Tide Softball Hosts Mississippi State

There have been many years in various sports in which the arrival of Mississippi State on the Alabama schedule was a welcome sight. Following the Crimson Tide's Disaster in the Bayou last weekend, Bama's softball team looks to begin the recovery against the Bulldogs of Starkville.

Alabama will host Mississippi State at Rhoads Stadium for a three-game series with starting times at 6:30 p.m. CDT Friday, 4:30 Saturday, and 1:30 Sunday. Bama leads the series, 41-7.

The Crimson Tide of Coach Patrick Murphy was a near-unanimous choice as the number one team in the nation last week. LSU was not impressed. The Bengal Tigers defeated Alabama twice in extra inning games and then rubbed salt in the wound with a victory in a game in which Bama pitchers combined for a no-hitter.

Alabama is now ranked third in the nation in one poll and fifth in another. The Tide is 38-5 overall and 12-4 in Southeastern Conference games. Mississippi State is 21-21 overall, 8-8 in the league.

Alabama's comeback from the LSU debacle began with a midweek 5-2 win over Troy, completing two weeks of competition on the road for Bama.

The Crimson Tide is a perfect 17-0 at Rhoads Stadium this season. Alabama is 5-0 against ranked opponents, sweeps of then-No. 24 Auburn and then-No. 1 Georgia.

Bama and Tennessee are tied for the SEC lead at 12-4. There are 12 conference games remaining.

Alabama enters the week ranked No. 2 in the RPI. Georgia sits in the top spot in the rankings. The Crimson Tide checked in at No. 1 in the initial RPI rankings. Alabama is one of six SEC teams in the top 25 in the RPI rankings. Twelve teams that Alabama has already played in 2011 reside in the top 50 of the RPI.

The Tide has played 27 games against teams that participated in the 2010 NCAA tournament and had a 22-5 record in those games. Losses have been to No. 20 Louisiana-Lafayette (1-0, March 4), No. 6 Tennessee (4-1, March 22) and last weekend's series sweep provided by now-No. 19 LSU. At home, Alabama is 13-0 against 2010 tourney teams.

Alabama shows up in several NCAA rankings. The Tide ranks second in the NCAA in total stolen bases (102) due to Kayla Braud's nation's best 42 stolen bases. Alabama is also tied for second in home runs (72) and comes in at third in home runs per game (1.71). The Tide is fifth in total runs (309), while placing sixth in both slugging percentage (.582) and ERA (1.32). Alabama has the fourth best record in NCAA Division I softball.

In addition to stolen bases, Braud shows up as third in runs scored (51), fifth in runs per game (1.21) and ranks 18th in both batting average (.459) and on base percentage (.556). Freshman Jackie Traina's ties for 14th in home runs (13). On the verge of becoming the Alabama's all-time strikeout queen, Kelsi Dunne is third in hits allowed per seven innings (3.21), fifth in shutouts (8), 10th in strikeouts per seven innings (10.6), 11th in ERA (1.09), 12th in strikeouts (205) and tied for 14th in total wins (18).

Among SEC teams, the Tide is first in several categories: slugging percentage (.628), stolen bases (102) and tied for first in home runs (72). The team ranks second in runs scored (309), runs batted in (288) and total bases (625). In the circle, the Tide leads the circuit in ERA (1.32), opposing batting average (.166), strikeouts (371), hits allowed (158) and runs allowed (68).

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