Softball Preview: #4 Alabama Closes the Regular Season vs. #15 Georgia [Audio]
The Alabama Crimson Tide closes the regular season with another top 25 opponent in the 15th ranked Georgia Bulldogs.
Alabama has a mathematical possibility of winning the SEC regular season title, but the Gators have a three-game lead over Alabama and host Arkansas who is 1-20 in the conference.
Despite the slim odds of earning the top seed in the SEC Tournament, the Crimson Tide has an opportunity to clinch a first day tournament bye and possibility earn a three seed with a sweep against Georgia. A series win would also aid Alabama in securing a national seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Coming into the series, Alabama is one of three SEC teams ranked in the top 5 of the NCAA Softball Selection Committee’s top 10 rankings. While the ranking has little bearing in who gets a national seed, head coach Patrick Murphy credited a tough schedule and his team’s consistency for being in position to get a national seed during his appearance on The Gary Harris Show.
“It starts with the schedule, and then the next thing is it’s all about the players, and they have to do some things in order for us to be in the top eight, and they did a bunch of good things this year.” Murphy said.
Alabama will attempt to bolster their chances for a national seed against #15 Georgia. The Bulldogs come in at 39-14 with an 11-10 SEC record. The Bulldogs are among the most experienced teams in the SEC with six seniors along with five juniors.
From the plate, Georgia leads the SEC with a .352 batting average, is tied for fourth with 52 home runs as a team and is fourth in the conference with 77 team doubles. Individually, senior infielder Tina Iosefa leads the SEC with 73 RBIs and is tied for first in the conference with 17 round trippers.
This weekend marks the final regular season home series for seniors Haylie McCleney, Kallie Case, Andrea Hawkins and Leona Lafaele.
Alabama has a chance to set an NCAA attendance record this weekend. Patrick Murphy described what it will take to set the record and how much of a priority it is for the program.
“The goal was to average 3,000 fans a game. It’s never been done in college softball. We’re averaging around 3,100. This weekend could put us over the mark for sure, but we need to average over 3,000 in each game.” Murphy said.
ESPN will air Saturday’s game with first pitch at 11 AM. The series opener begins at 6:30 PM Friday while Sunday’s regular season finale starts at 1 PM.
College Softball Notes Around Alabama
-After two humiliating losses at Tennessee Sunday and a cancellation due to weather Monday, #6 Auburn closes the regular season at home against #17 Texas A&M. Auburn can clinch the two seed in the SEC Tournament with two wins against the Aggies.
-Samford can make program history at home this weekend against UNCG. The Bulldogs need only one win to clinch their first ever SoCon regular season championship, the top seed in the SoCon Tournament and a first day tournament bye. Samford will honor six seniors including former Hillcrest Patriot Callie Brister on Sunday.
-With an OVC title in hand, Jacksonville State looks to go undefeated in conference play as they’ll host Belmont. Since losing to UAB on March 16, the Gamecocks have won 11 straight home games.
-UAB finished their non-conference schedule with a 4-2 win at Lipscomb on Tuesday. The Blazers conclude the regular season at North Texas with an opportunity to play their way to a two seed in the C-USA Tournament.
-South Alabama and Troy face off in Mobile to end the regular season. South Alabama needs one win to secure a number two seed and a first day Sun Belt Tournament bye.
-Two Gulf South Conference teams won opening day NCAA Division II Tournament games. North Alabama dispatched SIAC champion Tuskegee 5-0 while UAH defeated St. Leo 3-0. UNA hosts UAH in a winners bracket game Friday while Tuskegee will try to stay alive in the losers bracket against St. Leo.