For the first time in school history Alabama will be playing as the number team in the country this weekend when the Tide heads to Knoxville for a three-game series with now number two Tennessee. The Crimson Tide and Lady Vols are tied for first in the SEC with a 21-4 record heading into the final weekend of the regular season. Alabama is 50-4 and is on a 17-game winning streak after sweeping Kentucky this past weekend. Tennessee saw a 26-game winning streak come to an end at LSU over the weekend when they lost the final two games of a three-game set.
Ben Blevins of The University of Alabama's media relations office provided the following notes on Crimson Tide softball and the upcoming series at Tennessee:
The Lady Vols were ranked No. 1 in the country for the past 11 weeks before Alabama took the top spot. UT has the top record in the country at 51-4. They lead the nation in both ERA and fielding pct. They are led by senior pitcher Monica Abbott who is 39-2 with a 0.62 ERA and 549 strikeouts. Opponents are batting just .096 against her. Megan Rhodes is 12-2 on the year with a 1.18 ERA and 172 strikeouts as well. India Chiles leads an offense that is batting .327 as a team. She is hitting .468 with 37 stolen bases. Lindsay Schutzler is batting .410 with 48 RBI and 33 stolen bases. Six of their nine starters have posted an above .300 avg. on the season.
Alabama holds a 22-11 lead in the all-time series with Tennessee with an 8-5 record in Knoxville. After losing three of the first four meetings with the Lady Vols, the Tide went on to win 10 of the next 11 contests and 15 of the next 17 from 1999-2004. Last season Alabama swept Tennessee in a three-game series before losing to them in the SEC Tournament.
Last Year's Series
When these two squads met last year Tennessee was No. 2 and Alabama was ranked sixth. Monica Abbott came in 17-0 but gave up an early run in the first game. The Tide took a 3-0 lead before winnning 3-2 to hand Abott her first loss of the year. The second game was tied at 1-1 heading into the ninth inning. UT hung three on the board in the top half but Bama stormed back with four runs on four hits and an error to win the game on a Staci Ramsey two-run double to left center. The Vols led 3-1 in the third game but a four-run fifth inning sparked the Tide to a 6-3 win for the series sweep. Dani Woods and Kelley Montalvo each had two-run doubles in the big fifth inning. Abbott took all three losses in the series.
Alabama Players vs. Tennessee
Several Crimson Tide players have had success in their careers against Tennessee. Chrissy Owens has pitched in six games against the Lady Vols with a 1-0 record and one save. She has thrown 20 innings with six runs allowed, three earned, 22 hits six walks and 19 strikeouts. Kelley Montalvo was 4-for-9 with a double and two RBI last season while Brittany Rogers scored two runs and had three stolen bases. Mandy Burford went 3-for-8 last season with a run scored.
Last Time Out
Alabama swept a three-game series with Kentucky with a memorable finish for the five seniors. Blair Potter tossed her first career no-hitter with 10 strikeouts in an 8-0 (5) win on Sunday. Kellie Deska drove in fellow senior Michelle Menningmann with a sacrifice fly for the game-ending run. Mandy Burford hit her 10th home run of the season in the inning. Mallory Benak also scored a run in the game.
Tide on ESPN
Two of the three games at Tennessee this weekend will be televised nationally. The first game of Saturday's doubleheader will start at 1 p.m. and will be aired by ESPN2. Sunday's series finale will be shown on ESPN and is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. The commentators for the weekend will be Eric Collins calling the play-by-play and Cat Osterman providing the color commentary. After the weekend 14 of Alabama's games will have been televised this season. WVUA has shown 10, Fox Sports one and Cox has also shown a game at LSU.
No. 1 Team in the Nation
Alabama is ranked No. 1 in the country this week for the first time in school history. They hold the top spot in both the USA Today/NFCA Top-25 and ESPN.com/USA Softball Top-25. Since the first regular season poll came out the Crimson Tide has been ranked in the top five every week with this week marking the 12th straight for Bama. The Tide has been ranked in the top 10 for 29 straight weeks and have been ranked in 73 consecutive polls.
RPI Has Bama No. 2
Alabama was listed No. 2 in the latest NFCA Simulated Ratings Percentage Index on May 2. For the fourth straight week the Crimson Tide was listed among the top five RPI in the nation. Arizona has held the top spot for four straight weeks with the top strength of schedule. The Tide has the second best winning percentage of any team in the nation.
