Stuart McNair

Alabama and Washington begin NCAA Softball Super Regional play Friday

Alabama and Washington play best two-of-three to advance to Women’s College World Series

Familiarity got a bad rap from Aesop, who claimed it “breeds contempt,” but one suspects Alabama Softball Coach Patrick Murphy is quite comfortable with his Crimson Tide being in the familiar confines of Rhoads Stadium. Bama also is familiar with the NCAA Super Regional format since Alabama is the only team to advance to that round of play since it was introduced in 2005.

Sixth seed Alabama (49-12) will host No. 11 seed Washington (39-13) in the first game of the best-two-of-three series at 8 p.m. CDT Friday (ESPN2). The second game will be at 4:30 Saturday (ESPN) and the third, if necessary, will start at 7:30 p.m. Saturday (ESPN2).

This is the ninth Super Regional round held in Tuscaloosa, with Alabama winning seven of the previous eight home Super Regional contests. Over those eight series, Alabama has outscored its opponents 102-45.

The eight Super Regional winners will head to Oklahoma City next week for the 2016 Women’s College World Series. Games at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium begin on Thursday, June 2.

The Tide is 3-4 all-time against the Huskies, most recently winning two games at the 2015 NCAA Regional. This will be the second Super Regional matchup between the two teams. The Tide previously traveled to Seattle for the 2007 Super Regional, falling in two games.

With three wins last weekend, Alabama extended its NCAA Regional win streak to 31. Alabama’s last loss in Regional play came in game one of the 2007 round. In last week’s Regional in Tuscaloosa, Tide pitchers allowed just one run and struck out 30 in 21 innings, while Bama had 14 runs on 27 hits (including five doubles, two triples, and four home runs) and only five strikeouts.

Haylie McCleney led the Tide at NCAA Regionals with a .625 average, five hits and six runs scored, reaching base safely in seven of her 10 plate appearances. Four of her five hits went for extra bases, including a two-run home run vs. Samford, giving her 12 total bases and a 1.500 slugging percentage.

Sophomore Alexis Osorio, who may have supplanted senior Sydney Littlejohn as Bama’s top pitcher for tournament play, went 2-0 with a save in three appearances. She threw 16 2/3 shutout innings with 28 strikeouts. She has now gone 19 innings without allowing a run, tying her career-best scoreless streak.

Demi Turner hit .500 with three hits in six at-bats, scoring twice. Her at-bat in the fourth inning vs. Samford on Friday was her first since suffering an arm injury vs. LSU on March 12. She earned her first start since the injury in Sunday’s Regional title game vs. Cal, going 2-3.

Washington is led at the plate by Trysten Melhart with a .386 batting average, Taylor Van Zee with 62 hits, and Ali Aguilar with 21 home runs. Taran Alvelo leads in wins (18) and strikeouts (15), but the leader in earned run average and in name is the Huskies’ Casey Stangel.

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