Crimson Tide softball is off to a roaring start once again, piling up a 24-1 record during the non-conference portion of the schedule while remaining firmly in the top five in both major polls. In fact, it's been such a good start that records are falling left and right:
The Alabama softball team is off to a hot start to the 2011 campaign and it has shown on the stat-sheet. The Crimson Tide has already smashed 50 home runs, 25 games into the season. The most ever hit by an Alabama team 25 games into the season was 36, in 2010. The Tide is hitting at a .356 clip which is also the best start at the plate, bettering the average of .345 set in 2007. The 201 RBI and 82 stolen bases is also the most through 25 games. Individually, freshman Jackie Traina is off to the best power start in school history as she has smacked 11 home runs and drove in 33 RBI. The closest ever to start a season was 10 home runs by Kelly Kretschman in 1998 and 29 RBI by Mandy Burford in 2007. Junior Cassie Reilly-Boccia enters the week with 31 RBI as well. Sophomore Kayla Braud sports a .539 average which is the best start as Brittany Rogers batted .525 in 2008. Braud has swiped 37 bases already which is the best start on the base paths in school history. Overall the 24-1 record is the second best start in school history as Alabama has started a season off 25-0 (2007 & 2001) twice.
With the hot start at the plate to start the 2011 campaign, the Crimson Tide leads the Southeastern Conference in numerous statistical categories. Offensively, the Tide leads the circuit in: slugging percentage (.663), home runs (50) and stolen bases (82). The team ranks second in batting average (.356), runs (213), RBI (201), total bases (421, walks (98) and third in on-base percentage (.457) and hits (226). In the circle, the Tide rank second in ERA (1.15), opposing batting average (.157) and lead the circuit in strikeouts (215), hits allowed (84) and home runs allowed (6).
The Tide currently sits at No. 2 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Poll and No.3 in the USA Today/NFCA Poll, and has a chance this week to make a big move in the rankings hosting both #23/24 Auburn (22-2, 3-0) in a doubleheader this afternoon and #1 Georgia over the weekend. The visiting Tigers have also gotten off to a hot start, reeling off 15 straight wins before falling to #10 Oklahoma in the Oklahoma Classic. Since then they are 7-1, earning a series sweep over Arkansas to start the conference season.
Beyond the obvious "beat Auburn" importance of today's doubleheader, today marks the start of conference play for the Crimson Tide as we begin the march toward repeating as both regular season and conference tournament champions. Thankfully, history is on our side. Alabama sports a 36-10 all-time record in SEC opening series games, has not lost a SEC opening series since 2005, and has never lost a SEC opening series at home.
Play begins this afternoon at 3:00pm CST. TV coverage of both games(!) will be provided by CSS with online streaming available at ESPN3.com, and if neither one of those is available to you there's always the radio and good 'ol Gametracker (links to both games here).