The Alabama softball team won’t be the crowd favorite when the Crimson Tide opens Women’s College World Series play at 6 p.m. CDT Thursday, but Bama certainly will be familiar to those spectators who regularly attend the event in Oklahoma City.
Although Alabama will have its supporters in the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium, but the Crimson Tide will be up against local favorite Oklahoma in the opening round of the tournament, which will be televised on ESPN2. The winner of Thursday’s game will play the winner of Thursday’s LSU-Michigan game at 8:30 p.m. Friday.
Although Bama has an all-time record of 9-5 against Oklahoma, the Sooners took a 2-0 win when the teams met in March in Fullerton, Calif.
Alabama has made 11 WCWS appearances in 20 seasons of softball, a total of 55 percent of its program history. The Tide is making its third consecutive showing and fifth in the last six years. Since the NCAA began the WCWS in 1982, only two other schools have qualified for a higher percentage: UCLA (76.5 percent, 26/34) and Arizona (64.7 percent, 22/34).
Bama has made more trips to the WCWS than any other Southeastern Conference team, Florida and Tennessee (neither of which made this year’s field) having made seven each. This is the third appearance for Alabama’s junior and senior classes, which equals or surpasses the totals for eight other SEC teams, including 2016 participants Georgia (3) and Auburn (2).
Coach Patrick Murphy’s Alabama team advanced to Oklahoma City by winning the Tuscaloosa Super Regional with a 2-0 record against Washington. Bama has won 9-12 Super Regionals, seven in two-game sweeps, and has won 8-9 played in Tuscaloosa.
The Tide is 86-36 (.705) all-time in NCAA Tournament competition, including a 19-8 (.704) record in Super Regionals.
Alabama goes into the WCWS with a 51-12 record. This is the Tide’s 12th 50-win season, 10th in the last 12 years.
In five games at the NCAA Tournament, Alabama pitching has allowed just four runs, three earned, over 36 innings with 52 strikeouts (1.44 K/IP). No opponent has scored more than two runs, and the Tide staff turned in two shutouts.
The Alabama offense has a .326 postseason batting average, with opponents hitting .197. Alabama also holds significant advantages in runs (21-4), hits (42-25), home runs (5-0,) and RBI (19-3).
Bama sophomore pitcher Alexis Osorio went 2-0 against Washington, allowing just one unearned run over 12 2/3 innings with 21 strikeouts. She has yet to allow an earned run in the NCAA Tournament, owning a 4-0 record over 29 1/3 innings with 49 strikeouts.
Demi Turner went 3-5 over two starts, including a pair of key RBI in Friday’s walk-off win. A bases-loaded walk in the fourth inning tied the game and an RBI single in the eighth scored the game-winning run in the 2-1 victory. In Alabama’s five NCAA Tournament games, Turner is hitting a team-leading .545 (6-11) with three runs scored, two RBI, and two stolen bases.
Reagan Dykes got the scoring started in game two of the Super Regional with a three-run home run, her first long ball since April 24 and her 12th of the year. She is now tied with former player and current pitching coach Stephanie VanBrakle for the third-most home runs by a Tide freshman and is one away from tying Jaclyn Traina for second place on that list.
All-America Haylie McCleney leads the Tide with a .441 batting average (64-145) and Leona Lafaele has a team-best 15 home runs. Bama has 57 home runs, opponents 37.