Softball Preview: Alabama Travels to South Carolina for Final SEC Road Series
No. 4 Alabama hits the road this weekend to face South Carolina in their final SEC road trip of the season.
With six games left in the regular season, Alabama and South Carolina still have a lot riding on this weekend’s series. The Crimson Tide is tied for fourth with Tennessee, and tied in percentage points with Kentucky for third in the SEC standings. Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky are battling for two of the three first day byes in the SEC Tournament.
South Carolina in 12th place in the SEC, two games ahead of Mississippi State. The Gamecocks lost all three games last weekend at LSU, but come into the weekend off a solid 4-1 win over Furman to close their non-conference schedule.
The Gamecocks have hit the third fewest homers in the SEC with 28 round trippers as a team. Individually, senior Alaynie Page leads South Carolina with eight home runs and 39 RBIs.
While South Carolina isn’t proficient in the long ball, they have seven players batting over .300 led by junior Kaylea Snaer’s .381 batting average along with an SEC leading 24 doubles.
Another area to keep an eye out for South Carolina is on the bases. As a team, the Gamecocks have 50 steals led by Page with 15 steals and freshman Alexis Mack with 14 steals.
From the circle, the Gamecocks pitching staff has a respectable 2.95 ERA. Walks have been an issue as South Carolina has walked 179 batters in 33 games with junior Jessica Elliott posting 92 walks in 146 innings pitched.
Alabama enjoyed the week off after winning a hard fought home series from Kentucky last weekend.
Sydney Littlejohn comes off her best performance of the season with a complete game shutout of the Wildcats. Offensively, Leona Lafaele continued her hot streak with two more homers against Kentucky. The senior first baseman has hit 7 of her 11 home runs since the Southern Miss game April 12.
Senior Haylie McCleney is within reach of an exclusive club at Alabama. The All-American center fielder is five hits away from becoming the fourth player in Crimson Tide history to record 300 hits, 200 runs scored and 100 stolen bases in the crimson and white.
In addition to making history on the field, McCleney was named the H. Boyd McWhorter Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year by the SEC. It’s the first time ever for an Alabama softball player to receive the award and just the second softball player in SEC to be recognized for the award.
First pitch Friday is at 5 PM. Saturday’s start time is at 4 PM on the SEC Network while the series finale Sunday begins at Noon.
College Softball Notes Around Alabama:
-#3 Auburn wraps up the SEC road schedule with a trip to #13 Tennessee. Auburn comes into the weekend tied with Florida for first in the SEC.
-Samford travels to ETSU for their final road series in SoCon play. The Bulldogs can clinch at least a share of the SoCon regular season title a series win.
-Jacksonville State plays their final OVC road series of the year at Eastern Kentucky. JSU leads EKU by 5.5 games in the standings and can clinch the OVC regular season title with one win this weekend.
-UAB got shutout by both Chattanooga and Ole Miss in mid-week action. Chattanooga blanked UAB 3-0 Tuesday in Birmingham while Ole Miss took care of the Blazers 5-0 in Oxford, Mississippi, Wednesday. UAB hosts their final C-USA home series of the season against UTSA.
-South Alabama snapped a five-game losing streak with a 2-1 win at Mississippi State to close the non-conference portion of the schedule.
-Alabama State travels to Alabama A&M for the weekend of the season for both teams. Alabama State can claim a SWAC regular season crown with a sweep of their arch rivals.