Alabama Softball Recap: Crimson Tide Earns No. 16 National Seed
The No. 15/16 Alabama Crimson Tide solidified the No. 16 national seed in the NCAA Tournament thanks to a solid performance in the SEC Tournament.
The Crimson Tide defeated Arkansas and No. 11 Texas A&M before falling to No. 19 Ole Miss in the semifinals of the SEC Tournament.
While Alabama’s offense managed only seven runs in their three games in Knoxville, true freshman Bailey Hemphill.
The Lafayette, Louisiana native led the team going 4-7 with two round trippers and four RBIs. Hemphill recorded an RBI in all three games in the SEC Tournament including a go-ahead home run in the top of the 10th inning against Texas A&M Thursday.
Alabama Hosts an NCAA Regional Again
In what has become an annual occurrence in the month of May, Alabama will host the NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional as the No. 16 national seed in the NCAA Tournament. They will host Minnesota, Louisiana Tech and Albany beginning Friday.
The Crimson Tide softball program will host an NCAA Regional for the 13th consecutive season and the 15th time in school history.
Coming into this season, Alabama is the only program in college softball to advance to a Super Regional since its inception in 2005.
Moments after watching the announcement of the tournament field with his team, Alabama head coach Patrick Murphy discussed the dynamics of the selection committee and when he thought his team had secured an NCAA Regional host site.
“The committee is not the same year after year after year. Four or five go off, and then they got four new people. They might have different ideas, and they might have served on a volleyball or a basketball committee, and they do things differently and then you just never know. The baseball committee is totally different than what the softball committee does. So whatever that group decides, that goes.” Murphy said. “I thought we had a good shot of hosting when we beat (Texas) A&M at the SEC Tournament.”
Minnesota Travels South
One of the most controversial story lines of Selection Sunday involved the apparent snub of Minnesota from hosting a regional.
The Golden Gophers (54-3, 22-1) won both the regular season and tournament championships in the Big 10 and went 16-0 at home during the regular season.
During their journey through the regular season, Minnesota was 16-3 against NCAA Regional teams including a pair of wins over Notre Dame and Texas and wins at LSU, Oregon State and Cal.
Even though they compiled a 54-3 record coming NCAA Regional play, Minnesota is ranked 11th in this week’s NCAA RPI rankings. A big reason for that is the lack of wins and games against RPI Top 25 teams.
The Gophers are just 2-2 against the RPI Top 25 while recording a 14-3 mark against the RPI Top 50. In comparison, Alabama is 15th in this week’s NCAA RPI rankings and has a record of 8-13 against the RPI Top 25 and 15-16 against the RPI Top 50.
13 SEC Teams in NCAA Regional Play
Arguably the biggest story on Selection Sunday was the SEC’s incredible success in the NCAA Tournament bracket.
For the first time in conference history, every SEC team was selected to participate in the NCAA Tournament. Of the 13 conference teams, eight will host a regional.
During his chat with reporters, Patrick Murphy outlined his reasons for all 13 SEC softball programs making the 2017 NCAA Tournament
“We had a lot of questions at the SEC Tournament about why should all 13 get in, and I came back to the resumes of all those teams. To go in weekend after weekend after weekend and playing a top 25, top 30 RPI team and to come away with a winning record is just unbelievable, and I think all 13 deserve to get in.” Murphy stated.
College Softball around Alabama
In addition to Alabama, Auburn received an at-large bid as the No. 7 national seed and will host ETSU, Cal and Notre Dame. The Tigers split their two SEC Tournament games using a Kendall Veach two-run homer to down Kentucky 2-0 but lost to LSU in the semifinals 6-0 Saturday afternoon in Knoxville.
Jacksonville State went 4-0 in the OVC Tournament to claim their second straight conference tournament championship. The Gamecocks battled back from a 4-0 deficit in the OVC Tournament Championship Game to beat SIU 5-4. Jamie McGuire, Whitney Gillespie and Alexus Jimmerson homered in the victory. Gillespie took home MVP honors for the tournament. JSU travels to the Athens Regional where they will battle Georgia to begin the NCAA Tournament Friday afternoon.
Samford battled back from an opening round loss Wednesday to reach the championship round of the Southern Conference Tournament. The Bulldogs fell in their opening game to Mercer but defeated Chattanooga, UNCG and Mercer before falling to ETSU in Saturday’s championship game.
Alabama State made an appearance in the SWAC Tournament Championship Game needing two wins on Saturday to make their second straight NCAA Tournament trip. The Hornets defeated Texas Southern 7-6 early Saturday afternoon but fell 6-4 in the winner-take-all matchup from Montgomery.
UAB saw their season end in the first round of the Conference USA Tournament. The Blazers lost 12-7 in 12 innings to Western Kentucky. Mary Warren went 3-4 with 3 RBIs in the loss.
South Alabama went 2-2 in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament in Troy. The Jaguars opened the tournament shutting out UT-Arlington 5-0 Wednesday but fell 6-0 to Louisiana-Lafayette the following day. After a 3-2 win in eight innings over Louisiana-Monroe, South Alabama fell to UT-Arlington 2-1 in an elimination game Friday afternoon.
UAH and North Alabama saw their seasons come to a close in the NCAA Division II South 2 Regional. UAH went 1-2 in the regional while North Alabama split four games including a 4-2 victory over UAH in an elimination game Friday.