Alabama Meets State In SEC Tournament

Alabama enters the 2008 Southeastern Conference Tournament as the number two seed after winning the SEC Western Division Championship with a 25-3 SEC record. The Crimson Tide will play seventh-seed Mississippi State in the first round at Tiger Park in Baton Rouge, La., at 5 p.m. CDT Thursday.

Alabama boasts a 49-5 overall record and is ranked tied for third in the latest USA Today/NFCA poll and fourth in the Softball poll. Alabama will be looking for its fourth SEC Tournament Championship after capturing titles in 1998, 2003 and 2005.

Bracket Summary: No. 2-seed Alabama is joined by No. 7 Mississippi State, No. 3 LSU and No. 6 Auburn in one side of the 2008 SEC Tournament bracket. The top-seeded Florida Gators are on the other side of the bracket. State is 40-19 on the season with a 13-14 record in SEC play. The Bulldogs are receiving votes in both polls. MSU is hitting .308 as a team with a 1.99 ERA.

Series History: Alabama opens SEC Tournament action against Mississippi State. The Tide owns a commanding 34-7 lead in the all-time series, including a three-game sweep in Starkville earlier this season and 12 consecutive wins in the series. UA is also 3-1 against the Bulldogs in SEC Tournament play.

On Deck: The Crimson Tide awaits word on an opportunity to host a NCAA Regional from May 16-18. The Tide has hosted a regional in each of the last three years and is expected to host again in 2008.

Alabama at the SEC Tournament

Alabama owns three SEC Tournament Championships, including two under head coach Patrick Murphy. The Crimson Tide won their first title in 1998 and followed that with championships in 2003 and 2005. UA owns a 21-16 all-time record in the tournament, including a 3-1 mark against opening-round opponent Mississippi State.

Rogers Breaks Stolen Base Record

Brittany Rogers set an impressive school record just midway through her junior season at the Capstone. Rogers swiped her 134 career base on Sunday, April 20, against South Carolina. In the process, she passed Kelly Kretschman's school record of 133. Kretschman had held every Alabama career offensive record in her four-year career that spanned from 1998-2001. Rogers now has 139 steals in 159 career attempts. Rogers also has the top two single season stolen base marks in school history with 48 in 2007 and 53 and counting in 2008.

Alabama Rising High in RPI

Alabama is No. 2 in the most recent RPI released by the NCAA on April 30. The Crimson Tide is 10-4 against top-25 competition, including non-conference games away from home against Northwestern, DePaul and Washington.

Crimson Tide Slips in National Polls

Alabama is tied with UCLA for third in the USA Today/NFCA poll and the Softball rankings after dropping games to DePaul and Georgia last week. Florida took over as the nation's consensus No. 1 team with Arizona State second.

Rogers, Morgan Finalists for USA Softball POY

Brittany Rogers and Charlotte Morgan were among 25 finalists for the 2008 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Award presented by the Amateur Softball Association. A junior from Dacula, Ga., Rogers patrols center field for the Crimson Tide while hitting .443 and leading the nation with 53 stolen bases. Morgan, a sophomore from Moreno Valley, Calif., is a dual threat for the Tide with a .435 batting average and a SEC-best 66 RBI that ranks third nationally. She also boasts a 14-2 record in the circle with a 1.28 ERA and a .205 opponent batting average. UA is one of six schools, and the only SEC program, to have multiple finalists.

Tide in the Rankings

Alabama's top-two ranking is backed up by its numbers in 2008. The Crimson Tide rank in the top 16 in seven categories in the NCAA's seventh rankings of the season that were released on May 6. The Crimson Tide leads the nation in stolen bases with 2.78 per game (150 of 170) and scoring (7.24). UA is second slugging percentage (.566) while ranking third in batting average (.338) and winning percentage (.907). Alabama is fourth in doubles (1.92 or 104) while ranking 11th in home runs (1.19) and 16th in fielding percentage (.975).

Individually, Brittany Rogers is far and away the top base stealer in the country, averaging .98 per game (53 for 58), and the top run scorer at 1.24 per game. She also ranks 12th in batting average (.443). Charlotte Morgan ranks third in RBI (1.23 per game for a total of 63) and 24th in home runs (.28) per game, 20th in doubles (.34). Chrissy Owens is tied for 10th nationally in saves with five while Dani Woods ranks 13th in walks per game with .75. Kelsi Dunne is 23rd nationally in strikeouts per seven innings (9.3) while placing 30th in wins (21) and 36th in ERA (1.28).

