Alabama Softball Jumps In Polls
Alabama was ranked fourth in the nation in both polls last week. This week the Crimson Tide received one first place vote in the ESPN/USA Softball rankings.
Oregon is number one in both polls after beating UCLA twice last week. The Bruins are third in the ESPN/UCLA poll and second in the USA Today/NFCA rankings. The Alabama team of Coach Patrick Murphy is now 35-5 overall and 14-1 in Southeastern Conference play. Bama leads the league.
Alabama started last week with a 3-0 shutout over then-number 11 South Alabama on Wednesday, scoring three runs against national ERA leader Farish Beard who had allowed only nine all season. The Tide rode the momentum into the weekend, sweeping Arkansas while outscoring the Razorbacks 24-4 over three games.
Jaclyn Traina improved her winning streak to 12-consecutive starts while Leona Lafaele was a force in the batter's box, going 6-8 over the weekend with nine RBI.
The sweep was Alabama's fourth in SEC play this season. The Crimson Tide own the number one RPI in the latest NCAA rankings for a second-straight week with a 19-3 record against teams that made last season's NCAA Tournament.
Alabama puts its winning streak on the line Wednesday night when the Crimson Tide hosts UAB (23-16) at Rhoads Stadium. First pitch is at 6 p.m. CDT. Following the home game, Bama gets back into SEC play and goes back on the road, albeit only to nearby Starkville and three games against Mississippi State (30-12 overall, 3-9 in SEC play).
Alabama is now the highest-ranked SEC team, as Tennessee fell from second to fourth in one poll, fifth in another.
The SEC boasts the most top-25 teams of any conference as eight SEC teams are ranked in both polls: Alabama (2/3), Tennessee (5/4), Kentucky (11/11), Georgia (17/13), Missouri (18/16), Auburn (21/20) and Texas A&M (22/21). LSU is still receiving votes in both polls.
Alabama defeated UAB 5-0 in Birmingham earlier this season. The Crimson Tide is undefeated all-time vs. the Blazers, a 15-0 record.
Since Alabama and UAB met on Feb. 25, the Blazers have won 20 of last 28 games, sitting in third in the latest Conference USA standings. During that stretch, they are 2-2 against ranked opponents, shutting out then-No. 18 Georgia, 8-0, on March 1 and most recently defeating then-No. 17 Tulsa last weekend, 4-2.
Sophomore Caitlin Attfield is the batting leader for UAB with a .409 average, 56 hits, and nine stolen bases. Senior sisters Kristen and Megan McGrath have provided much of the power for the Blazers, combining for 22 home runs and 52 RBI. Senior Leigh Streethman (14-9, 1.78 ERA) leads the pitching staff with 20 starts and 27 appearances, throwing 134 innings with 142 strikeouts, 39 walks, and 34 earned runs allowed.
In the earlier meeting this season, Leslie Jury pitched a complete game shutout while Haylie McCleney and Kaila Hunt each went 3-4 at the plate.
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