Is it time to start panicking? Patrick Murphy says “no”. He is right that it is a long season. However with the Crimson Tide entering their 26th game of the season, they probably should have ironed out most of their issues by now. Three errors in a pressure-filled game at the halfway mark of the season is a bit alarming. The baffling lack of power is also worrisome.
The Crimson Tide (22-3) will host the dangerous Wildcats at the Rhoads House. The weather should be nice.
- Friday, March 18 vs Kentucky 6 p.m. CT
- Saturday, March 19 vs Kentucky 2 p.m. CT
- Sunday, March 20 vs Kentucky 1:30 p.m. CT
HOW TO WATCH... ALLEGEDLY
Alabama basketball versus Notre Dame begins this afternoon at 3:15pm CT and airs on TNT. It should be over by the time Game 1 of softball begins. Win and the hoopsters play again on Sunday, most likely in the evening since they are on the west coast. All softball games should be available on ESPN+/SECN+.
You may recall, it was about this time last year when the Tide traveled to Lexington feeling real good about themselves and came home saddled with their second and third losses of the season. However, Alabama beat them in the first game of the SEC Softball Tournament and twice in the Super-Regional. The ‘Cats will be motivated.
No. 11/13/14 Kentucky (19-3) again has a solid team who on any given day can go toe-to-toe with the best of them. Their losses have been to No. 5 Virginia Tech in a game played in Florida, No. 19 Michigan who they beat the next day, and a game at Miami-OH who we saw can be tough. Significant wins include No. 16 Arizona and the aforementioned Michigan. To be honest, UK has played a cream puff schedule thus far. These games are their first in the SEC this season.
These Wildcats are free-swingers and they can hit. They lead the SEC and are third in the nation behind Oklahoma and Arizona with a team batting average of .376.
All-American catcher Kayla Kowalik is back and already having an amazing season. As the leadoff hitter, she is hitting .486 and has scored 25 runs. Right behind her in the lineup are super-senior Lauren Johnson (.457, 25 runs, 2 HR, 19 RBI) and All-American Erin Coffel (.448, 13 runs, 7 HR, 29 RBI) who could be in the running as SEC POY. Kennedy Sullivan is a pitcher and designated hitter is at .375, 4 HR, 16 RBI. All starters other than Miranda Stoddard, who plays third base when not pitching, are hitting over .300. Ten different Wildcats have gone yard at least once.
On the other side of the coin...
Kentucky has used seven different pitchers in this year’s campaign (can you imagine?). Knowing coach Rachel Lawson, we could see any or all of these pitchers this weekend. Miranda Stoddard’s ERA is 2.58 but she is still the ace of this staff with a 5-1 record.
Alexia Lacatena has been the breakout star. The freshman pitched for Italy in the 2020 Olympics. She is 5-0 1.68 ERA. Dothan native Stephanie Schoonover (3-1, 3.46 ERA) has struggled a bit in her second campaign but has the second most innings pitched. Senior Kennedy Sullivan (2-1, 2.91) is another pitcher UK relies on.
UK scores a lot of runs but they sure give up a good deal as well. It is probably a product of having some of these player pitch, bat, and play the field. That can be a difficult combination to handle at this level and definitely wear on a person over a season.
The Wildcats have a .956 fielding percentage which is only a few ticks better than league worst South Carolina. Stoddard has a team-high six errors. Shortstop Coffel has four.