Back in March, the Crimson Tide headed to Lexington to face the upstart Wildcats and came back licking their wounds with two out of three losses. Autumn Humes was the star of that weekend, earning both wins in the series for Kentucky. Montana Fouts and Lexi Kilfoyl both got knocked around a bit including three home runs by three different Wildcats in the finale. Bama will be looking to redeem themselves on Thursday evening.
In Wednesday’s SEC Tournament opening round, Humes baffled the Georgia Bulldogs striking out 10 batters on just 87 pitches for the complete game shutout win to advance to face the Tide.
The issue for Wildcats coach Rachel Lawson is whether she is willing to throw her ace back out there against the third ranked Alabama or if she’d rather save her for bigger games down the line. My hunch is that we will see Humes in the circle at some point Thursday night. At 39-12, the #17 ‘Cats are a lock for the NCAA Tournament, but a regional hosting birth is kinda on the line.
Outside of Humes (20-6, 2.81 ERA, 153.2 innings), Grace Baalman (9-3, 4.31 ERA, 79.1 innings) and Miranda Stoddard (5-1, 3.73 ERA, 50.2 innings) have gotten the bulk of the innings. All of their ERAs have gone up since the last time these two teams faced off as Kentucky has been forced to outscore their opponents for much of the season. The ‘Cats have a few other pitchers who could make appearances.
Catcher Kayla Kowalik is hitting an eye-popping .511 with 73 runs scored, 12 HR, six triples, ten doubles, and 35 RBI. Shortstop Erin Coffel is at .361 with 16 HR, eight doubles and 53 RBI. (Hmm, I wonder if they’d be interested in transferring...) UK has seven starters hitting over .300 and four players with ten or more dingers.
As a team, Kentucky averages .332 (5th best among Power teams) and 6.92 runs per game (3rd best). They have hit 72 doubles, 17 triples, and a robust 72 round-trippers (tied for 6th most). By contrast, the Crimson Tide have only 32 doubles, 3 triples, and 29 four-baggers. The Bama team batting average is .315. UK has stolen 55 bases in 69 attempts, while Alabama is 72 of 86.
It would seem logical that the Crimson Tide starts Fouts tonight against UK. There has still been very little to no news about the availability of Kilfoyl or any of the other players who were quarantined last weekend.
Bailey Hemphill has been sitting on 58 career home runs for quite awhile now. Might she be ready to break out in the postseason?
FLA 6, MSU 2
MIZ 4, LSU 1
TENN 1, Ark 0 - Braxton Burnside did not play.