The Alabama softball team put a wrap on the regular season with a 45-11 overall record and a 16-8 tally in the competitive SEC. The Crimson Tide's home record was 22-4 while only 12-6 on the road. However, they were 11-1 at neutral locations which bodes well for post-season play. Unlike their baseball counterparts, they were 8-0 in midweek games.
SEC softball is following in the footsteps of college football in that the conference is by far the strongest in the nation. For decades, the sport was dominated by the Pac-10, but the SEC teams are changing that. The Pac-10 won the 24 of the first 30 College Softball World Series until the Alabama broke through for the SEC in 2012. Oklahoma won the next year with Florida taking the last two titles. Going into post-season, nine of the top 25 teams currently resides in the SEC (Vanderbilt does not field a softball team). Florida is on top with Bama standing at #4.
For opposing teams, it must feel like Haylie McCleney has been at the Capstone for an excruciatingly long time. The Morris, AL native made her stamp from the very first game of the 2013 season when she made a diving grab in shallow center that she turned into a double play and then scored the first run of the season. As you may know, she has yet to slow down.
This season, Haylie has batted .441 with a astronomical .693 on-base percentage (second best among major colleges) and 63 runs scored or 1.125 runs per game (both top four in the nation). Her slugging percentage is .638.
The senior has been an All-American all four seasons and an Academic All-American since her sophomore year. You can vote for Haylie for the Senior CLASS Award at http://www.seniorclassaward.com/vote/softball_2016.
|2013||0.465||60 - 59||185||68||86||14||4||4||41||120||0.649||32||1||10||0||0.538||3||8||30 - 31|
|2014||0.444||65 - 65||198||70||88||12||4||10||42||138||0.697||50||1||12||0||0.556||1||1||34 - 37|
|2015||0.436||63 - 63||165||69||72||14||3||8||47||116||0.703||61||4||9||0||0.588||3||0||32 - 34|
|2016||0.441||51 - 51||127||63||56||12||4||4||29||88||0.693||47||4||12||0||0.598||1||1||20 - 21|
|TOTAL||0.447||239 - 238||675||270||302||52||15||26||159||462||0.684||190||10||43||0||0.569||8||10||116 - 123|
It has been one of those seasons where there is a different hero every night. Chandler Dare (.384 batting average), and Andrea Hawkins (.370) and others have all had their shining moments during the season.
Leona Lafaele has amped up her game with a .366 BA and team-leading 13 round-trippers, 53 RBI, and 100 total bases. She has only one error while manning first base.
After an All-American freshman season in the circle, staring pitcher Alexis Osorio (14-6) has struggled, seeing her ERA go from 1.75 last year to 2.78 this year. Fortunately for the Tide, junior Sydney Littlejohn has stepped up and taken on the role of ace. Despite a 2.10 ERA, she carries a 22-5 record.
Osorio can still be dominant at times. She is fifth in the nation in strikeouts per seven innings with 10.4 and has 206 Ks on the season, good for the top 20.
Alabama averaged over 3,000 fans per game, the first team in NCAA softball history to ever do so.
"RISK IT FOR THE BISCUIT"
Head coach Patrick Murphy has always had a unique way of keeping things fun in the dugout. In an April interview, Murphy told the reporter Laura Rutledge "you gotta risk it for the biscuit". Since then, the biscuit has been a rallying cry, a mascot, and a clever promotional giveaway! (No, not Cornelius Bennett. An actual edible biscuit.)
#RiskItForTheBiscuit #biscuit #bamasb
[As far as I can tell, this phrase got it's origins in the 2009 epic film "Fired Up!"]
Up next for the Crimson Tide is the SEC Tournament in Starkville, MS. Despite a #4 national rankings and #4 RPI, the Tide finished fifth in the conference and will not enjoy the luxury of a first round bye. Sunday's loss to Georgia should be a painful reminder of what could've been a favorable #3 seed.
However truth be told, the SEC Tournament is strictly bragging rights for Bama as they will clearly be hosting a Regional and likely a Super-regional no matter their outcome of the tourney.
On Wednesday at 6:30pm CT, Alabama will face host team Mississippi State (25-30, 3-21 SEC) who is seeded twelfth. The winner faces 4-seed Auburn who the Tide has yet to face this season. The first two rounds can be seen on SEC Network with ESPNU picking up the semifinals, and ESPN airing the Championship game. And then, it's on to Regionals!