Runyon Takes Hot Streak To Arkansas

When Alabama goes to Arkansas for its final regular season softball competition this weekend, the Crimson Tide will have one of the hottest hitters in the Southeastern Conference as part of the Bama arsenal.

A scorching month at the plate has helped Alabama sophomore Marisa Runyon break out as one of the top power hitters in the SEC. In conference-only games, she leads the league with 30 RBI and is tied for the league lead with nine home runs.

"Home" Runyon has heated up with the weather. In the 26 Bama games between Feb. 5 and March 21, she was 19-66 (.288) with 11 runs, 19 runs batted in, and four home runs. In the 19 games since then, Runyon has gone 25-55 (.455) with 17 runs, 44 RBI, and 10 homers. She has a hit in 14 of the last 19 games and has driven in at least one run in 15 of them.

She has three multi-homer games over those 19 games after hitting just four home runs total in the 26 games prior. Kelly Kretschman is the only other player in Tide history to hit three multi-homer games in a season (1998).

That can hardly be good news for Arkansas as the Crimson Tide – ranked fourth in the nation in one poll and sixth in the other – goes to Fayetteville for games at 6 p.m. CDT Friday, 8 p.m. Saturday (a game that will be televised on ESPNU), and 2 p.m. Sunday.

Alabama is 38-11 overall and 14-7 in SEC games and vying for one of the top four seeds for next week’s SEC Tournament. Bama is tied for third in the conference with LSU, trailing Florida at 16-4 and Auburn at 16-5. Auburn and LSU meet each other in a weekend series.

Playing the Razorbacks would seem to give the Tide a very good chance to make the top four as Arkansas is the SEC’s last place team with only one win in 21 conference games. The Hogs are 16-34 overall and got their first home win this week against Southeast Missouri. Arkansas is 1-14 in home games.

Alabama is coming off a series victory against Tennessee last weekend, taking two out of three games against the Lady Vols. The Crimson Tide has won six of its seven SEC series this season.

In SEC games this season, Alabama leads the league with a 2.14 ERA and 150 strikeouts. The Tide ace is freshman Alexis Osorio (1st, 1.63) with last week’s SEC Pitcher of the Week, senior Leslie Jury (5th, 2.56) both ranked among the top five pitchers in conference ERA. Osorio also leads the league with 101 strikeouts in SEC play. Alabama’s third pitchert, Sydney Littlejohn, has been a two-time SEC pitcher of the week following non-conference perfect game efforts.

Arkansas does have one very dangerous hitter. Senior Devon Wallace leads the team with a .365 batting average, seven home runs, and 26 RBI. This season, she broke the Arkansas career home run record with her 44th on March 19. She was also selected 20th overall in the 2015 NPF Draft by the Pennsylvania Rebellion.

Razorbacks pitching is not too good. The staff has a combined 5.50 ERA.

Alabama has an all-time record of 59-8 against the Hogs.

Next week, Alabama begins postseason play at the 2015 SEC Tournament in Baton Rouge. Four days of games start on Wednesday, May 6 and culminate on Saturday, May 9 with the championship match. For the first time, the tournament field will consist of 12 teams. The teams that finish the regular season in the top four will earn a first-round bye while seeds No. 5-12 will face each other on Wednesday. The tournament will continue in a single elimination format with four games on Thursday, two on Friday, and one on Saturday.


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