Tough Assignment

The Alabama softball team will look to get back on the winning track this weekend as the team travels to Columbus, Georgia, for the prestigious NFCA Leadoff Classic.

Seventh-ranked Alabama (9-2), which comes into the tournament after a 3-2 loss to Southern Miss on Wednesday, will match-up against defending national champion and fifth ranked Michigan, Georgia Tech and Hofstra in pool play today and Saturday.

This year's Leadoff tournament features a 24-team field, 12 of which are ranked including five other Top 15 teams (Tennessee-2nd, Michigan-5th, Northwestern-12th, Georgia-13th, and Lafayette-14th).

The Crimson Tide will open pool play on Friday with the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at 12:00 p.m. ET, followed by a match up against the Wolverines immediately afterward. Saturday action will feature Alabama against Hofstra at 10:00 a.m. ET to close out pool play after which tournament play will begin.

Bama's match-up against Georgia Tech will be a small reunion as current Yellow Jacket pitching coach Brandon Duncan served as a manager for the Tide program for four years.

The Tide has an interesting history with all three teams in its pool. The last time Alabama and Georgia Tech got together (2004), double no-hitters were thrown, but Alabama lost the game in the international tie-breaker. Alabama and Hofstra met for the first time last season as the Tide defeated the Pride in the NCAA Region 12 Championship game en route to the 2005 College World Series. The Wolverines defeated Alabama in the 2003 NCAA Regional tournament in Tuscaloosa the last time they met one another.

Over the years at the NFCA Leadoff Classic, the Crimson Tide has run up the highest winning percentage in tournament history at a clip of .783 (18-5). Bama has twice gone undefeated in the tournament (4-0, 2001 and 3-0, 2003) but both times rain cut the weekend short. In 2002 the Tide lost in the championship game to the Nebraska Cornhuskers, 3-2.

Alabama has recorded an 11-3 record over ranked schools in the Leadoff Classic. Perhaps Bama's most memorable game in the tournament came in 2003. The Crimson Tide trailed the 23rd ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish 4-0 heading into the seventh inning before Bama struck for seven runs in the top of the seventh to claim the win.

In that same tournament Alabama and UMass tied for being the only two undefeated teams, however the Minutewomen were awarded the championship based on allowing one less run over the course of the three games.

The Crimson Tide is no stranger to the South Commons Complex in Columbus. Alabama participated in the SEC Tournament which was held there from 1997-2000 and won the conference tournament there in 1998. Bama has recorded a 25-12 all-time record there, 18-5 in the Leadoff Classic and 7-7 in the SEC Tournament.

First pitch between Alabama and Georgia Tech is scheduled for 12:00 p.m. ET. Fans can follow all the action on WVUA 90.7 FM. Audio and live stats can also be found at www.rolltide.com .


BamaMag Top Stories