Across the Diamond: Alabama Softball Opens SEC Play at Auburn
While students across the University of Alabama campus enjoy their spring break vacation, Alabama softball is gearing up for the start of SEC play Friday evening.
After using their conference bye-weekend last week, the Crimson Tide heads to Auburn for the first of eight straight weekends against SEC competition.
Alabama’s Mid-Week Win at Georgia Tech
Prior to their weekend clash against Auburn, Alabama dropped in on Atlanta for a rare visit to Georgia Tech.
The Crimson Tide slipped past the Yellow Jackets 3-1 thanks to the efforts of freshman Madison Preston.
The Centrailia Missouri native allowed one run, five hits and a walk while fanning five batters in 6.1 innings pitched. Senior Alexis Osorio recorded her fourth save of the season by striking out the final two batters of the game.
Although the offense struggled for most of the game, Alabama got two big round trippers to secure the win. Junior catcher Reagan Dykes launched a two-run homer over the scoreboard in left field in the second inning while sophomore Bailey Hemphill sent a cannon shot over the center field wall in the top of the seventh inning to conclude the scoring.
SEC Tone Setter at Auburn
In the SEC’s opening weekend, Georgia, Florida, LSU, Tennessee and Texas A&M each swept weekend series against conference teams. On the flip side, Auburn was one of five teams to lose all three of their games in league play. Alabama along with Mississippi State and South Carolina have yet to play an SEC game.
While Patrick Murphy’s squad has winnable series against Ole Miss and Kentucky over the next two weeks, four of the top teams in the SEC in Florida, Tennessee, Georgia and Texas A&M loom over the horizon on Alabama’s league slate.
By getting 0-3 at LSU last week, Auburn faces a critical stretch of games over the next three weekends. In addition to Alabama, Auburn will host Kentucky in back-to-back conference series as part of a critical seven-game home stand. The Tigers also go to Ole Miss on Easter weekend before facing Tennessee April 6-8.
Auburn Scouting Report
Auburn softball had one of the roughest off-seasons of any college softball program in the country with the resignation of head coach Clint Myers and accusations toward his son Corey Myers of an inappropriate relationships with players.
After the departure of Clint Myers, James Madison’s Mickey Dean took over the reins of the Auburn softball program and has led the Tigers to 25-5 start to the season.
Although the Tigers have gained a reputation for hitting the long ball, pitching has been a primary strength in 2018.
Auburn’s staff has recorded 17 shutouts on the year and is led by one of the SEC’s top pitchers in the circle.
Senior Kaylee Carlson leads the Auburn pitching staff with a 12-0 record along with a 0.57 ERA. The North Carolina transfer recorded a school record and SEC best 27 wins last season. Alongside Carlson, junior Makayla Martin has turned in a rock solid start to the 2018 season with a 9-3 record and a 1.21 ERA.
Offensively, senior outfielder Victoria Draper is enjoying a career year with a .494 batting average and is leading the country with 31 stolen bases.
Alabama will appear at least once in nearly all of their weekends in SEC play including their trip to Auburn.
ESPNU will televise Saturday’s game at 7 PM while the SEC Network will carry the contest at 5 PM.
The Tide and Tigers get the series started Friday at 6 PM.
College Softball Tidbits around Alabama
After losing two of three games to Georgia Southern, Troy embarks on a seven-game road trip including their first Sun Belt Conference road series at Louisiana-Monroe. The Trojans began the road trip Thursday by splitting a doubleheader at Southern Miss winning game one 8-5 but losing 6-5 in game two.
South Alabama won their fourth consecutive game thanks to an 8-0 win in six innings over Western Kentucky. Senior Devin Brown tossed a complete game victory striking out 10 batters while surrendering four hits. The Jaguars look to remain perfect in conference play as they hit the road for three games at Georgia Southern.
Jacksonville State and Samford have one more weekend before opening conference play. After a near miss against Alabama, Samford lost 11-1 in five innings to Mississippi State Tuesday evening. Mandy Burford’s squad heads to Nashville to play Belmont, Tennessee State, Rhode Island and Saint Bonaventure in the Belmont/Tennessee State Invitational.
Jacksonville State handled Alabama State 17-1 in five inning Tuesday. The Gamecocks head to the Charleston Invitational as they will face Georgetown twice along with Texas and College of Charleston.