Alabama Softball Recap: Pitching Dominates in the Kickin’ Chicken Classic
The 2017 regular season kicked off in grand fashion as the seventh ranked Alabama Crimson Tide waltzed through Conway, South Carolina to the tune of a 5-0 opening weekend.
Alabama held Towson, Coastal Carolina and Youngstown State to five runs scored over five games. In the process, the pitching staff recorded three shutouts including a shutout of each team in the field.
Alexis Osorio led the trio of pitchers going 11.2 innings without allowing a base runner including a perfect game performance Friday at Coastal Carolina. In that game, the junior from Riverside, California, set a new single-game school record with 19 strikeouts. Osorio also fanned six batters in her relief outing Saturday against Towson. For her efforts, the SEC named Osorio as their Pitcher of the Week.
While Osorio dazzled the competition from the circle, Sydney Littlejohn also excelled inside the circle to open the season. The senior from Rusk, Texas, earned a pair of shutout wins including a one-hit complete game shutout against Youngstown State in which she struck out 10 batters.
From the plate, the Crimson Tide showed promise up and down the batting order. True freshman center fielder Elissa Brown went 7-15 with 7 runs scored and three stolen bases as the Tide’s lead-off hitter.
Another freshman in Lafayette, Louisiana, native Bailey Hemphill began her Crimson Tide career with a bang. Hemphill earned SEC Freshman of the Week honors by going 7-14 with a team-high three round trippers, nine RBIs and a 1.214 slugging percentage.
Alabama returns to Tuscaloosa to open the home schedule against South Alabama. Like the Crimson Tide, the Jaguars also swept through their opening weekend taking all five games in the Sand Dollar Classic in Mobile.
Pitching also paced South Alabama as they limited opponents to a total of four runs during the weekend including three shutouts. Senior Devin Brown notched two wins while fanning 25 batters in 15.2 scoreless innings.
South Alabama’s most impressive win of the weekend came Saturday night against 2016 OVC champion Jacksonville State as Brown tossed a complete game shutout. She held the Gamecocks to four hits while striking out 12 batters and issuing just one walk.
First pitch for Alabama’s home opener against South Alabama is Wednesday at 5 PM from Rhoads Stadium.
College Softball around Alabama
With one of the toughest opening weekend slates in college softball, Auburn took three of four games in the Triple Crown Tournament in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, including a season-opening 3-2 victory over top ranked Oklahoma. While Auburn hit just .194 as a team, the pitching duo of Makayla Martin and Kaylee Carlson came up big for the Tigers. The duo allowed five earned runs on 35 hits over 31 innings this past weekend.
Jacksonville State got off to a solid start to their 2017 schedule going 4-1 in the Sand Dollar Classic. Their only loss came 1-0 at the hands of South Alabama. Stephanie Lewis and Jamie McGuire recorded eight hits and five RBIs each while Emily Woodruff posted a home run and six RBIs.
UAB and Samford suffered rough weekends to open the season. UAB traveled to Hawaii and proceeded to lose three games in the Paradise Classic. The Blazers lost 4-0 to Oregon State Thursday while dropping a 5-3 decision to Sacramento State and a 4-2 game to Boise State. Samford went 1-4 in the La Tech Invitational with losses to North Dakota, Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Incarnate Word each decided by one run. Senior Abbie Miranda finished the weekend 6-18 with one home run, eight RBIs and four runs scored.
Troy won three of five games at the FAU Kickoff Classic including a 5-3 win over North Carolina State on Saturday. Senior Becca Hartley hit safely in every game while adding two round trippers and six RBIs.