Alabama has had plenty of time to regroup after a disappointing Easton Bama Bash that saw the No. 4 Tide lose two games to No. 3 Michigan. The Crimson Tide have spent a week preparing for their weekend series against the fifth-ranked Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns. Winter weather cancelled Alabama's Wednesday game versus Jacksonville State and forced the Tide to reschedule Friday's series opener against the Ragin' Cajuns to Saturday, giving the Crimson Tide two extra days to prepare.
Louisiana-Lafayette and Alabama are both national powers in softball. Both teams have appeared in the NCAA Championships each year since 2000, joining seven other teams with that distinction. Alabama coach Patrick Murphy and his Louisiana counterpart, Michael Lotief, both have over 600 wins at their respective schools.
This weekend series will be the Cajuns' first games away from home on the season. Louisiana has enjoyed a great deal of early season success at home. The Ragin' Cajuns are undefeated and ride into town with bats hotter than the Cajun fare of Lafayette. Louisiana has 28 home runs through 14 games. Haylie Hayden and Shellie Landry lead the team with seven home runs a piece. The Cajuns' have a great new offensive weapon in Aleah Craighton. The freshman is hitting .489 on the season with 23 hits. Louisiana-Lafayette could give Tide aces Sydney Littlejohn and Alexis Osario a heap of trouble.
The Cajuns' compliment their excellent offense with two dominant pitchers. Seniors Jordan Wallace and Christina Hamilton are both aces in every sense of the word. Wallace started the season with a 38-1/3 scoreless innings streak that includes a no-hitter. Hamilton is an All-American and the defending Sun Belt Pitcher of the Year. Hamilton battled shoulder problems in the offseason, but she appears to be returning to form.
The Crimson Tide face a tough test this weekend, but the Tide have no shortage of talent to compete with Louisiana. Haylie McCleney, Chandler Dare and Danielle Richard are riding hot streaks into this game offensively, and Sydney Littlejohn and Alexis Osario are two of the best pitchers in the country.
The series gets started with a doubleheader Saturday at 1 p.m. The finale is Sunday at 1 p.m. All three games are available on WatchESPN, and all times are Central. While most bleacher seating is sold-out, there is still limited seating available in The Brickyard. Tickets are available online at www.rolltide.com or by calling 205-348-BAMA.