Alabama Softball Faces Tough Road

It's quite likely that few, if any, Alabama softball players have read "On the Road," by Jack Kerouac, the 1951 autobiography of the Beat Generation writer. But the Crimson Tide players may feel they are living that trip, if not in the same vein.

After an undefeated eight-game homestand, Alabama will have to be road warriors to close out the 2014 regular season, as 11 of its final 14 games are away from Rhoads Stadium. It begins this weekend with the Crimson Tide in Starkville (a place Kerouac would have been unlikely to have visited no matter the induced state) for a Southeastern Conference series against Mississippi State.

Coach Patrick Murphy's Bama is now 36-5 overall and 14-1 and leading the SEC and is ranked second in the nation in one poll, third in another. It's the beginning of a brutal conference finish in which Alabama plays eight-straight road games before returning home for a three-game series against No. 13 Georgia on April 24-26. And then it's back to the road to close out the regular season at Missouri.

Alabama is 8-3 this season in true road games, including six SEC contests. Alabama swept Ole Miss in Oxford and took two out of three games against the then-No. 1 Florida Gators in Gainesville.

Mississippi State is 30-13 overall, but only 3-9 in conference games.

Game one is at 5 p.m. CDT Friday, game two at 6 p.m. Saturday, and the series concludes with Sunday's game beginning at 1 p.m. Sunday's game will be televised by Fox Sports South.

Mississippi State had a seven-game winning streak snapped last weekend against Missouri, losing two out of three games, and most recently fell in a midweek contest against No. 15 South Alabama, 3-2, on Wednesday.

Freshman Carolina Seitz, a Birmingham native, has been a big spark to the offense, leading the team with a .346 average, 45 hits and 16 doubles. With seven home runs and 23 RBI, she trails senior Sam Lenahan in those categories for the team lead with eight and 34, respectively.

Redshirt senior Alison Owen (15-8, 2.05 ERA) leads the pitching staff with 180 strikeouts over 130 innings. Freshman Alexis Silkwood (8-4, 2.19 ERA) has emerged as a threat in the circle, owning an 8-4 record with 101 strikeouts in 99 innings.

Alabama holds a significant advantage in the all-time series, winning 52 of the 60 meetings between the teams. Mississippi State managed to break a streak of 21 consecutive losses by defeating Alabama last season in Tuscaloosa, 3-2, though the Tide went on to win games two and three to take the series. Prior to last season, the last time the Bulldogs beat the Tide was in 2004 .

Alabama is coming off a difficult 4-3 win over UAB. That victory pushed Alabama's winning streak to 10 games, the longest this season for the Tide.

Alabama is ranked No. 1 in the nation in RPI with its losses to Florida (No. 4), Florida State (No. 6), Arizona (No. 7) and McNeese

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