The Crimson Tide is back in a familiar position as host of a Super Regional. They welcome in the Big Ten champ Northwestern Wildcats for a best-of-three series.
Alabama is 4-2 all-time against the ‘Cats. No current Tide player has ever faced NW.
|03/04/18||Seattle, WA||L 0 - 4|
|02/08/14||Troy, AL||(5) W 16 - 0|
|04/11/10||Tuscaloosa, AL||(5) W 11 - 1|
|04/10/10||Tuscaloosa, AL||(5) W 12 - 1|
|04/29/08||Chicago, IL||(8) W 6 - 5|
|06/01/06||Oklahoma City, OK (WCWS)||L 5 - 6|
- Friday, May 26 Alabama vs Northwestern 7 p.m. CT Tuscaloosa - ESPN2
- Saturday, May 27 Alabama vs Northwestern 8 p.m. CT Tuscaloosa - ESPN
- Sunday, May 28 Alabama vs Northwestern (if necessary) TBA Tuscaloosa - TBA
Mike Couzens will handle play-by-play with the lovely and talented Kayla Braud on color commentary. (Beth “Shock Jock” Mowens, Michelle “The Mumbler” Smith, Jessica Mendoza, and the overkill of Holly Rowe get to torture Tennessee and Texas fans! Thanks goodness.)
Friday night’s prime time matchup was moved from ESPNU to ESPN2. Previously unannounced Game 2 will be on the flagship ESPN, also in prime time. It would seem that the 4-letter network is anticipating some big dramatic storyline. I wonder what it could be... If there is a Game 3, you better believe that will be on one of the biggies.
NORTHWESTERN (41-11, B1G 20-3)
The Wildcats dominated the scuffling Big Ten, winning both the regular season and the conference tournament championships. Only four B1G teams made the NCAA Tournament and the 12-seed ‘Cats were the only seeded team and only ones to advance to Supers.
NW had a rough February, losing to Mizzou, Tennessee, Clemson (twice), Oregon, and UCLA. However in that span, they defeated Texas, Notre Dame (twice), and Kentucky. Just before the B1G schedule kicked in, they barely lost to Oklahoma (2-1) in a game played in Oklahoma City. In that OKC invitational tournament, they also took two games from Auburn. Following the loss to the Sooners, Northwestern went 31-3. They were undefeated at home during the season (14-0), but 13-6 on the road and 14-5 at neutral sites. More specifically, the Wildcats have no road wins over ranked teams (0-2) with two defeats at Clemson. Among teams that made the NCAA Tournament, they have two road wins defeating unranked Louisville twice but did not play any other team in that category.
The ‘Cats are led by super-senior Danielle Williams (22-1, ERA 2.23) who gets the ball in most of the big moments. She pitched 16.1 out of 21 innings in the Evanston Regional. Lauren Boyd (8-4, 2.26) pitched the remaining innings but both pitchers struggled against Kentucky (both allowed 4 runs) and Miami-OH (2 runs each).
Like many teams, Northwestern owes a lot of their success to the Captain Trips panic of 2020 for they have several super-seniors leading the attack. Three of them are below:
C Jordyn Rudd (.327 BA, .579 SLG, 11 2B, 9 HR, 45 RBI)
OF Skylar Shellmyer (.342, 36 RUNS, 22 RBI, 20 SB)
1B Nikki Cuchran (.324, 10 2B, 4 HR, 35 RBI)
Creatively named 2B Kansas Robinson is having a fine freshman campaign at .305 with nine dingers and 26 RBI.
ALABAMA (43-19, SEC 14-10)
With Montana Fouts on the sidelines, Jaala Torrence (9-2, ERA 2.08) stepped into the spotlight and was outstanding with 18.2 innings of shutout ball in three Regional games. The real question is whether this is who she is now or whether she falls back to terra firma. The junior has had her ups and down throughout her Alabama career including a no-hitter earlier this season. Perhaps with the knowledge that Fouts would not be participating, Jaala dug down deep and became the (wo)man for the Regional. If Patrick Murphy can keep her in that mindset and not dangle the Fouts carrot out there for all to see, he may have an emerging star on his hands.
Alabama softball ace pitcher Montana Fouts, who missed the regional tourney last weekend with a knee injury, is available to pitch vs. Northwestern in super regional. UA coach Patrick Murphy not revealing his pitching plan, however. Says Fouts has continued to improve in rehab.— Chase Goodbread (@ChaseGoodbread) May 25, 2023
As she has done most of the season, Ashley Prange (.316, 43 RUNS, 16 HR, 45 RBI) has done most of the heavy lifting. Ally Shipman (.318, 15 2B, 6 HR, 32 RBI) and Bailey Dowling (.305, 11 2B, 8 HR, 48 RBI) have both come through in big moments.
Larissa Preuitt finished the regular season and SEC Tournament strong (and probably made All-SEC 2nd team because of it). However, she went back into hiding for the Regional - collecting just two singles and one run in 12 at bats. Same story for Jenna Johnson who was 0 for the weekend - not exactly the thing you want out of a leadoff hitter. Kenleigh Cahalan has hit a wall. She had one single in eight at bats last weekend. Her average has dipped to .286 after being above .300 for the most of the season.
After two weeks of just blistering the softball, this Tide team has fallen back into an offensive lull low-lighted by just two runs scored in the last two games against mid-level MTSU. Murphy will need to brush up on his sports psychology and get these young women back on track.
Alabama will ___.
win the first two and move on to the WCWS
win two of three and move on to the WCWS
lose two of three and go home sad
lose the first two and go home sad