One Vs. Two In Key SEC Softball Series

If Alabama beats Georgia in softball will it prevent the Crimson Tide from getting into the NCAA Tournament at the end of the season? Okay, a little shot at the NCAA Men's Basketball Selection Committee. Both Bama and the Bulldogs figure to be in the Women's College World Series at the end of this season.

Alabama, ranked second in the nation, hosts Georgia, ranked first in the nation, in a huge Southeastern Conference softball series this weekend. Alabama is 26-1, the lone loss a 1-0 setback at the hands of nationally-ranked Louisiana-LaFayette. Georgia is 23-1.

The series begins at 6:30 p.m. CDT Friday at Bama's Rhoads Stadium. The Saturday contest will begin at 7 p.m. and will be televised live by ESPNU. Sunday's game will have first pitch at 1:30 p.m.

Alabama opened SEC play Wednesday with the Crimson Tide blasting 23rd ranked Auburn in a doubleheader. Bama took wins by 6-1 and 8-2 margins. The Tide has defeated the Tigers in 15 consecutive games.

Alabama once again faces a tough schedule as the Crimson Tide has already played 19 games against teams that participated in the 2010 NCAA tournament. The Crimson Tide sports an 18-1 record in those games in 2011. The Tide has outscored those opponents 132-25 and is hitting .307 with 29 home runs and 120 RBI. In the circle, Alabama is pitching at a 1.10 clip and holding those teams to a .159 batting average.

It has been a good week for Bama senior pitcher Kelsi Dunne. On Tuesday she was named SEC Pitcher of the Week for the previous week. On Wednesday she started the first game against Auburn needing one strikeout to hit the 1,000 mark. She got that K in the first inning with the bases loaded. Dunne fanned 13 more Tigers as she improved her record to 11-1 on the year.

Bama's other pitcher is freshman Jackie Traina, who had her 12th home run of the year and also pitched her 11th victory of the season against no losses. She struck out nine Auburn batters.

Sophomore Kayla Braud enters the weekend leading Alabama at the plate with a .537 average. Overall the sophomore paces the Tide in six offensive categories, including hits (44), runs (37), walks (16), on base percentage (.614) and stolen bases (37). The Eugene, Ore., native has also reached base in 46 straight games, dating back to the end of last season. Over the last six games, junior Cassie Reilly-Boccia is batting .500 (7-for-14) with three home runs and a team-best 12 RBI. Since her only loss on the season on March 4, senior Kelsi Dunne is 4-0 in the circle with 46 strikeouts in 26 innings. She sports a 0.27 ERA over that span while opponents are hitting a meager .106 against the right-hander.

The Bulldogs enter the weekend as the No. 1 team in the country, earning the top-ranking earlier this season for the first time in school history. The only blemish for Georgia this season is a 1-0 loss to Oklahoma State at the Cathedral Classic. As a team, the Bulldogs are hitting .338 with 38 home runs and 151 RBI. In the circle, UGA is pitching at a 1.41 clip and have struck out 172 batters in 149 innings. Opponents are hitting just .181 and have been tagged for a 7.49 ERA.

Alabama holds a 28-12 all-time series advantage over Georgia and is 14-5 against the Bulldogs at home. Alabama has never lost a home series to Georgia.

Alabama will quickly hit the road for another midweek conference doubleheader as it will head to Knoxville to face Tennessee. The two highly ranked squads will square off on Tuesday in a twin-bill that will begin at 3 p.m. CDT at Lee Stadium.

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