Alabama (48-11) is the second seed in the NCAA Tournament bracket and is hosting the Super Regional against Nebraska beginning Thursday. While the Cornhuskers were not seeded going into the tournament, the 44-16 record and win over Missouri to get to Tuscaloosa was impressive.
The Crimson Tide and Nebraska will begin play at 8 p.m. CDT Thursday at Rhoads Stadium with the winner punching a ticket to Oklahoma City and the Women's College World Series, where eight teams will play for the national championship.
The two-of-three series will have a second game at 5 p.m. Friday. If necessary, the third game will follow at 8 p.m. Friday. ESPN will televise the first game and the "if necesaary" third game. The early Friday game will be televised by ESPNU.
Alabama earned its 10th straight appearance in a Super Regional round at the regional in Tuscaloosa last weekend.
The Tide of Coach Patrick Murphy is the only school in the country to advance to the Super Regional round every year since the round's inception in 2005. This season marks the seventh time Bama will host a Super Regional. Alabama is 11-3 overall in Super Regional games in Tuscaloosa and has only lost one Super Regional round at home.
Nebraska is the second Big Ten opponent Alabama will face in the Super Regional round, having previously defeated Michigan in two games in 2012. Nebraska will be the seventh ranked opponent Alabama has faced in the Super Regional.
Only twice over ten years has an Alabama Super Regional been decided in three games.
Alabama's Super Regional victory over Michigan in 2012 led to Bama going on to win the national championship. That is the only softball national championship won by aan SEC team. Last year the Tide was knocked out in the Super Regional at Tennessee.
Alabama has made 16-straight NCAA Tournament appearances, making the Tide one of just 10 teams with an active appearance streak of at least 16 years. Bama has made eight Women's College World Series appearances: 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2012.
Alabama is 70-34 all-time in the NCAA Tournament.
Alabama and Nebraska have only met twice in program history, with the Huskers winning the first contest and the Tide evening the series in the most recent meeting. The two teams first met on Feb. 24, 2002 at the NFCA Leadoff Classic in Columbus, Ga. There, the ninth-ranked Huskers edged out Alabama, 3-2. The teams would meet again at the same tournament eight years later on Feb. 27, 2010. There, Alabama put on an offensive showcase, defeating Nebraska 11-3 in six innings with home runs by Charlotte Morgan, Amanda Locke, and Jennifer Fenton.
The WCWS begins May 29 with a format that is double elimination until only two teams remain. Those teams play at best-of-three series beginning June 2.
Although Alabama vs. Nebraska has a thin history, Crimson Tide Coach Patrick Murphy has plenty of history with the Cornhuskers' coaching staff. Murphy said, "It is more difficult in a situation like this because I wish we didn't have to play them. I respect all of their coaches – they are great people. I worked with (associate head coach) Lori Sippel with team Canada in 2005 and 2006. She was the head coach and I was the assistant. She is an awesome lady. Diane Miller, their second assistant, took over for me when I was the head coach at Northwest Missouri. I know she knows her hitting. (Nebraska head coach) Rhonda Revelle I have known for years and years. I was the NFCA president for two years and she took over for me. So now I am the past president and she is the current president and we have been in board meetings for four years together."
Bama's Ryan Iamurri said, "We know that their pitcher-catcher duo is very good. They are twins and that chemistry alone is a great tool they have. Anyone who can go into Missouri's house and can beat them on their field in front of their crowd is someone to be considerate of. We know they can hit and we know that they have two great pitchers."
Iamurri is pleased to be playing the Super Regional in Rhoads Stadium. She said, "Getting to play one more weekend at home is a privilege for me and the other four seniors. The crowd has been there from day one. That is one of the huge selling features for Alabama. When you come in, there are thousands of people who have your back. If someone raises their hand, the whole crowd will stand up. If [pitching coach Stephanie Van Brakle] doesn't like a call, the whole crowd has her back. I have played two super regionals at home and one away. The difference is incredible. When we play at home it is a whole different ball game. It should be sold out both days. We need our fans for sure. I never want to play a super regional away again. It is very important to be a top eight seed for that reason."
Nebraska Coach Rhonda Revell said, "We are thrilled to be here – there is such great softball tradition here. Alabama is such a storied program. The fans are outstanding. It is a really rich softball community. We have felt extremely welcomed. It reminds me of what I have experienced for 22 years at Nebraska; we are all about the Huskers when you play at home but you also are very respectful and courteous and treat the guest politely."