The Crimson Tide (33-6, 10-5) passed a pretty big test in Gainesville last weekend. But the celebration is over. This is no time to get complacent as Alabama hosts the surprising and dangerous Mississippi State Bulldogs (26-14, 7-5).
The SEC POW awards were probably already decided before Bailey Dowling slugged two home runs Monday night. Thus, no kudos from the home office this week.
Back in the top 3 in this week's national rankings#Team26 #RollTide pic.twitter.com/wUj3OffNqt— Alabama Softball (@AlabamaSB) April 12, 2022
I honestly did not see this coming. Only the Gasso Joyless Murderball is ranked higher.
Bama has a different kind of series that runs Thu-Fri-Sat. Like the last two weekends, the scheduling probably came at the behest of the 4-letter network to give them Thursday night programming.
- Thursday, April 14 vs. Mississippi State 5 p.m. CT - SECN
- Friday, April 15 vs. Mississippi State 6 p.m. CT - streaming only
- Saturday, April 16 vs. Mississippi State 4 p.m. CT - SECN
HOW TO WATCH... ALLEGEDLY
Alabama-MSU is the only SEC softball game on cable TV on Thursday. UGA-Mizz is the only Friday game on TV. Saturday, it’s back to TV for the Tide and Bullies. That is as long as some network idiot doesn’t switch programming on us.
Sunday's game between @AlabamaSB and @GatorsSB brought in more viewers than the "KayRod" Sunday Night Baseball alternate broadcast that the softball game was preempted for.https://t.co/YEq8AGnVnn— ExtraInningSoftball (@ExtraInningSB) April 13, 2022
The Bullies have one of the tougher SEC schedules and have not been swept in their four series to date (Fla, OM, Tenn, Miz). They just took two of three against #23/25 Missouri. This is not a team to take lightly.
MSU is coached by former Oklahoma All-American Samantha Ricketts now in her third season in StarkVegas.
Mia Davidson is the big bopper on this team. She leads the team in hitting (.400), doubles (9), home runs (16), and runs scored (37). She is second on MSU with 32 RBI. She has also been hit by a crazy-high 15 pitches. Paige Cook (.353, 7 HR) is the top RBI producer with 34. She is also MSU’s best two-out hitter with a .469 average in such situations and a team-leading 16 two-out RBIs. She has team-leading 11 multi-RBI games. In 102 at bats, Cook has whiffed only five times.
Matalasi Faapito average is .258 but is a clutch-hitter with eight doubles, ten round-trippers and 31 runners driven in. Chloe Malau’ulu is hitting .369 and is second on the team in runs scored at 36.
MSU has 57 doubles (third most in the SEC) and 57 home runs (fifth most). They are the lowest in the conference in strikeouts with 145.
The Bulldogs have attempted only 20 stolen bases and been successful on 14 of them. The next lowest in the SEC is Arkansas who doubles them up at 30-37. Yet, they are fifth lowest in grounding into double plays.
Here we go again... Mississippi State has SIX pitchers, all of whom have started multiple games. MSU leans mostly on Kenley Hawk (11-3, 2.25 ERA) and Annie Willis (4-3, 2.56 ERA). Aspen Wesley (5-5 3.24 ERA) also gets plenty of innings and we could see three different starters against the Tide.
Dogs pitchers have only six complete games because Ricketts is quick to the bullpen. Bama could just as easily see Matalasi Faapito (4-0, 2.12 ERA) and the only lefty Grace Fagan (2-1, 4.07 ERA).
Clanga-clang is not just the sound of the MSU cowbells. It is also the sound softballs make when they hit their gloves. The Bulldogs have 53 errors on the season. Let me say that again: 53 errors on the season. That is 13 more than Alabama and Florida have combined (20 each). Their fielding percentage is a paltry .951 which is worst in the conference.
Thirteen different Bullies have committed an error this season. It’s a good thing she can hit because Cook has 11 of those boots while patrolling third base. Shortstop Madisyn Kennedy has nine E’s of her own. The team has turned only five double plays.
A quick turnaround might be advantageous for the hot-hitting Bama offense. The pitching on the other hand is worrisome. Patrick Murphy might be overworking his two aces Montana Fouts and Lexi Kilfoyl. It’s times like this that Alabama could use someone like Sarah Cornell or Krystal Goodman.
Alabama is currently secure in the No. 4 or 5 range for now. However, it is vital that they not drop out of the top eight which loses an opportunity for hosting a Regional and Super-Regional. It might sound a bit demanding, but this is a must-sweep series for the Tide. Winning two of three or worse at home to an unranked MSU could be damaging.