SEC Tournament All-Tournament team. Senior Jennifer Fenton, junior Kayla Braud, and sophomores Kaila Hunt and Jackie Traina were all named to the team, while Traina was selected as the Most Valuable Player of the tournament. Fenton, Hunt, and Braud combined to bat .470 (12-for-25) with five stolen bases, 10 runs scored and seven runs batted in. Traina went 2-0 in the tournament with a 2.00 ERA and had 13 strikeouts in 14 innings of work.
GOT THAT THREE-PEAT
With the series win over Florida on May 4-6, 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.
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 FINALIST
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.
SIX NAMED TO NFCA ALL-REGION FIRST TEAM
The Alabama softball team tied a school record with six All-South Region first team accolades, the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) announced on May 17. The six first-team honors ties the 2009 team and was the most of any team in the country. Alabama was the only team this year to place all six of its nominees on its respective region’s first team. Senior Cassie Reilly-Boccia (1B), sophomore Kaila Hunt (SS), junior Kaila Braud (OF), senior Jennifer Fenton (OF), sophomore Jackie Traina (UTL/P) and senior Amanda Locke (UTL/DP) nabbed the honors for the Crimson Tide.
ALABAMA REACHES 50 WINS AGAIN
With the victory over Florida in the SEC Tournament Championship Game, Alabama reached the 50-win mark for the 10th time in its history. UA has won 50 or more games in eight straight seasons which is the longest streak in SEC history. The 10, 50 win seasons are also the most in SEC history as LSU has nine 50 win seasons and posted a streak of seven consecutive 50-win years in the late 90s to early 2000s.
SEC WESTERN DIVISION CHAMPIONS
Alabama clinched its 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.
HOME RUN POWER
Alabama enters the NCAA Tournament second in the country with 90 home runs. The Tide has been hitting the longball consistently as of late, going deep in 34 of the last 41 games. Overall the Tide has belted a home run in 46 of the 57 games and has hit two or more home runs in 31 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 were 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 177 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 140 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 130 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 against Florida, and now has 42 in her career. 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 1,192 games and start 963 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 245 games played and 232 starts.
Alabama has raced out to a 50-7 record and has been doing it in impressive fashion. The Tide has outscored its opponents 409-150, including a 99-22 advantage in the first inning. UA is averaging 7.18 runs per game and 8.1 hits per contest. Kayla Braud and Jennifer Fenton are averaging just under a run per game, while Amanda Locke is 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 7.4 strikeouts per contest.
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.
In the seventh installment of the RPI rankings, Alabama currently ranks No. 2 in the country. Cal is currently ranked No. 1 this week. Alabama has six opponents on the schedule ranked in the top 25 and has a total of 19 in the top 50 of the RPI rankings.
NCAA TEAM STATS
Alabama is nationally ranked in several offensive categories. Alabama is 12th overall with a .317 batting average. The Crimson Tide is second in home runs with 83 and is third with 1.58 home runs per game. Alabama is second in runs scored (409) and averages 7.18 runs per game, also good for third in the nation. The Tide has a .566 slugging percentage, which puts them fourth in the country. Alabama is fourth with 121 stolen bases, and their 2.12 stolen bases per game is ranked fifth overall.
NCAA INDIVIDUAL STATS
Jennifer Fenton is 25th in the country in scoring per game (1.0) and ranks seventh in stolen bases per game (.70). Kayla Braud is ninth in stolen bases per game (.65). Sophomore Kaila Hunt is tied for 14th in the nation in home runs (18) while teammate Amanda Locke is tied for 22nd. Hunt is also 15th in home runs per game (.34). Locke is 22nd in home runs per game (.31). Hunt’s 64 runs batted in are good for fifth overall, and she is seventh in runs batted in per game (1.21). Jackie Traina is 12th in strikeouts (281) and is 14th in strikeouts per seven innings (9.0).
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 (409) and runs batted in (375). UA is first in home runs (90), walks (261) and stolen bases (121). The Crimson Tide is first overall with 462 hits on the year.
SEC INDIVIDUAL STATS
Jennifer Fenton and Kayla Braud are first and second in stolen bases, with 39 and 36, respectively. Fenton is eighth in batting average (.358) and second in runs scored (56). Braud is 10th in batting average (.356) and third in runs scored (53) and eighth in hits (58). Fenton is fifth in doubles with 11. Jazlyn Lunceford is ninth in on-base percentage (.473), while Cassie Reilly-Boccia is fourth (.511). Lunceford is eighth in the conference with 43 runs. Kaila Hunt is first in home runs (18) and runs batted in (64), in addition to being third in slugging percentage (.735) and sixth in runs (45). Amanda Locke is second in slugging percentage (.787) and third in both home runs (17) and runs batted in (51). Reilly-Boccia is seventh in runs batted in (43). Jackie Traina is seventh in ERA (1.73) and sixth in opponent batting average (.187). Traina is first in innings pitched (218.2), strikeouts (281), strikeouts looking (70), and wins (33).