Alabama Softball Preview: Alabama Entertains South Carolina
With a quarter of the SEC schedule in the books, No 9 Alabama entertains the South Carolina Gamecocks from Rhoads Stadium beginning Friday evening.
Much Needed Break
For the first time this season, the Crimson Tide did not play a mid-week game prior to a weekend series or tournament. During a period from March 3-19, Alabama played a total of 15 games including two weeks where they played two mid-week games in addition to SEC series against Arkansas and Mississippi State. After the South Carolina series, Alabama has a mid-week game scheduled every week until the beginning of May.
During his conversation with reporters, Patrick Murphy referenced a past Nick Saban press conference to explain why he gave his team a few days off this week.
“I don’t know if it was six or seven years ago, Coach Saban was talking in a fall press conference, and I can remember him saying, ‘One day off is good. Two days is awesome.’ And that’s what we did this week.” Murphy said.
RPI Rankings Benefit
Earlier this week, Alabama came in as the second ranked team in the NCAA’s first RPI rankings for the 2017 softball season.
While the RPI is a big factor in selecting NCAA Tournament selection and deciding national seeds, Patrick Murphy discussed his thoughts on their initial RPI rankings and how the rankings affect the program’s scheduling of non-conference opposition.
“It’s huge. I was pleasantly surprised because you make your schedule in about 18 months in advance, and you base it on that previous year’s RPI, and you hope that those teams that maybe were in the top 50 of the RPI come through. Well some have and some haven’t. Anytime we play a non-conference opponent, after we play them, I become their biggest cheerleader because I want them to win because it’s going to help us out in the long run.” Murphy stated.
Patrick Murphy Approaching 1,000 Career Wins
With Alabama claiming a series win at Mississippi State last weekend, head coach Patrick Murphy took two steps closer to clinching an historic milestone. Murphy can reach 1,000 wins in his head coaching career if Alabama sweeps South Carolina this weekend. Coming into the South Carolina series, the veteran Alabama head coach has 997 wins with 969 wins coming as the head coach of the Crimson Tide.
The Gamecocks roll into Tuscaloosa looking to snap a five-game losing streak in SEC play. They throttled Tennessee 9-1 in six innings in their conference opener but have struggled from the circle in their SEC losses.
South Carolina pitching has surrendered 9.2 runs per game in their five SEC losses including 10 or more runs allowed in three losses.
Overall the Gamecocks have struggled defensively with the second worst fielding percentage (.962) and second highest amount of errors (33) in the SEC.
Offensively, South Carolina is led by Krystan White who leads the team in batting average (.388), hits (33) and RBIs (28).
Another Gamecock to watch is Kaylea Snaer. The senior first baseman went 4-5 with two runs scored in South Carolina’s 9-4 win over Gardner-Webb on Tuesday.
College Softball around Alabama
After winning five games in Tampa and Clearwater, Florida, No. 4 Auburn returns to SEC play by taking on No. 1 Florida in Gainesville. The series features two of the top four pitching teams in the SEC with the Gators having the best team ERA (0.54) and Auburn having the 4th best team ERA (1.20) in the SEC.
UAB came from behind at Troy to earn a 3-2 win Tuesday night. Natalie Erwin drove in the go-ahead run with a two-run double in the top of the seventh inning. The Blazers look to carry their momentum into this weekend’s College Preview Tournament in Oklahoma. UAB plays Mississippi State and Oklahoma in Oklahoma City Saturday afternoon while facing the Sooners on the OU campus Sunday.
Both Troy and South Alabama look to get off the mat after mid-week losses to UAB and Southern Miss respectively. The Trojans travel to Coastal Carolina for a three-game series while the Jaguars have one of their toughest weekends of the year at home against Louisiana-Lafayette.
Jacksonville State opens OVC play at home this weekend with doubleheaders Saturday against UT-Martin and Sunday against Southeast Missouri. The Gamecocks rebounded from a loss to Kennesaw State with a thorough 8-0 domination of Alabama A&M in five innings. Freshman Alexus Jimmerson drove in four of the eight runs in the win.
Samford opens Southern Conference play at home against Furman with a Saturday doubleheader and a single game on Sunday. The matchup is a rematch of the 2016 SoCon Tournament Championship Game when Samford edged Furman 4-3 in eight innings to claim their first ever conference tournament title.