The Crimson Tide won No. 50 against Kentucky to give them 50 wins for the fifth time in school history and third straight year. The first came in 2000 when the team set a school record with 66 victories (66-14). They followed with a 50-11 mark in 2001. Bama has also won over 50 games the last two years going 63-15 in 2005 and 54-11 last year.
SEC Pitcher of the Week
Blair Potter (Columbus, Ga.) was named the SEC Pitcher of the Week this week after recording her first career no-hitter against Kentucky. She struck out a career-high 10 batters in the game while only allowing one ball to leave the infield in five innings. For the week she was 3-0 with two shutouts. She did not allow a run and did not walk a batter in 18 1/3 innings. She gave up nine hits with 28 strikeouts while holding opponents to a .138 batting avg.
Blair Potter tossed the 11th no-hitter in school history against Kentucky and the first of her career. It was the first no-no of the 2007 season for Alabama after they recorded four last season. Chrissy Owens was the last to record one before Potter when she did not allow a hit in five innings against Mississippi Valley State in the NCAA Regionals last year. Stephanie VanBrakle tallied five no-hitters in her career with the Tide's only perfect game last season at Kentucky.
Alabama is currently on a 17-game winning streak and finished with an undefeated 16-0 record in April. During that span they have outscored their opponents 144-32. They scored eight or more runs in 12 of the 17 games and were in double digits seven times. They have hit home runs in 12 of the last 13 outings. The team is batting .370 (153-of-413) with 26 home runs, 27 doubles, three triples, 81 walks and 65 stolen bases. Opposing pitchers have an ERA of 10.04 against Alabama in the last 17 games. Earlier this season Bama won 25 straight games to start the season and went undefeated at 17-0 in February.
Alabama Players Streaking
The Crimson Tide players have been red hot during the current 17-game hitting streak. Lauren Parker leads the way and is batting .526 (20-of-38) during that span with 16 runs, six doubles, one home run and 11 RBI. She also has a .600 on-base pct. Dani Woods has been clutch with 24 RBI to go along with a .500 avg., nine runs, three doubles and five home runs. She has a .974 slugging pct. Brittany Rogers is batting .418 with 21 runs, three doubles, one triple, two home runs, 14 RBI and 17 stolen bases. Charlotte Morgan is hitting .375 with 14 runs, two doubles, three home runs and 17 RBI. Jordan Praytor is hitting .372 and has a .509 OBP with 12 runs, 16 hits, three home runs, 15 RBI, 12 walks and 10 stolen bases. Mandy Burford has a .558 OBP with 11 hits, 12 walks and six HBP. Blair Potter is 9-0 during that time with a 0.99 ERA and 59 strikeouts.
The Crimson Tide went udefeated in both February and April this season. They won their first 25 games of the sesaon with 17 of those victories coming in February. After posting a 17-4 record in March, the Tide went 16-0 in April to leap to No. 1 in the country. Last year Alabama went 12-1 in February and 15-4 in April. May was also kind to them as they won nine of their 10 games to advance to the Women's College World Series for the fourth time. The only loss came to Tennessee in the SEC Tournament.
One of Top Programs Since 2000
Since 2000 the Alabama softball team has won the second most games of any team in college softball with 423 victories. They are only one win shy of the winningest program in the country, Arizona, at 424 wins. LSU is close behind with 415 overall victories.
BAMA Matches SEC Home Run Record
The 2007 Alabama softball team matched the school and SEC single season home run record against Kentucky when they drove five out of the park in three games. Senior Mandy Burford hit a solo home run to give them 73 for the season, matching the record set by the 1998 squad. With three games left to play in the regular season they need just one to break the record. This season in 54 games they are averaging 1.35 per contest.
Record Setting Year
Alabama has already set four stolen base records and the single season home run record. They are on pace to shatter other records including, batting avg., slugging pct. and on-base pct. Here is a look at records the Tide are approaching.
Strengths in Numbers
Alabama is the only team in the country that puts nine starters in the batting order every day who have hit four or more home runs. They are actually the only team with more than eight players who have hit four or more as 10 different players have hit four this season for Coach Murphy's squad. The Tide is also one of only three teams in the country with 13 different players who have hit home runs (Alabama, CSU and Hawai'i).
