Softball Preview: #4 Alabama Travels to #15/16 Texas A&M
The Alabama Crimson Tide puts a six-game winning streak at stake this weekend against the Texas A&M Aggies.
After pulling off a series win at Florida two weeks ago, Alabama has dispatched three teams from the state of Mississippi over their last five games. The Crimson Tide has combined to outscore Mississippi Valley State, Mississippi State and Southern Miss 44-3.
In Tuesday’s 7-1 win at Southern Miss, Alexis Osorio stymied the Southern Miss batting order as they managed a late run in the seventh inning. Osorio pitched a complete game allowing just one run on four hits with 3 walks and 10 strikeouts.
Although the Alabama offense only got four hits, they took advantage of shaky Southern Miss fielding and inconsistent pitching from starting pitcher Danielle Block to take a 6-0 lead half way through the game.
While Alabama’s strength all season long has been pitching, the pitching staff is taking things to another level. In SEC play alone, Alabama has allowed the fewest walks (23), the second fewest hits (69) and the third fewest runs (33).
A mark of a consistent team is the ability not to beat themselves and make their opponent earn a win. Alabama’s defense has been able one of the top fielding teams in the SEC with just 27 errors in 43 games.
As Sydney Littlejohn’s stock is rising from the circle, so is her recognition nationally. The junior pitcher was selected along with Haylie McCleney as a finalist for the 2016 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year. Littlejohn leads the SEC with 16 wins and is fifth in the conference with 86 strikeouts.
As Alabama made history as a program last week against Mississippi Valley State, Haylie McCleney is close to setting a rare individual milestone. The senior center fielder needs nine hits to become the fourth players in Crimson Tide history to have 300 hits, 200 runs and 100 stolen bases in a career.
With her versatility, McCleney was selected as a third round pick in the National Pro Fastpitch Draft by the USSSA Pride. McCleney becomes the first Alabama player selected by an NPF team since Kelsi Dunne and Whitney Larsen were chosen in 2011.
The Crimson Tide packs their bags for College Station, Texas, for a weekend series with the Texas A&M Aggies. Texas A&M has comes in 31-9 overall, 5-7 in the SEC but is ranked in the top 20 in both national polls. The Aggies lost all three games at Tennessee last weekend and could use a series win badly. Although Texas A&M has a 2-7 road record, they have played well at home going 21-2 at the Aggie Softball Complex.
Texas A&M is the best hitting team that Alabama has faced in SEC play. They are second in the SEC as a team in home runs (52) and batting average (.339). Individually, freshman left fielder Keeli Milligan leads the country with 46 stolen bases and has been caught stealing twice.
First pitch Friday is at 6:30 PM with start times Saturday at 3 PM and Sunday at 1:30 PM.
College Softball Notes Around Alabama:
-#2/3 Auburn extended their winning streak to 13 games with an 8-1 win at UAB Wednesday. The Tigers return to SEC play with a weekend series at Arkansas
-The Samford Bulldogs picked up their first win against Troy since 2006 with an 8-6 decision in rainy weather Wednesday at Troy. The Bulldogs have a three-game lead in the SoCon standings as they host Western Carolina who is second in the SoCon standings.
-South Alabama begins an eight game road trip this weekend series at Georgia Southern.
-Jacksonville State won their eighth straight home game 4-2 in 8 innings over Alabama A&M. The Gamecocks look to stay undefeated in the OVC with a weekend series at home against Morehead State.
-In the NCAA Division III ranks, Birmingham Southern is on a 12-game winning streak and is ranked sixth in the national polls. BSC wraps up their regular season this weekend at home against Hendrix College.