Alabama Softball Hosts Ole Miss

The Alabama softball team came home from its two-game trek to Oregon with more than just the sniffles and frizzy hair. True, the Northwest had stereotypical rainy weather, so much so that one Crimson Tide game was cancelled because the wet made conditions too dangerous in which to play.

But Alabama also came home with its record still perfect at 22-0; it's number one national ranking for the third consecutive week; and a key win over a nationally ranked team.

Alabama is now home for some important Southeastern Conference games. Before heading North and West this week, the Tide took care of Kentucky in three games in Lexington to get off to a 3-0 start in SEC play. Beginning late Friday afternoon, Bama will host Ole Miss the start of a three-game series. The Tide will play at 6:30 p.m. CDT Friday, 5 p.m. Saturday (with television coverage by ESPNU), and finish up on Sunday with first pitch at 1:30.

Alabama went on the road and earned a key win over a highly ranked Oregon squad. The Ducks entered the contest ranked No. 14 in the country but the top-ranked Tide proved to be too much as it downed Oregon, 5-1, on Tuesday night in Eugene. Sophomore pitcher Jackie Traina allowed one unearned run on three hits while striking out 10 to improve to a perfect 13-0 on the season. Senior Cassie Reilly-Boccia hit her fourth home run on the season and junior Kayla Braud smacked a double, walked and scored a run in her homecoming game.

Alabama's scheduled game against Portland State got started, but with constant rain the field conditions became too dangerous to continue and the game was cancelled with Alabama leading 6-3 after two innings.

The Tide is number one in the Coaches Poll. Bama has been number one at some point in five of the past six seasons.

The Alabama squad of Coach Patrick Murphy wants to continue its fast start. This is the third time Bama has started the season with at least 20 consecutive wins. Alabama set a school record with a 27-0 start in 2001. UA started 25-0 in 2007. Last year the Tide raced out to a 17-0 start.

Alabama put together one of its most successful seasons in front of the home faithful in 2011, posting a 25-1 record at Rhoads Stadium, with the only loss coming in the first game of the Super Regional against Stanford. UA has won 25 or more games at Rhoads Stadium, 11 times and 30 or more six times. The Tide finished 31-1 in 2009 and put together its most wins in 2007 with a 39-3 record. Overall Alabama has posted a 350-52 record at Rhoads Stadium and a 405-72 record in Tuscaloosa. So far this season Alabama is a perfect 10-0 at the friendly confines.

In the last five games Cassie Reilly-Boccia has sparked the Alabama offense. The Yorktown Heights, N.Y., native is hitting .500 (7-for-14) over that stretch with two home runs and six RBI. The senior has also scored four runs while slugging 1.000. Also over the last five games Jackie Traina is a perfect 3-0 in three starts with a 0.95 ERA. The right-hander has allowed 15 hits and struck out 31 over the last 22 innings pitched.

Alabama has one of the most experienced squads in the country. The Crimson Tide boasts six seniors that have combined to play in 1026 games and start 808 times. Five of the six seniors have started more than 100 games in their careers. Reilly-Boccia leads the senior class with 211 games played and 199 starts.

Reilly-Boccia is climbing up the career record charts. She ranks third all-time in walk with 149. Kelly Kretschman holds the UA record with 161 free passes. Despite being just a junior, Kayla Braud is also ascending up the charts. Braud has swiped 123 career bases to rank third all time. Brittany Rogers holds the mark with 198 stolen bases. Senior Jennifer Fenton checks in at fifth all-time with 100 stolen bases. Senior Amanda Locke is powering her way into the home run record book as she ranks fourth all-time with 41 career home runs. Kretschman holds the record with 60 career roundtrippers.

The Rebels enter Tuscaloosa with a 13-9 overall record and a 2-0 conference mark. Mississippi has won five of its last seven games, with the two losses coming against No. 10 Stanford in Palo Alto, Calif. UM opened SEC play with 13-0 victory and a 7-6 extra inning win on the road against Arkansas in a midweek doubleheader. As a team, the Rebels are hitting .329 with 13 home runs and 120 RBI. Mississippi has outscored its opponents 135-102. UM pitchers have a combined 4.06 ERA and have held opposing batters to a .292 average. Individually Corrine Doornberg leads the team with a .444 (28-for-63) average and 21 runs scored. Londen Ladner has supplied the punch with a team-high five home runs and 24 RBI while hitting at a .404 clip. In the circle, Kendall Bruning leads the team with a 2.30 ERA and 67 strikeouts in 85 1/3 innings pitched. First year head coach Windy Thees takes over the program after leading Memphis to the Tuscaloosa Regional last season.

Alabama and Mississippi have met 50 times with the Tide dominating the series with a 48-2 all-time record. Alabama has won 20 straight against Mississippi with the last loss coming by the score of 3-0 in Tuscaloosa on April 2, 2005. UA holds a 22-1 mark at home against UM. Last season the Tide blitzed the Rebels, outscoring the western division foe, 36-2, in the final regular season series for both teams. Senior Amanda Locke has owned the Rebels over the course of her career, hitting .462 (12-for-26) with two home runs and 14 RBI. Last season Locke was named the SEC Player of the Week for her play in the series.

Alabama will remain at home for SEC play as it will host No. 9 Tennessee in a midweek doubleheader. The two conference rivals will meet in a twin-bill on Wednesday with both games set to air on CSS. First pitch of the first game is scheduled for 4 p.m.

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