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CANCELED! Alabama Softball Faces Juggernaut Texas

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The Crimson Tide invites the Longhorns, BYU and a cupcake to Tuscaloosa for the T-Town Showdown.

Jenna Johnson.

I’m going to hold my tounge on this decision, but here it is:

Finally, the Crimson Tide looked like their old selves upon run-ruling Arkansas on both Saturday and Sunday. They will need to continue that level of play if they hope for any kind of championships this season. This week, they host their third and final home tournament of the season, the “T-Town Showdown”, against a cupcake, a solid BYU team, and the behemoth that is Texas. This weekend will be the true test of whether Alabama is ready for the big dogs of the softball world.

#3 TEXAS

The Longhorns are ranked third in the nation but they just as well could easily be co-number one with UCLA and Washington having beaten both those teams this season. They have also defeated Tennessee and Michigan, while splitting with #8 Louisiana-Laf. Oddly enough, the other two losses came from Duke and Fresno. UT has ten run-rule wins and ten shutouts.

Two-time All-American pitcher Miranda Elish (11-3, 1.25 ERA) is saddled with all three of the ‘Horns defeats this season, though all were one-run losses. She has recorded 96 strikeouts and only 17 walks in 84 innings pitched. Don’t be surprised if Bama faces her twice this weekend. But it’s pick your poison because Shealyn O’Leary (6-0, 1.97 ERA) and Courtney Day (5-0, 1.00 ERA) are deadly as well.

Elish can also hit the ball. She sports a .370 batting average with 4 HR and 19 RBI. Janae Jefferson has the big stats, hitting a ridiculous .554 in the leadoff spot with 13 walks and 10 for 10 in stolen bases. However, only six of her 41 hits have been doubles, two for triples, and no home runs. Also, she tends to have less success in bigger games. Against Ole Miss, Louisiana (2 games), UCLA, Washington, and Michigan, she hit a mediocre .277 with three runs scored, one RBI, and one stolen base.

You may remember Mary Iakopo who hit a three-run dinger off Krystal Goodman in the 2019 Tuscaloosa Super Regional to force a Game 3. She is hitting “only” .361 and leads the team in RBI (25) and runs scored (20). I jokingly say “only” because Texas has six regulars with higher batting averages. Kaitlyn Washington and Lauren Burke are both over .450.

One flaw (yes, they have one) is that 3B Iakopo and SS Kaitlyn Slack have seven errors apiece. The Longhorns have 32 as a team.

BYU

The Cougars are 14-9 and played some power teams close. They lost to both Oklahoma and Oregon by identical scores of 3-1. They beat Mississippi State 6-2 and formerly ranked Texas Tech 7-5, both on neutral sites.

BYU is led by All-American candidate outfielder Rylee Jensen-McFarland who is hitting a robust .441 with 6 HR and 23 RBI in the leadoff spot. Batting third is first baseman Huntyr Ava who stands at .324, 8 HR, 28 RBI. These two could be hazardous to the Tide staff who have been giving up good deal of first inning hits and walks this season. There is a bit of a dropoff in the lineup after those two but the team does have 22 round-trippers on the season (Have I mentioned before that Bama has only 10 home runs?).

BYU doesn’t steal too many bases (15) and the fielding is sketchy (29 errors). Of the 86 runs given up by Cougars pitchers this season, only 55 have been earned.

The Cougs rely on three pitchers. Alabama will likely face Autumn Moffat (7-4, 1.80 ERA).

BRYANT

If you are like most people, you are asking who the eff is Bryant and why are they playing the big girls in softball? First off, although it would be most appropriate to name a University after Paul W. “Bear” Bryant, the school is actually named after some 19th century dude who also created the psuedo-college franchise of Bryant & Stratton. In 1967, the guy who invented Tupperware donated 428-acres in Smithfield, Rhode Island and Bryant College was created. In 2004, the name was changed to Bryant University with an eye towards being among the larger athletics departments in the the US. In 2012, Bryant became a full Division I member. The school appears to be aiming to be the next Liberty, but their teams are just plain awful in every single sport.

The softball Bulldogs are 3-10 but have only been run-ruled three times. Alabama better not expect them to just roll over. BU lost to Arizona by the slim margin of 3-1.

ACCOLADES

After posting a .778 batting average with seven hits, three RBI and three runs scored last weekend, KB Sides was named the SEC Co-Player of the Week.

For whatever reason, there are FOUR softball polls. FWIW, Alabama is ranked number 10, 11, 12, and 13.

SCHEDULE

I suppose when you are the host team, you can set up the schedule how ever you want. Thus, the Crimson Tide have the advantage of playing one game each day - no doubleheaders. The Longhorns will have to play an earlier game against Bryant before playing the Tide on both days. To whose advantage that works, we will see.

Mar 12 (Thu) 6 p.m. CT ALABAMA vs BYU
Mar 13 (Fri) 1 p.m. CT BYU vs. Bryant
Mar 13 (Fri) 3:30 p.m. CT Bryant vs. Texas
Mar 13 (Fri) 6 p.m. CT ALABAMA vs Texas
Mar 14 (Sat) 1:30 p.m. CT Texas vs. BYU
Mar 14 (Sat) 11 a.m. CT Bryant vs. BYU
Mar 14 (Sat) 4 p.m. CT ALABAMA vs Bryant - Sarah Cornell Senior Day
Mar 15 (Sun) 10:30 a.m. CT Texas vs. Bryant
Mar 15 (Sun) 1 p.m. CT ALABAMA vs. Texas

All Alabama games should be available on SECN+.

#Team24 #RollTide