This season nearly every season and game school record for stolen bases has fallen or is close to being passed. On April 3 against Northwestern State, Alabama set a record with nine stolen bases in one game. It broke the previous mark of eight. In the first game at Ole Miss, the Tide swiped seven bases to set a new single season record with 139 and now have 155 for the year. Mandy Burford had four SB in the game to match the record held by Kelly Kretschman against Arkansas in 1999. Brittany Rogers has set the single season individual record with 44 SB, one more than Kretschman's 43 SB in 2000.
150 Stolen Bases and Counting
The Crimson Tide has blazed their way to a SEC-leading 168 stolen bases in 54 games this season, an average of 3.11 stolen bases per game. Brittany Rogers leads the team with 44 stolen bases. Jordan Praytor is next with 28 SB while Mandy Burford has 27. Mallory Benak is 17-of-21 and Lauren Parker is 15-of-20. The Tide has stolen 147 more bases than their opponents and has three or more stolen bases in 31 games.
Alabama is far and away leading the nation in stolen bases per game at 3.11 per outing. They have posted 168 SB in 54 games. The next best team is Tennessee who is averaging 2.49 per contest and has 136 SB in 55 outings. Only 11 teams have over 100 SB for the season.
The Crimson Tide players have stepped on home plate 402 times this season to lead the nation. They are averaging 7.44 runs per game to lead the country. So far 11 different players have scored 20 runs. Seven of those have tallied over 30 with three over 40 and one over 50. Brittany Rogers leads the SEC with 57 runs, scoring in 37 of the 54 contests. Lauren Parker has scored 46 times with runs in 35 of her 47 games. Mandy Burford is next with 40 runs scored and has scored in 30 outings.
Hitting on All Cylinders
Alabama has been outstanding at the plate all season and currently lead the nation with a .342 team batting average. The Tide has 457 hits in 54 games, an average of 8.5 hits per game. Two players have over 60 hits with Brittany Rogers leading the way with 71 and Lauren Parker close behind with 62. If the season ended today, Parker would hold the school record with a .484 batting avg., 16 points higher than the record held by Kelly Kretschman.
Leading the Nation
Alabama ranked first in the country in four different categories when the NCAA came out with its team and individual rankings on Tuesday. They are first in batting (.342 avg.), scoring (7.44 runs per game), slugging pct. (.574) and stolen bases per game (3.11). The Tide also rank in the top-10 in four other categories. They are second in win pct. (.926), fifth in ERA (1.31), seventh in home runs per game (1.35) and eighth in fielding pct. (.975).
Alabama leads the SEC in 11 team categories. They are batting 15 points higher, have scored 85 more runs, hit 18 more HR and stolen 31 more bases than any other school. In SEC games only, Alabama leads the conference in 15 different team categories. They are batting 49 points higher, have a 156 poing higher slugging pct., scored 66 more runs, tallied 29 more hits, hit 15 more HR, walked 15 more times and stole 13 more bases than any other SEC school in conference play.
Eyeing SEC Records
Alabama is right on target to finish the season close to several single season SEC records. With the numbers the team has currently they would break records for batting avg. (UA .342 - SEC .342), slugging pct. (UA .574 - SEC .527) and on-base pct. (UA .438 - SEC .409). They are also on pace to push the records for runs scored (UA 402 - SEC 437) and RBI (UA 347 - SEC 374). Lauren Parker is also close to the SEC record for batting avg. in a single season with her .484 avg. Sarah Fekete of Tennessee hit .500 in 2006.
Praytor Catching Fire
Junior Jordan Praytor has started to swing the bat well over the past two weeks. In her last seven games, she has had five multi-hit games and is batting .571 (12-of-21) with seven runs scored, three home runs, nine RBI and six walks. She has a 1.000 slugging pct. and .667 OBP. She also has six stolen bases during that time frame. She has raised her avg. 32 points and is now hitting .373 with 38 runs, six home runs and 40 RBI.
