In the final weekend of Southeastern Conference softball regular season play, there is no doubt that Florida is going to win the regular season title. The Gators are on top with a 17-4 lead, which isn’t mathematically a cinch. But Florida ends the season against the worst team in the league, Arkansas with a 1-20 SEC mark. So let’s say that’s over.
After No. 1, it’s a bit of a logjam, but, again, the schedule works better for some than others. Auburn is second in the league at 15-5 and finishes this weekend against a very poor Texas A&M squad (7-14). Tennessee third at 14-6 faces Ole Miss at 10-11.
Crammed right behind Tennessee at 14-7 are Alabama and Kentucky. The Wildcats face the next-to-worst team in the league, Mississippi State at 3-18.
The importance of seeding following this weekends games is that the top four seeds will receive a bye in the SEC Tournament at Mississippi State next weekend.
Which brings us to the difficulty the Crimson Tide team of Coach Patrick Murphy faces in maintaining or improving its seeding for the SEC Tournament. Alabama, ranked fourth in the nation, hosts No. 15 Georgia, which is 11-10 in conference play. Overall, Bama is 43-10 and the Bulldogs are 39-14.
Games at Rhoads Stadium are at 6:30 p.m. CDT Friday, 11 a.m. Saturday, and 1 p.m. Sunday.
Through 23 home games, Alabama is averaging 3,018 fans per game. If the average stays above 3,000 following the Georgia series, the Tide would be the first team in NCAA history to average over 3,000 fans per game during the regular season. Alabama has led the nation in attendance seven-straight years and has seen total attendance top the 90,000 mark in three of the last four years.
History suggests Alabama will win the series against Georgia. All-time, the Tide is 39-17 against the Bulldogs. Last week Bama took two of three games at South Carolina, the sixth time this season Alabama has won an SEC series. Alabama has won at least six of its SEC series in four of the last five years. Teams play eight league series. The Tide lost its first series of the year, at LSU, and has won all others, including taking two of three against No. 1 ranked Florida in Gainesville. Bama also has the tie-breaker with Kentucky.
It helps that the Tide has not lost back-to-back games this season; in fact, it has been 88 games, going back to March 21 of 2015, since Bama has lost back-to-back.
Alabama has had excellent pitching from Sydney Littlejohn (21-4 with 1.91 ERA) and Alexis Osorio (13-6 and 2.53). Alabama pitching has only allowed 90 walks, the lowest mark in the SEC and one of just two teams with fewer than 100 walks allowed. With 341 strikeouts, the Tide’s 3.79 K/BB ratio is the second-best in the league, only trailing Florida at 3.92.
Alabama’s defense has committed the second-fewest errors in the league, both in overall games (35) and SEC-only contests (14). The Tide has a .973 fielding percentage, both overall and in SEC play, which ranks third in the league.
The Tide’s stolen base percentage of .889 (88-99) is currently the highest mark in program history, just edging out the team’s 2013 mark of .886 (117-132). The team’s two stolen base leaders, Haylie McCleney and Chandler Dare, are a combined 37-38 this season.
McCleney leads the Tide in hitting at .437. The Bulldogs have Sydni Emanuel, who is at .469, and Cortni Emanuel, who has a team-leading 77 hits.