TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The No. 4 ranked Alabama softball team (23-3, 1-2 SEC) will continue Southeastern Conference play on the road as it will head to Columbia, S.C., to take on South Carolina (16-6, 0-0 SEC). The two teams will begin the three-game set on Friday, March 15, with first pitch slated for 6 p.m. CT. The Saturday contest will air live on CSS at 11 a.m. CT, with Melissa Lee and Cheri Kempf on the call from the new Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckham Field.
LAST TIME OUT
The top-ranked Alabama softball team ran into tough competition this past week, dropping three of the four games it played. The Crimson Tide saw its winning streak halted at 22 as No. 4 Florida downed Alabama, 8-4, in Tuscaloosa on Wednesday for its first loss of 2013. The Tide then opened Southeastern Conference play on the road in Knoxville, losing two of the three games to the Lady Vols. Alabama dropped the first two games, each by one run, before earning a 7-1 victory on Sunday. UA batted .252 on the week, had a 3.72 ERA and was even in run differential at 15-15.
WHO TO WATCH
Alabama freshman outfielder Andrea Hawkins batted .600 (6-for-10) in her three starts against No. 8 Tennessee this past weekend. The rookie, in her first Southeastern Conference action of her career tallied two hits in all three games. Her hits came at crucial times for the Tide as she led the team with four RBI. The Bay City, Texas native had at least one RBI in all three games, tallying two in the opener and one in each of the final two contests.
SCOUTING SOUTH CAROLINA
South Carolina enters the weekend with a 16-6 overall record and has yet to dive into Southeastern Conference play. The Gamecocks split a doubleheader during the week against Furman, dropping the opener, 8-6, before winning the nightcap, 6-5. South Carolina is batting .358 with 24 home runs and 49 stolen bases. SC has outscored its opponents, 198-76. In the circle, the Gamecocks sport a 3.02 ERA and have struck out 97 in 136 2/3 innings. Samie Garcia paces SC with a .467 average, adding a home run and 14 stolen bases. Chelsea Hawkins has provided the punch with five home runs and 20 RBI while adding a .384 average. In the circle, Audrey Broyles leads the team with a 2.75 ERA and a 5-2 record. She has struck out 27 in 40 2/3 innings.
In 48 meetings in the series, Alabama is leading, 32-16. In the 2012 series the Tide swept South Carolina with the last game ending in a 19-4 decision for Alabama. In the first inning Amanda Locke set the tone with a grand slam, the first in her career, followed immediately by two solo home runs from Jackie Traina and Danae Hays. Alabama scored nine more runs in the second inning and the final three in the bottom of the fourth inning with a total of 11 hits and 18 RBI. UA outscored SC, 35-10, hit .362, smashed eight home runs and pitched at a 3.29 clip.
MURPHY CLOSING IN ON 800
Alabama head coach Patrick Murphy is rapidly closing in on 800 wins for his career. Murphy enters the weekend with a 795-221 record in 16 seasons, 15 while at the helm of the Crimson Tide. At Alabama, Murphy has accumulated a 767-201 record. He spent one season at Northwest Missouri State, where he went 28-20 in his first head coaching assignment.
ALABAMA ON THE ROAD IN SEC
Alabama heads to Columbia with a 158-73 record all-time on the road during conference play. The Crimson Tide has never had a losing season on the road on the league circuit, with its worst record coming in 1999, when they finished 8-8. UA has tallied 10 or more wins on the road, nine times, finished with a program best 13 wins, three times.
ALABAMA IN THE NCAA
In the NCAA weekly rankings the Crimson Tide comes in third in stolen bases per game with 72 steals in 26 games. In the circle the Tide is ninth in the NCAA for ERA with a 1.40 clip. Haylie McCleney ranks second in the nation in batting average with a .512 mark as well as ninth in runs per game with 1.31. McCleney is ranked first in toughest to strike out having yet to be returned to the dugout. Kayla Braud is ninth in stolen bases with .85 per game.
SEC TEAM STATS
Alabama's .330 batting average ranks fourth in the SEC, with its 188 runs ranked second. The Tide is first in the SEC steals category reaching 72-of-75 times. Alabama is also first in hits with 226. The Tide's pitching staff has recorded the fourth lowest SEC ERA with a 1.40 mark. Alabama is third in strikeouts with 192. (As of March 12)
INDIVIDUALLY IN THE SEC
Freshman Haylie McCleney comes in first in SEC batting average with .512, first in hits with 42 and first in runs scored with 34. The freshman is also tied for first in total bases with 64, and is fifth in stolen bases going 19-19. Junior Kaila Hunt is fourth on the list for RBI with 30 and second in doubles with nine. Kayla Braud is third in stolen bases with 22-for-23. After the fifth week, junior Jackie Traina fourth in the SEC in batters struck out with 107. (As of March 12)
TIDE RANKED NO. 4 AND NO. 6 IN WEEK FIVE POLLS
The Alabama softball team falls to No. 4 in the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 poll after dropping three of four last week. Oklahoma ascends to No. 1 becoming the first unanimous No. 1 team thus far in the season. The Tide drops to No. 6 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll giving Oklahoma No. 1 in both polls.
ALABAMA ON THE RADIO
The Alabama softball radio broadcasts will make the move to the Crimson Tide Sports Network in 2013. Chad Haynie, entering his fourth year broadcasting UA softball, will provide play-by-play coverage. The flagship station for softball in Tuscaloosa will be 99.1 WDGM. Fans can listen worldwide at 991wdgm.com or on any iPhone or Android device with the radioPup app. Links will also be available on RollTide.com.
NEXT TIME OUT
Alabama will return home for the next week to play a single game against non-conference opponent Georgia State on March 20, before taking on SEC rival Auburn on March 22-24.