Across the Diamond: Alabama Softball Opens SEC Tournament Play
The Alabama Crimson Tide heads into the SEC Tournament with momentum thanks to a four-game winning including a huge three-game weekend sweep of Texas A&M on the final game of the regular season.
The Crimson Tide will be the eight seed in the tournament and take on in-state rival Auburn to open tournament play at 6:30 PM Wednesday evening from Columbia, Missouri.
Rematch with Auburn
For the third time in four seasons, Alabama will take on Auburn in the SEC Tournament.
The Tigers won two of three games over the Crimson Tide in Auburn’s second SEC weekend and the SEC opening series for Alabama.
In the rubber match of the series, Alexis Osorio left the game in the first inning after being struck by a line drive off the bat of Auburn’s Tannon Snow.
Along with Osorio, junior Courtney Gettins and freshman Madison Preston gave Alabama a chance to win the series by limiting Auburn to five runs over 21 innings pitched but the offense managed just four runs in three games including one run outing on the final two games of the series.
In addition to Alabama’s sweep of Texas A&M, Auburn rebounded from a weekend sweep at Texas A&M to sweep Chattanooga in a Sunday doubleheader to close the regular season.
The Crimson Tide leads the Tigers 47-22 in the all-time series, but the Tigers have won eight of the last 13 games including back-to-back weekend series wins and two straight victories in SEC Tournament play.
Offense Steps up Their Game
For much of the past two seasons, Alabama’s struggles at the plate prevented them from achieving greater success in the SEC and in the NCAA Tournament.
Last weekend against the Aggies, the Crimson Tide racked up 21 runs and recorded 26 hits in the three-game series.
Two players paced the Tide offense last weekend as Bailey Hemphill went 3-9 with two home runs, five RBIs and four walks while Demi Turner was 7-11 with two RBIs and five runs scored including a 4-5 performance in Sunday’s 5-4 win.
Turner’s performance raised her batting average 46 points to .255 on the season and earned her SEC Player of the Week honors.
Alabama’s Chances to Host a Regional
Since the advent of the NCAA’s super regional format in 2005, Alabama has hosted a regional in 13 consecutive seasons.
The Crimson Tide’s status as a regional host for 2018 has been a question mark throughout SEC play but took a favorable turn after the sweep of Texas A&M.
In Monday’s NCAA Regional bracket projection, Collegesportsmadness.com has Alabama as the 16 seed and one of the final teams to earn a host site in the NCAA Tournament.
College Softball Tidbits around Alabama
In addition to Auburn and Alabama, conference tournament play begins for the rest of the programs around the Yellowhammer State.
Troy and South Alabama head to Lafayette, Louisiana, to open Sun Belt Conference Tournament play. The Jaguars swept the Trojans in Sunday’s doubleheader 11-1 in five innings and 1-0 to close the regular season. No. 5 seed Troy opens the Sun Belt Conference Tournament Wednesday at 10 AM against No. 8 seed Louisiana-Monroe while South Alabama is the six seed and will battle seventh seeded Georgia Southern 30 minutes following Troy’s contest.
UAB finished the regular season in solid fashion by winning five of their final six games including winning two of three games at North Texas. Despite a losing overall record, the Blazers went 15-8-1 in conference play earning themselves the No. 2 seed and will enjoy a double bye in the C-USA Tournament.
Jacksonville State swept Tennessee Tech in their final Ohio Valley Conference doubleheader to earn a three seed in the OVC Tournament in Oxford, Alabama. The Gamecocks will open the tournament Wednesday at 10 AM against No. 6 seed Eastern Illinois.
Samford lost two of three games at home to SoCon regular season champion UNCG to close the regular season. Prior to the SoCon Tournament, senior Shelby Maze took home the conference’s Player of the Year honors. The Morris, Alabama native led the SoCon with 68 hits and a .410 batting average. The Bulldogs open the SoCon Tournament against Chattanooga Wednesday morning at 9 AM from the campus of UNCG.
Alabama State and Alabama A&M open SWAC Tournament play Wednesday from Montgomery. Alabama A&M won two of three games over Alabama State but dropped their final game of the regular season 6-5 in Huntsville to Mississippi Valley State. Alabama A&M takes on Prairie View A&M at 9 AM Wednesday while Alabama State faces Arkansas-Pine Bluff 30 minutes after the conclusion of game one.