Tide Softball Ends Regular Season

It seems like a long time ago since Alabama won the 2012 Southeastern Conference regular season and SEC Tournament championships en route to the softball national championship. Although Bama was the pre-season choice to repeat as SEC winner, the Crimson Tide is now jockeying for a spot in the seeding for the tournament.

Alabama closes out regular season play this weekend with a chance to gain momentum going into the SEC tournament and to honor five seniors who are completing their Crimson Tide careers.

Bama, ranked seventh in the nation, will host Kentucky, ranked 19th, this weekend at Rhoads Stadium. Games will be at 6:30 p.m. CDT today, 2 p.m. Saturday, and 1:30 Sunday.

In the Tide's last outing at LSU, Bama was swept – losing three one-run games. That left Alabama at 12-9 in the SEC and out of any championship contention. The Tide is 40-10 overall. Kentucky is 11-10 in the conference and 36-16 overall.

The Wildcats will be hosting the SEC Tournament next week. Alabama has clinched a berth in the tournament, which will be held at John Cropp Stadium in Lexington. The Tide is in fifth place in the league, four games back of first and 1 1/2 games back of current No. 4 seed Missouri. The 7-10 seeds will open the tournament on Wednesday, May 8, while the rest of the field will begin play on Thursday, May 9.

Five Alabama seniors (Jackey Branham, Kayla Braud, Courtney Conley, Keima Davis, and Lauren Sewell) will be playing their last regular season games at Rhoads Stadium this weekend. The class has compiled 205 wins entering the weekend for an .837 winning percentage. The class has won three regular season SEC championships, two SEC tournament titles, and one national championship.

Alabama is pretty tough at home. Bama enters the weekend with a 22-4 overall record at Rhoads Stadium this season. The Tide has outscored its opponents, 220-66, while hitting .365 with 28 home runs. Alabama has stolen 64 bases in Tuscaloosa and pitches at a 1.96 ERA while holding opponents to a .201 average. Individually, Haylie McCleney is batting .500 with 35 hits and 32 runs while Kayla Braud follows with a .456 average, 36 hits, 34 runs and 19 stolen bases. Kaila Hunt leads the team with 31 home RBI while batting .420. Danielle Richard has hit the most home runs with five while driving 15 with a .360 average. Leslie Jury paces the Tide in the circle at home with a 1.48 ERA and an 8-2 record.

Tide batters will be challenged this weekend. The SEC Freshman of the week is Kentucky pitcher Kelsey Nunley, who had two wins last week over top 15 teams, No. 7 Louisville and No. 11 Missouri. She may pitch all three games for the Wildcats.

Alabama has done well against Kentucky. The teams have met 40 times with Alabama holding an impressive, 38-2, all-time advantage. The Tide is a perfect 18-0 at home against the Wildcats. Last season Alabama swept Kentucky in Lexington, earning one win in extra innings and then two by the way of run-rule. Kayla Braud batted .462 with four runs while Courtney Conley provided the punch with two home runs, four RBI and a .400 batting average. Jackie Traina earned two wins with a 1.40 ERA and struck out 21 in 15 innings.

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