NCAA Softball Selection Committee pulled one of the biggest shockers of recent memory, tabbing Alabama as the fifth seed overall. Many observers from SEC Network personality and former Tide All-American Kayla Braud to Alabama Superfan Emily Pitek were shocked at how high the Tide was seeded. Both expected Bama down around #12.
The Committee did Bama a big favor sending some real cupcakes to Tuscaloosa. The Tide will have to battle it out with Central Arkansas, Middle Tennessee, and Long Island U. Meanwhile, other higher seeds seem to have pretty tough draws.
1-seed Oklahoma gets Mizzou and Cal.
2-seed UCLA is handed a tricky one with Liberty and San Diego State.
3-seed Florida State has two dangerous foes in UCF and SECT finalist South Carolina.
4-seed Tennessee will host Louisville and Indiana.
I’m not sure that I would trade any of those for what Bama got.
LONG ISLAND U (31-24, 14-7 NEC)
LIU did not play a single Power team this season. Their record sucks and they did not even win their regular season conference title. But the Sharks got in the NCAAT because they won the Northeast Conference Tournament on a double elimination comeback.
LIU hits .259 as a team and have had only 28 balls leave the yard. None of their three pitchers have an ERA under 3.00.
MIDDLE TENNESSEE (39-18, 13-10 C-USA)
Here again we have another team who did not play a Power team this year, unless you count sorry-ass Boston College (I don’t) who they split with. The Blue Raiders too are in for winning their conference’s Tournament.
Laura Mealer is the straw that stirs this drink. She is hitting .386 and has 10 home runs and 51 RBI. The next closest MTSU player has 34 RBI. They are hitting .296 with an adorable 26 dingers.
CENTRAL ARKANSAS (44-10, 22-2 ASUN)
The Bears are ranked #19/21/24/UNR. Only ESPN does not rank them. It is their first Regional berth since 2015. One of their big wins was an early season defeat of Utah in a tournament in Baton Rouge. However, LSU beat UCA twice in the same February tournament. The Bears beat Arkansas twice, once in early in March in Fayetteville and once in their home stadium a month later. As good as their record is, some of their losses came to the likes of South Dakota, South Dakota State, Louisiana Tech and North Alabama.
UCA won both the ASUN regular season and Tournament Championships.
Team batting average is tepid .277 with a scant 31 homers. It’s the pitching that runs this engine. UCA has the third lowest ERA in the nation at 1.36. The mighty Ursus have a solid 1-2 punch in the circle in 4th-year hurler Kayla Beaver (24-6, 1.09 ERA - eighth lowest in D1) and super senior Jordan Johnson (20-4, 1.62 ERA - 37th lowest) who have allowed only 13 round-trippers and sport an opp. BA of .198. These two have pitched every inning for Central Arkansas except for a one-third inning appearance by a position player in a blow-out win.
As you have no doubt heard by now, Montana Fouts hyperextended her knee and is considered “day to day”. It is anyone’s guess as to whether she will pitch this weekend but odds are in favor of her slinging that big yellow ball into Ally Shipman’s glove a few times.
Patrick Murphy commented that Fouts “probably wasn’t gonna start tomorrow night (Friday) anyway... You gotta be smart about this because it could end up being three, four, five games.” Even with a healthy Fouts, it doesn’t make much sense to use an ace against a team of LIU’s caliber. The likeliest starter on Friday is Alex Salter.
Regarding the other participants in this bracket, I must confess. I have not seen any of these other three teams play live. I have seen some highlights and poured over the stats. There is a chance that the Crimson Tide could fight their way through this bracket and move on to the next round even without Fouts. Alabama has scored 32 runs in their last six games for an average of 5.3 per game. They will need to continue this trend in order to reach the Super-Regional.
Other big factors for the Tide are 1) whether any of the other three pitchers can string together more than two successful consecutive innings; and 2) can Patrick Murphy keep his team’s headspace in the right place. As it has been well reported, Alabama lost to Lehigh, Kennesaw State, Liberty and Texas State this season. Much of that can be blamed on unpreparedness. But the biggest culprit is the team not taking their opponents serious enough and approaching the game with casual attitudes.
Three games are slated for Saturday. Prepare thyself for weather delays.
(All times CT.)
- GAME 1: Friday, May 19, UCA faces MTSU 3:30 p.m.
- GAME 2: Friday, May 19, Alabama vs LIU 6 p.m.
- GAME 3: Saturday, May 20, Game 1 Loser vs Game 2 Loser Noon (Loser goes home)
- GAME 4: Saturday, May 20, Game 1 Winner vs Game 2 Winner 2:30 p.m.
- GAME 5: Saturday, May 20, Game 4 Loser vs Game 3 Winner 5 p.m. (Loser goes home)
- GAME 6: Sunday, May 21, Game 4 Winner vs Game 5 Winner 1 p.m.
- GAME 6: Sunday, May 21, Game 6 Winner vs Game 6 Loser 3:30 p.m. (if necessary)
The committee likes them but apparently ESPN does not. No regular TV for the Tide. Just ESPN+ unless something changes. Bama fans get the honor of Roy Philpott calling the games. Aleshia Ocasio (former Gator) will provide color commentary.
Will Alabama win the Tuscaloosa Regional:
This poll is closed
It will be a tough road, but they will do it.