The preliminaries are over. Alabama softball will have non-conference games going forward, but now the weekends become almost exclusively about Southeastern Conference play. And with most teams in the league ranked among the best in the nation that means the competition picks up.
For Alabama, that means a battle of top four teams. Or perhaps top six. That’s because in one poll the Crimson Tide of Coach Pat Murphy is ranked fourth in the nation and LSU is rated sixth. In the other, the Tigers are fourth and Bama sixth.
Both teams have records of 21-2 after the Tide defeated Samford by 10-0 Tuesday night.
The Tide opens league play in Baton Rouge. Game one will be at 6 p.m. CST Friday. Games two and three will be aired on the SEC Network, beginning at 5 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.
(Don’t forget that Daylight Savings Time begins Sunday, so set clocks forward an hour!)
If DST had begun during Alabama’s game against Samford at Rhoads Stadium Tuesday night it would have taken almost no time. As it was, it took the Crimson Tide only 90 minutes to earn the run-rule win over the Bulldogs.
Alabama was hitless until the third inning but then went on to score four runs that inning and six in the fourth to take a 10-run lead.
Five of Alabama’s nine hits were extra-base hits, including a three-run triple by Demi Turner. Andrea Hawkins went 2-2 with two RBIs and two runs scored batting ninth, raising her season average to .471.
Sydney Littlejohn (8-2) earned her eighth victory, throwing a complete-game shutout with just four hits and one walk allowed. Bulldog starter Mollie Hanson (7-3) took the loss, exiting after 3 2/3 innings with all 10 runs being credited to her.
Chandler Dare started the Bama third inning with a leadoff single. An RBI double by Merris Schroder put Alabama on the board and she advanced to third on a fielding error. An RBI single by Hawkins, a sacrifice fly by Peyton Grantham, and an RBI double by Leona Lafaele stretched the lead to 4-0.
In the fourth, Reagan Dykes started the inning with a leadoff double and later came around to score on an RBI single by Hawkins to make it 5-0. Later with the bases loaded, Turner roped a triple over the left fielder’s head to score three and swell the lead to 8-0. A two-run double later in the inning by Marisa Runyon pushed the lead to double digits.