Alabama Softball Preview: Season-Ending Showdown vs. Auburn
The final weekend of the regular season has arrived as No. 14/15 Alabama hosts No. 9/10 Auburn at Rhoads Stadium.
Auburn’s Frist Trip to Tuscaloosa under Clint Myers
Prior to this weekend, Auburn head coach Clint Myers has not brought any of his Auburn Tigers teams to Tuscaloosa since taking the head coaching job at Auburn in 2014.
Despite playing six games in the series since 2014, Alabama and Auburn have not played in Tuscaloosa since 2013. The two teams have split the six games played in the past three seasons. Alabama has won the only SEC series in that span downing the Tigers twice in a three-game SEC series in 2015.
Maintaining a Positive Outlook
While Alabama has lost six of their last eight games including their first ever series loss to Ole Miss, Crimson Tide head coach Patrick Murphy expressed an optimistic attitude about the spirit of his team during his conversation with reporters on Thursday.
“I’m really still pleased with them and happy with them. I know it didn’t go our way Monday night, even Saturday night when we were ahead 1-0 going into the seventh inning. It’s unfortunate because they worked really, really hard. They’ve bought into the team concept.” Murphy said.
Patrick Murphy’s Research Project
Coach Patrick Murphy also highlighted a research project he undertook after Saturday’s doubleheader split in Oxford.
Alabama’s head coach searched for the number of poor starts from the circle in the Tide’s prior 51 games this season and provided this answer.
“Two, South Carolina and ULL.” Murphy concluded.
Outside of an 11-2 loss at ULL and a 14-0 home loss to South Carolina, the Crimson Tide has surrendered more than four runs in a game twice.
Prior to Thursday’s practice, sophomore catcher Reagan Dykes discussed with reporters how Patrick Murphy’s research added insight for the team as to the sense of urgency to improve on offense.
“I just think it really opened our eyes four our team. It just really brought us together as a team. He challenged us that Sunday. I think that just with seeing what our pitchers have done this year and how great they’ve been that we just need to reach a level of their potential and be equal with them for all the games.” Dykes stated.
The primary area of interest for many observers this weekend involves the matchup between Auburn’s array of sluggers and Alabama’s pitching staff.
Although the Tigers have seen a dip in offensive production from record setting seasons in 2015 and 2016, they have a number of threats that could pose issue from the Crimson Tide.
In her first season as a starter, sophomore Kendall Veach is tied for third in the SEC with 11 home runs. The Selma, Alabama native has hit two round trippers in a game against Oklahoma and Georgia this season.
Two more players to keep a watchful eye on are junior Carlee Wallace and senior Kasey Cooper. Wallace leads the SEC with 18 doubles and also has a team-high 46 RBIs while Cooper is right behind her with 9 homers and 42 RBIs.
First pitch Friday and Saturday from Rhoads Stadium is at 7 PM while Sunday’s regular season finale begins at Noon.
College Softball around Alabama
Samford travels to Western Carolina with an opportunity to win the Southern Conference regular season title. The Bulldogs are one game in the loss column behind UNCG, Furman and ETSU for first in the conference. Samford can win the SoCon outright with a sweep of Western Carolina and losses by each of the three teams in front of them in the standings.
UAB hits the road for Huntington, West Virginia, for their final regular season series at Marshall. The Blazers split a rescheduled doubleheader Wednesday at Middle Tennessee winning game one 3-1 while losing game two 4-2.
Troy and South Alabama finish the regular season with the resumption of their three-game series Sunday in Troy. South Alabama blanked Troy 8-0 in five innings on March 29 thanks in part to a 5 RBI performance including a three-run shot from senior Amanda Minahan.
Jacksonville State wraps up their regular season with a Saturday twin bill at Tennessee Tech. The Gamecocks have already clinched an Ohio Valley Conference regular season title by going 15-1 in conference play.
Alabama State concluded regular season play Wednesday evening with a 7-2 loss at Mercer. The Hornets head into SWAC Tournament play 16-31 overall with a 10-8 conference record.