Across the Diamond: Alabama Softball Dominates the Tuscaloosa Regional
Alabama softball rolled through the NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional allowing just one run in three games against Middle Tennessee, Wisconsin and Oregon State.
The Crimson Tide advances to the Seattle Super Regional where they will face a rematch against the Washington Huskies.
Bailey Hemphill's Hot Bat
Since her return to the lineup in the series finale at Georgia, sophomore slugger Bailey Hemphill has been a catalyst to the Crimson Tide reaching the Seattle Super Regional.
In her last nine games, Hemphill has gone 10-17 with five home runs, 17 RBIs, eight runs scored and 11 walks.
After Saturday's 9-1 win over Wisconsin, the Lafayette, Louisiana native listed two factors for her recent hot streak.
"Just being aggressive and having confidence is the key to success." Hemphill said.
While discussing Hemphill's long ball against Wisconsin, head coach Patrick Murphy talked about how her aggressiveness at the plate has filled a need in the cleanup spot in the order.
"Last year, I thing she probably would have took that pitch and hoped for the walk, and then that's the difference between her last year and this year is she wants the RBI. She wants to hit the ball hard, and that's what I want out of that hitter in the three/four hole." Murphy said.
Alabama's Offensive Resurgence
Hemphill's hot bat has sparked a resurgence in Alabama's offensive production.
Since April 29, Alabama has averaged 6.6 runs per game and scored at least six runs in seven of their past nine outings and his swatted 10 round trippers as a team..
Following Saturday's pummeling of Wisconsin, junior catcher Reagan Dykes relayed one of Patrick Murphy's primary points of emphasis for the offensive coming into the weekend.
"Murph (Patrick Murphy) challenged us this week just to pick a zone and attack that zone aggressively, swinging the bat, and so that's kind of what the hitters have been focusing on is getting a good pitch and attack the core." Dykes said.
Peaking at the Right Time
A hallmark of Patrick Murphy's two decades at Alabama has been their success in NCAA Tournament play.
With the three wins in this weekend's NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional, the Crimson Tide extended their NCAA Regional winning streak to 37 games. The program's last loss in a regional came in 2007 to Tennessee Tech.
Toward the end of Saturday's postgame press conference, Patrick Murphy mentioned several reasons for his program's history of success in the postseason including the home field advantage provided by Rhoads Stadium and how this year's team has adopted an attitude of winning as part of their overall team identity.
"The weather, the fans, and I just really think that this team has kind of adopted that this is our house. This is our time. This is what we do in regionals and we peak at the right time." Murphy said.
Alabama's head coach also mentioned how resting his primary starters during the season helps to keep them fresh for the postseason.
"I still think giving them rest during the season and leading up to this is one of the keys because you don't want them burned out. You don't want them tired at the end of the season." Murphy said.
College Softball Tidbits around Alabama
Auburn and Jacksonville State ended their runs in the NCAA Tournament in the Tallahassee Regional.
The Tigers started off regional play with a 5-2 victory over Atlantic Sun Conference champion Kennesaw State.
Alyssa Rivera delivered a go-ahead two-run single while Kendall Veach drove in a run with a double to left field in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Auburn then fell 2-1 to Florida State in eight innings in Saturday's winner's bracket contest. Veach recorded the only RBI of the game for the Tigers with a fourth inning sacrifice fly. The Seminoles won the game in the bottom of the eighth on Carsyn Gordon's inside the park home run.
After falling to Florida State 8-0 Friday and eliminating Kennesaw State 5-3 in 10 innings Saturday afternoon, Jacksonville State earned one of their most historic moments in program history. The Gamecocks fought back and forth against the Tigers throughout Saturday night's elimination game until sophomore Alexus Jimmerson knocked in a two-run double to catapult Jacksonville State to a 3-2 win over their in-state rival.
On championship Sunday, the Gamecocks once again fell to Florida State 10-0 to close the season.