In an SEC warm-up, the Crimson Tide (19-3) hits the road to Austin, TX for two against the top ten Longhorns.
- Friday, March 10 at Texas 4 p.m. CT
- Saturday, March 11 at Texas State 12:30 p.m. CT
- Saturday, March 11 vs Texas 6:30 p.m. CT
- Sunday, March 12 vs Wisconsin 9:30 a.m. CT - *** Don’t forget that Sun, Mar 12 at 2:00 a.m. is daylight saving time. Spring Ahead and don’t party too much Saturday night! ***
All games will be aired by the Longhorn Network. Being in the ESPN family, you may be able to stream with a proper subscription but no guarantees, #norefunds. [SIDE NOTE: The Longhorn Network will fold into the SEC Network once UT joins the conference in 2024.]
TUESDAY: BAMA 3, WMU 1
Continuing the trend from the weekend, Alabama had outstanding pitching mixed with inconsistent offense. After a weekend of getting swept at North Alabama, Western Michigan (5-8) made one last stop in the Yellowhammer State before heading back to the Rust Belt. Jaala Torrence (5-2) continued her good pitching with a perfect game through five when the Broncos’ number six hitter blasted her first home run and RBI of the season to lead off the sixth inning. Patrick Murphy left Torrence in the game to pitch to the next two batters, which she retired with a ground out and a strike out. Then, he took her with one out to get in the inning. It’s unclear why he yanked her out at that moment. She threw only 66 pitches. Montana Fouts finished off the last inning and a third for her first save of the season.
An Ashleigh Cahalan double and an Ashley Prange single in the first inning plated the first run of the game. Bailey Dowling singled her to third and Ally Shipman’s sac fly made it 2-0 Tide.
The bats went back in the freezer for a several innings until the bottom of 6th saw Emma Broadfoot earn her first double as a Tide player and pinch hitter Lauren Esman singled her in for the final run of the night.
WEDNESDAY: BAMA 2, UAB 1
More great pitching and weak bats. Lauren Esman pitched five innings yielding three hits and one unearned run in the first inning. The leadoff Blazer singled and took second on a steal attempt that caused a throwing error by catcher Marlie Giles. She then stole third and scored on a single to the pitcher. Other than that, Esman (3-0) was pretty good for her five innings of work. What does it say about this team that Patrick Murphy put Montana Fouts (S, 2) in to pitch the final two innings even though Esman had retired all but one batter (single) since the first inning? To me, it sounds like he trusts only one person in that dugout.
Bama got both their runs in the third frame on three singles and a ground out in another disappointing offensive outing against a team they should have routed. UAB (10-11) lost to Auburn 10-1 and were coming off a three-game sweep by Florida in Birmingham in which the Gators outscored them 23-1.
This game was sold out.
Historically, the Longhorns (18-2-1) are one of the stronger programs in the nation. In last year’s campaign, Texas defeated 4-seed Arkansas in Fayetteville in the Supers and made it all the way it the WCWS final before succumbing to the Oklahoma behemoth. They continue to roll this year with their losses coming to Northwestern, Virginia Tech, and a tie* with Kentucky. Speaking of that tie, UT coach Mike White made an unscrupulous move to salvage that result:
Kentucky had a drop dead time due to travel arrangements. Kentucky was up 7-4 in the bottom of the 8th. Texas was up to hit. Kentucky had recorded 2 outs and the count was 0-2 on the Texas batter. Mike White put in multiple pinch runners to stall.— AJ (@sarcastic_aj16) February 12, 2023
Texas (#9/10/11/14) is seventh in the nation in runs per game at 7.8 and have three batters in the top 44 in batting led by freshman Viviana Martinez at a robust .524. Fellow frosh Leighann Goode is at .456 with 29 runs scored and four homers. Both of these ‘Horns are tied for the team lead in RBI with 21 each and in doubles with seven apiece. Second year players Mia Scott and Ashton Maloney are both hitting over .440. Lotsa young-uns running this offense.
Fielding, however, is an issue. As good as their young hitters are, they have the majority of the errors. SS Martinez has six, OF/3B Scott has four, and OF Maloney has three of the team’s 24 boots. Fielding percentage is an undesirable .959.
UT Pitching is exceptional. The team ERA of 1.80 is top 30 in the country. Estelle Czech (5-1, 1.45), Citlaly Gutierrez (5-1, 1.75), and Mac Morgan (5-0, 1.88) share the pitching load [must be nice].
The Badgers are 10-6 but started the season with a four-game losing streak and lost six of eight. However, they have righted the ship and reeled off eight straight wins including scoring 11 and 12 runs in their last two outings.
Super senior Kayla Konwent is hitting .348 with 3 HR and 13 RBI. Fellow super Katie Keller is at .357. As a team, UW is hitting a tepid .262 with only seven dingers and scoring 4.2 RPG.
Team ERA is a solid 1.64 which is top ten in the nation. Of their four pitchers, three are upperclassmen. Hopefully, former Michigan Wolverine Lauren Esman can provide scouting reports on them.
[SIDE NOTE: UW has played all the their games on the road at this point. Prolly cuz Wisky is a frigid death hole. Their first home game will be March 28.]
The Bobcats are 16-5 but have played a pretty soft schedule. They have lost to Wichita State, Villanova, South Dakota State, New Mexico State, and Winthrop (twice).
Team batting average is a decent .291 but not a lot of pop in their game with only five round trippers on the season.
2023 Sun Belt Preseason Pitcher of the Year Jessica Mullins has hurled 63 of her team’s 142 innings (44%) this year. The junior is 9-3 with a 1.22 ERA but don’t let her W-L record fool you. In her three losses this season, she only gave up a total of four earned runs. Mullins strikes out almost one batter per inning (59 Ks, 63 inn).
Reader JPlunkett77 mentioned earlier this week in comments, that Aubrey Barnhart may have quit the team. The sophomore has appeared in four games, including starts against UCLA (Feb. 17) and Samford (Feb. 22) but has not played since that second start. She is still on the official roster and they are still recognizing her on Twitter. The most logical reason for her absence is an injury.
It seems the softball world was not impressed with the Tide’s romp through Cupcake Valley. Three polls have left the Tide where they were last week at #9/13/13. The D1Softball poll moved Bama up from 12 to 10. They also named Montana Fouts their Pitcher of the Week. The SEC also recognized Fouts for her 19.0 shutout innings across three starts. She leads the nation in strikeouts with 107.
As a team, Bama is third in the nation in Strikeout-to-Walk Ratio at 7.52. They trail only Auburn and Tennessee.
Alabama is now tied for 15th in the nation in four-baggers with 25 and 31st in HR/game at 1.14. Ashley Prange’s eight dingers are tied for sixth most. However, the Tide hits 1.23 doubles per game which ranks 108th.
We are still trying to figure out who this Team27 is. They have played really well against national powers but struggled with the cupcakes. These two games with the Longhorns might just reveal who the Tide will be the rest of the way with the SEC schedule kicking in next week.