Alabama Softball Preview: Easton Bama Bash
The 10th ranked Alabama softball team continues a six-game home stand with this weekend’s Easton Bama Bash.
The Crimson Tide entertains UCF, Texas Tech and Gardner-Webb over the course of the five-game, three day tournament.
After scoring 43 runs during the season-opening Kickin’ Chicken Classic, Alabama has struggled from the plate managing 10 runs over the past five games. The struggles have been pronounced in the last two games as the offense got just three hits in Wednesday’s night’s 2-0 win over Florida while pounding out two hits in a 7-0 loss Sunday afternoon against Louisiana.
The one place to look for this weekend relative to improvement on offense is at the top of the order. Since the beginning of the ULL series, Crimson Tide leadoff batters have gone 1-12 with a walk, one run scored, one stolen base and three strikeouts. While Elissa Brown has been Alabama’s primary leadoff hitter, junior second baseman Demi Turner has led off for the Crimson Tide for two straight games.
With the exception of the two losses to the Ragin’ Cajuns, Alabama’s pitching staff has maintained their status as one of the top pitching staffs in the SEC.
Coming into the weekend, the Crimson Tide’s pitching staff has a 2.13 team ERA allowing 40 hits and fanning 95 batters while issuing 28 free passes.
Alexis Osorio and Sydney Littlejohn carried Alabama to victory Wednesday night against North Florida. Littlejohn handcuffed North Florida with 10 strikeouts compared to one walk over 5.1 innings of scoreless softball. Osorio came out of the bullpen to save her first game of the season. In the final 1.2 innings of the game, the junior right hander struck the final five UNF batters in the game.
Looking at this weekend’s Easton Bama Bash field, Texas Tech, UCF and Gardner-Webb aim for productive weekends after getting their season started in up-and-down fashion.
UCF defeated Alabama 7-1 during the UCF Invitational last season but has started 3-4 through the first two weeks of 2017. The Golden Knights lost ace pitcher Shelby Turnier due to graduation and are relying on senior Manami Calixto and freshmen Kamryn Toney and Alea White to fill Turnier’s role in the circle. White has started four games this season and has compiled a 1-3 record with a 3.38 ERA.
Texas Tech is coming off a productive trip to Mexico that saw them beat No. 21 Fresno State, along with a win over Florida Gulf Coast, a split with Cal-State Fullerton and a loss to Mississippi State. The Red Raiders bring one of the top hitters in the Big 12 in senior Devon Thomey. Thomey has a five-game hitting streak coming into the weekend along with a .476 batting average. She also has recorded two RBIs in her last two games against Fresno State and Cal-State Fullerton.
Gardner Webb brings a 5-10 record to Tuscaloosa but has won three of their last four games including a double header sweep over North Carolina Central. Kaylee Wacaster leads the Runnin’ Bulldogs with seven RBIs while Mackenzie Thompson and Ashley Wark each have two wins in the circle.
Alabama begins the Easton Bama Bash against UCF Friday at 4 PM.
College Softball around Alabama
Auburn takes a seven-game winning streak into this weekend as they host the Tiger Invitational. The Tigers will host James Madison twice along with North Dakota, Yale and UMass-Lowell. Carlee Wallace paces Auburn’s offense with 10 RBIs while pitchers Makayla Martin and Kaylee Carlson each have ERAs below 1.00.
The Troy Trojans also bring a seven-game winning streak into the weekend as they entertain Lipscomb, Southeastern Louisiana and Pittsburgh. Sophomore Becca Hartley has been the stalwart of the Trojan offense with 11 hits, 5 round trippers 12 RBIs and 13 runs scored.
UAB and Samford kickoff a huge home-opening weekend in Birmingham as they will co-host the Samford/UAB Classic where they will take on Iowa State, Indiana and Murray State. Samford will host games on Friday and Sunday while UAB will be the host team on Saturday. Samford and UAB play each other in the first of a home-and-home series Sunday from the campus of Samford University.
The Jacksonville State Gamecocks take a six-game winning streak into the weekend as they battle Southern Miss in a three-game series. The Gamecocks downed the Golden Eagles 2-0 last Saturday and are coming off a 7-1 win at Georgia Tech on Wednesday.