Softball Signs Point To Tide Success

The visiting teams in the Bama Bash softball tournament that begins today (Friday) at Rhoads Stadium no doubt realize that the home team is the heavy favorite. After all, Alabama won the national championship last year and is ranked first in the nation this season. Moreover, the Crimson Tide has an impressive record in Tuscaloosa, in the Bama Bash, and in tournaments period.

Alabama has been on the road for the first 11 games of the season and has 11 wins. Ten of those victories came as Bama won tournaments at Northern Iowa and at Florida Gulf Coast universities.

The Crimson Tide of Coach Patrick Murphy is making its home debut in the Bama Bash that continues through Sunday. The Crimson Tide is joined by Western Illinois (2-0), Iowa (7-3), and Winthrop (2-4) to Rhoads Stadium. Alabama will open its weekend schedule against Western Illinois today with first pitch slated at 4 p.m. CST. The tournament will start at 11 a.m., with Western Illinois facing off against Winthrop. A total of 10 games will be played in the Bama Bash this weekend.

Except for 2010, the Tide has hosted the Bama Bash every season since 1998, and done very well. Alabama has a 62-7 record in the tournament, including a 34-0 mark since 2004. The Tide has won 10 of the 11 tournaments.

But Alabama does well in all tournaments, including a 262-65 mark in all regular season tournaments. The last loss for Bama in a regular season tournament came in March, 2011. In Tuscaloosa tournaments, Alabama is 106-16 and has not lost a regular season tournament game in Rhoads Stadium since March, 2010. Bama is on a 23-game winning streak in those tournaments.

It is not unusual for Alabama to be off to a fast start. This is the ninth season in which the Tide has started the season with 10 or more consecutive wins. Bama has won 20 or more games to start the season three times, including a school record 27-0 start in 2001 and a 26-0 mark last year.

Alabama was 34-4 in Rhoads Stadium last year, one of seven seasons in which the Tide won at least 30 home games.

Alabama returns some of the top stars from last year's national championship team, including pitcher Jackie Traina, shortstop Kaila Hunt, and outfielder Kayla Braud. But Bama also lost a number of key performers. But a newcomer has been very impressive. Haylie McCleney has had an excellent start to her first college season. She is batting .615, has scored 17 runs, and is a perfect 12-12 in stolen bases, all team highs.

Hunt is providing the power. The junior has five home runs and 13 runs batted in and has an astounding slugging percentage of 1.103.

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