Setting the Table
As the leadoff hitter in the Tide lineup, Brittany Rogers (Dacula, Ga.) has done a good job setting the table for her teammates this season. She leads the team with 71 hits and is tops in the SEC with 57 runs scored. She has also set the school record with 44 stolen bases this season. In the 20 times she has reached base in the first inning, she has 15 stolen bases providing a deadly threat early in the game for Bama.
Burford Always on Base
Senior outfielder Mandy Burford (Anniston, Ala.) makes the most of her at bats and has constantly been on base for the Tide over the past few weeks. She has a .482 on-base pct. for the season and a .558 OBP over the last 17 games. She is batting .336 with 42 hits but leads the team in walks (27) and hit-by-pitch (10). When she reaches base she is a dangerous runner with 27 stolen bases on the year.
Scoring in Bunches
One of the big reasons that Alabama is 50-4 this season is the fact that they have scored three or more runs in an inning 56 times. They have had an inning with at least three runs in 37 of the 54 contests. They have two games this season with a 10-run inning with both coming in the second frame. They accomplished the feat against Winthrop and most recently Georgia. The 10 runs tied for the second highest run total in a single inning in school history. Alabama has also recorded nine, eight and seven-run innings this season. They have scored six runs six times, five runs nine times, four runs 14 times and three runs 22 times. They have outscored their opponents 87-10 in the second inning and 85-13 in the third.
Senior starting pitcher Blair Potter is undefeated in her Division I career with a 21-0 record at Alabama. Since transferring from Wallace-Dothan Community College, Potter has gone through the ranks without a loss. She has a career 1.49 ERA after posting a 1.14 ERA this season. In 2007 she has recorded three shutouts in her 20 starts and is 16-0. She has allowed only 18 earned runs in 110 2/3 innings with 74 hits allowed, 17 walks and 110 strikeouts. Right-handed batters are hitting just .169 against the Tide's first ever left-handed hurler.
No Free Passes
Blair Potter has not allowed free baserunners this season, walking only 17 batters in 110 2/3 innings. Out of her 20 starts she has not walked a batter in 10 outings. She has only walked one batter five times. She has a strikeout to walk ratio of 6.47 to 1. She is on a current streak of 20 straight innings without a walk. In SEC games she has only walked seven batters in 61 2/3 innings with 66 strikeouts.
Owens Moves Up on Shutout Lists
Junior righty Chrissy Owens has blossomed into a No. 1 pitcher this year with a 23-2 record and 1.08 ERA. She has started 24 games with 11 shutouts and five combined shutouts for 16 total. She has only allowed 23 earned runs in 149 innings with 129 strikeouts. She tallied two shutouts at Ole Miss to move into second on the single season record list and third all-time.
Chrissy Owens (Miami, Fla.) earned her 50th career win against Tennessee Chattanooga, becoming just the fifth Tide player to win 50 games. The win also was her 20th of the season and she is now 23-2. It was the 12th 20-win season in the program's 11-year history. Owens has accomplished the feat in back-to-back seasons after recording 21 victories last season as a sophomore. The last two seasons Alabama has had a pair of players who won 20 games. They are trying to accomplish the feat for the third straight year as Blair Potter is a perfect 16-0.
No Extra Base Hits
Chrissy Owens has only allowed 15 extra base hits this season. She has only allowed two home runs in 149 innings, the fewest by any pitcher in the SEC who has pitched an average of one inning per the team's total games. Owens has only given up six home runs in 418 career innings. She has allowed 11 2B and two 3B this season as well for only 15 extra base hits out of 123 total hits. As a team Alabama has only allowed 12 home runs, tied for first in the SEC.
The Crimson Tide players have tallied 116 multiple-hit games this season. So far 13 different players have posted a game with two or more hits. Brittany Rogers leads the way with 23 multi-hit games while Lauren Parker is right behind her with 21. Rogers has 17 contests with two hits and six with three hits. Parker has 14 games with two hits, three with three hits and one with four hits. Charlotte Morgan and Jordan Praytor each have 14 on the year with Kelley Montalvo at 11.
Part of the reason why the Crimson Tide are averaging over seven runs per game is the number of times they have had a player with two or more RBI in a game. Lauren Parker leads the way with 14 multi-RBI games while Dani Woods and Jordan Praytor each have 12. Charlotte Morgan sits at 11 and Kelley Montalvo has tallied 10 multi-RBI contests.
