Bar Goes Up For Alabama Softball

Whoever at the Southeastern Conference office in charge of making the softball schedule must have wanted to get the SEC race over with quickly. Or, perhaps, just get it off to a fast start.

The Alabama softball team of Coach Patrick Murphy has been as powerful as expected thus far with a 22-0 record and ranked first in the nation in one poll and second in another. But the bar gets a little higher this week.

The Crimson Tide is defending national champion, but also defending SEC regular season and tournament titles-holder. This year's pre-season polls, though, included other SEC teams as potential usurpers of the Alabama crowns, notably Florida and Tennessee.

This week Bama hosts the fourth-ranked Florida Gators at 6 p.m. CST Wednesday at Rhoads Stadium. Although this game will not count in SEC standings, it will serve as a barometer of sorts for Alabama. This weekend the Tide heads to Knoxville for the start of SEC competition. Bama will play three games against the seventh-ranked Tennessee Volunteers. Alabama faces off against the Vols at 6:30 p.m. EST (5:30 central time) Friday, 2:30/1:30 Saturday, and 1:30/12:30 Sunday.

Alabama went 6-0 last week, including four wins in the Easton Classic, claiming the 13th consecutive tournament championship for the Tide. Alabama outscored its opponents, 55-9, hit .372 and sported a 0.39 ERA. Opponents hit only .131 and pitched at a 9.09 clip.

Sophomore Danielle Richard took full advantage of her increased playing time, leading the Tide with a .643 average, two home runs and nine hits en route to being named the Easton Classic MVP. Junior All-America Kaila Hunt hit .571, scored six runs and had a team-high nine RBI.

Freshman Andrea Hawkins batted .556 and stole three bases.

Junior All-America Jackie Traina hit .500 with two home runs and had seven RBI. Traina also went 2-0 in the circle with a perfect 0.00 ERA and struck out 18 in 14 innings. Sophomore Leslie Jury also went 2-0 with an unblemished ERA and fanned nine in 11 innings of work.

Alabama nominated Richard for SEC Player of the Week and Hawkins for SEC Freshman of the Week.

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