One of the fundamental building blocks of competing in the SEC is winning on the road. In their first SEC road trip of the season, the Alabama Crimson Tide took two of three games in Starkville against the Mississippi State Bulldogs.

Alabama’s offense opened the series with a bang thanks to their second highest single-game run total of the season in an 11-3 victory in five innings Friday night. Seven of the nine starters in the batting order recorded at least one hit with Marissa Runyon falling a home run shy of the cycle. The senior from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, went 3-3 with a triple, double, 2 RBIs and a run scored. Peyton Grantham also contributed to the game one inning by launching a three run blast to center field to open the scoring in the top of the first inning.

Outside of Friday’s dominating win, the Crimson Tide offense struggled in Saturday’s 1-0 loss and Sunday’s 3-0 win. Mississippi State starting pitcher Holly Ward took a no-hitter into the top of the sixth inning until Demi Turner and Chandler Dare singled to provide Alabama one of their only run scoring opportunities in game two of the series.

Similar to Sunday, Alabama did not light the world on fire offensively but scratched out enough key hits to claim the series. Sydney Booker came through toward the bottom of the order in the rubber match. Prior to the game, Booker had a .176 batting average. Batting eighth in the order, the junior shortstop went 2-3 with a home run, 2 RBIs and a run scored.

SEC Positioning

The series win in Starkville allows the Crimson Tide to maintain their position as an early contender for the SEC regular season title. Through the first quarter of the SEC schedule, Alabama is tied with Texas A&M for second in the conference with both teams one game in the loss column behind first place Florida.

First RPI Ranking of 2017

One of the factors that the NCAA Selection Committee uses to select the field of 64 is the Ratings Percentage Index. Similar to college basketball, the RPI for college softball rates teams based on their winning percentage, their opponent’s winning percentage and the winning percentage of their opponents’ opponents.

The NCAA released their first RPI rankings for the 2017 season on Monday. Alabama is the second ranked team in the RPI behind Washington and ahead of Arizona, Texas A&M and Baylor who round out the top five of this week’s RPI.

The Crimson Tide will be off from competition until Friday when they host South Carolina for the first of a three game SEC series.

College Softball around Alabama

Auburn coasted to a five-game sweep in the Michelle Smith Parks and Rec Tournament. In Saturday’s 8-0 win over Ohio State, junior pitcher Kaylee Carlson tossed the second perfect game in Auburn history. Carlson fanned three batters and did not reach a three-ball count against any Ohio State batter.

Samford took three of four games during the Skyhawk Hampton Inn Classic at UT-Martin. During the tournament, veteran slugger Abby Sweeney 7-11 with 3 home runs, 8 RBIs, 2 doubles and 2 runs scored. For her efforts, Sweeney was award the Southern Conference’s Player of the Week. Not to be outdone, senior pitcher Jessica Stone earned the SoCon’s Pitcher of the Week with two wins from the circle including a complete game, two-hit shutout of Western Illinois on Saturday.

Troy University and South Alabama claimed series wins at home in Sun Belt Conference play. The Trojans took the series from Georgia State in heroic fashion thanks to a two-run walk-off round tripper from sophomore Stephanie Snyder. South Alabama beat Coastal Carolina in two of their three games in Mobile.

UAB lost two of three games at UTSA but saw Claire Blount and Amy Waters put on an offensive display Saturday afternoon. Blount and Waters each homered twice and drove in three runs a piece in their 6-1 win in the series finale.

Jacksonville State split their Saturday non-conference twin bill at Kennesaw State. JSU won game one 15-5 in six innings in game one while Kennesaw State bounced back in game two for a 4-3 win.

Alabama State and Alabama A&M kicked off SWAC play over the weekend. Alabama State swept Arkansas-Pine Bluff in three games while Alabama A&M dropped two of three games at home to Texas Southern.