New Infield Has Bright Future
At the start of the 2007 season the Tide had new starters at all four infield positions. So far they have all been pleasant surprises with 34 combined home runs and only 24 errors in 54 games. Another bright side is all four are either freshman or sophomores. Kelley Montalvo is the only returning starter moving from second to third base. She has 10 home runs and six errors in 169 chances. Sophomore shortstop Kellie Eubanks has six home runs and 11 errors in 164 chances. Sophomore transfer Lauren Parker has nine home runs and five errors in 151 chances. Freshman Charlotte Morgan has nine home runs and two errors in 305 chances.
Parker Finds Holes
Lauren Parker continues to impress by finding holes all over the field for base hits. In three games at Ole Miss she went 7-for-10 and against Troy she was 2-for-3 with a home run. She leads the team and the SEC with a .484 batting avg. to go with 62 hits, 46 runs, 11 doubles, two triples, nine home runs and 43 RBI. She has recorded an .813 slugging pct. in 47 games and a .541 on-base percentage. She leads the team with 14 multi-RBI contests and has 21 multi-hit games. She has a hit in 36 of her 47 games, scored a run in 35 outings and driven in a run in 24 games. She has also been effective on the basepaths with 15 stolen bases.
The Crimson Tide have only played 14 games on the road this season but hold an 11-3 record. They won four of five contests on a week-long trek to Florida and South Carolina, including a sweep over the Gamecocks. The only other two losses came at LSU after Bama ended the Tigers 30-game home winning streak.
Junior Dani Woods has been on fire during the Tide's 17-game winning streak. She has been producing runs left and right with 24 RBI during the span. She is batting .500 (19-of-38) over the last 17 games. She has raised her average 76 points during the span. She climbed over the .300 mark for the season and is now batting .345 (40-of-116). She has hit five home runs during the span while scoring nine times. She has moved into the top-10 all-time in both doubles and RBI. For the season she has 26 runs scored, seven doubles, one triple, seven home runs and 42 RBI.
Hitting .300 or Better
Seven of the nine everyday starters are batting over .300 for Alabama. As a team they are hitting .342 which is 132 points better than their opponents' average of .210. In all nine of the 16 players who have batted this season are hitting over .300. Lauren Parker leads the way with a .484 avg. while Mallory Benak is 7-of-13 (.538). Brittany Rogers is just over .400 with a .403 avg. and Charlotte Morgan is batting .382. The other players batting over .300 are Jordan Praytor (.373), Michelle Menningmann (.311) Dani Woods (.345), Kelley Montalvo (.341) and Mandy Burford (.336).
40 RBI Seasons
Five Alabama players have already eclipsed the 40-RBI mark for the season. In the SEC only 12 players have recorded seasons with 40 or more RBI with five of those wearing the Crimson and White. Lauren Parker leads the way with 43 while Dani Woods is close behind with 42. Mandy Burford has 41 on the year with 10 home runs. Jordan Praytor and Charlotte Morgan are tied with 40 RBI apiece.
With two outs you can't count the Tide batters out. They have produced 120 runs this season with two outs. They drove in nine runs with two outs in three games against Kentucky. Lauren Parker leads the team with 18 two-out RBI while Jordan Praytor has driven in 17 runs. Parker is batting .429 (18-of-42) with two outs while Praytor is also hitting .429 (15-of-35). Brittany Rogers is hitting .410 (16-of-39) with two outs and has nine RBI. Dani Woods hit a RBI double against Troy to give her 13 two-out RBI. Mandy Burford and Charlotte Morgan are next on the list with 11 RBI coming with two outs.
National Player of the Year Finalists
Lauren Parker and Chrissy Owens were named two of 25 finalists for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year. Parker is hitting .484 with nine home runs and 43 RBI. She ranks in the top-10 in the SEC in 10 different categories. She is batting .493 in SEC play and leads the league in two categories in conference only games. Owens is 23-2 with a 1.08 ERA and 129 strikeouts. She has 11 shutouts in 24 starts. She is third in the SEC in ERA. The Crimson Tide is one of six teams with multiple selections to the list. The list will be narrowed to 10 finalists on May 9.
BAMA vs. Ranked Teams
Alabama has played 15 games against teams ranked in the Top-25 this season and own an 11-4 record.