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Softball Opening Weekend Primer – Genesis, 2015

After a great 2014 ended in a bitter loss to the Florida Gators in the WCWS Championship, Tide Softball is ready to take the diamond tonight.

Roll Tide! Today the 2015 season begins in earnest with a quality opponent who was faced the Tide in the Tuscaloosa Regional championship game last season, losing 3-0. That score matched the previous 3-0 Alabama victory over the Jaguars roughly six weeks before. After tonight's game the team will travel the grueling trek under across Mobile Bay to Gulf Shores and the Sand Dollar Classic which should prove to be a winter-warm-up to the regular season and should give CPM a chance to stir the lineup a few times to see how things mix.

South Alabama comes into this season somewhat in flux. Gone is the two-headed pitching buzzsaw from last year with the departure of Hannah Campbell. The Jaguars are confident in their chances with Farrish Beard, however, and sound defense behind her. Beard is a USA Softball Top 25 Player of the Year finalist from last year and considered one of the talents of college softball in the circle. Catcher Alex Breeden and Chloe Rathburn return as the two top home run hitters from last year (7). I do have to give a shout out to my hometown girl (and fellow ginger), Kaitlyn Griffith returning as last year's leader in runs scored (35), doubles (14), hit by pitches (30) and on-base percentage (.434). While the Jaguars do not impress with season totals, they do impress with timely hitting, and Alabama will need to get ahead of Beard early to keep those hits from looming larger.

One thing to keep an eye on for Alabama is the batting lineup. Expectations have Haylie McCleney leading off, but after that even your humble author will be watching to see how everything slides into place.  If the team is as talented as published then it shouldn't matter which cogs are placed into the machine, only the problem in front of the machine and what the solution is (read: lineups will be dictated by matchups favorable for Bama).

Television coverage is non-existent for this game or the Sand Dollar Classic. Tickets are sold out for the South Alabama game but a few tickets remain for the classic.  Keep tuned in to RBR for reviews of the game tonight and the weekend games.

Hope for the best.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

South Alabama vs Alabama (Mobile, AL) - 6:30 p.m. CT

Sand Dollar Classic (Gulf Shores, AL)

Friday, February 6, 2015 vs. Eastern Kentucky - 3 p.m. CT, vs. Houston - 6 p.m. CT

Saturday, Feb. 7 vs. Florida Gulf Coast - 3 p.m. CT,  vs. Florida International - 6 p.m. CT

Sunday, Feb. 8 vs. McNeese - 1 p.m. CT