Slick-Fielding Tide

Good defense is many times the key component to winning softball and the Crimson Tide is among the best defensive teams in the country in 2008. Alabama boasts a .975 fielding percentage in 54 games this season. UA has not made an error in 28 of 54 games this season. The Tide's fielding numbers get even better in SEC play with a .984 fielding percentage over 28 games this season. UA has made just 12 errors in 730 chances during conference action, including 18 error-free games.

All-Star Candidates

Alabama's roster is filled with outstanding talent up and down the line up, but a few names have stepped to the forefront in 2008.

• Sophomore first baseman/pitcher Charlotte Morgan is a strong candidate for SEC Player of the Year Honors. The native of Moreno Valley, Calif., is hitting .435 with 15 home runs, 18 doubles and 66 RBI, which ranks third nationally. She is also 14-2 in the circle with a 1.28 ERA, while boasting a 10-1 record in SEC play with a 1.00 ERA that ranks second in the league.

• Freshman hurler Kelsi Dunne has made strong case for SEC Pitcher of the Year with a 21-3 overall record and a 1.30 ERA that ranks third in the SEC. She is second in the league with 114 Ks in conference games and has 214 in 31 total appearances this season

• Center fielder Brittany Rogers leads the country in stolen bases with 53, including a SEC-best 25 in league play while hitting .443 and leading the nation in runs scored (67).

• Kelley Montalvo is one of the best defensive players in the country with a staggering .986 fielding percentage at third base in 145 chances at the hot corner. She is fielding .985 in SEC games while hitting .419 in league play and .416 overall. She is reaching base at an astounding .550 clip overall and .547 in SEC play.

• Catcher Ashley Holcombe has been amazing behind the dish with a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage while throwing out two base runners and picking one off. She is also hitting .315 in SEC play with four home runs.

Clutch Hittin' Kellie

Alabama shortstop Kellie Eubanks seems to be coming up big in tight situations for the Tide as of late. The junior's last three home runs - she now has seven on the season - have come late in games when Alabama has needed her most. Eubanks first big home run came in the first game of the LSU series with the Tide trailing 4-0 with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning. She tagged a three-run home run vs. the Tigers as UA went on for a 9-8 win in 10 innings. Eubanks then hammered a two-out solo shot in extra innings at Auburn that proved to be the difference in a 5-4 win. She finally gave Alabama a little breathing room in the top of the seventh inning at Arkansas Thursday night with a three-run shot to put the Razorbacks away in a 4-0 Tide win. Eubanks is hitting .297 on the season with 40 RBI and a .426 on-base percentage. Eubanks is leading the team with 24 two-out RBI this season.

Keys to Winning

The Crimson Tide have been clutch at the plate this season and no statistics better illustrate that point than their .361 average with runners in scoring position and their .327 average and 140 RBI with two outs.

Lauren Parker and Brittany Rogers are leading the Tide at the plate with runners in scoring position. Parker is hitting .500 (21 for 42) and Rogers is hitting .509 (29 for 57) while Charlotte Morgan (.474), Kelley Montalvo (.389) and Dani Woods (.393) are close behind. With two outs in an inning the Tide have produced 40.1 percent of their RBI this season (140 of 349). Morgan has paced the Tide with a .474 (27 for 57) average with 22 two-out RBI. Parker is second with a .444 (11 RBI) average and nine RBI, while Rogers is hitting .467 and Kellie Eubanks has the most two-out RBI with 24 and a .390 average.

SEC Chart Toppers

The University of Alabama has played outstanding softball thus far and it has shown in the SEC team statistics. The Tide pace the league in 12 offensive categories in conference games only, including; average (.332), slugging percentage (.598), on-base percentage (.433), runs (195), hits (238), home runs (43), doubles (54), stolen bases (68), total bases (429), walks (105), hit by pitches (27) and RBI (177).

Terror from the Leadoff Spot

Crimson Tide All-American Brittany Rogers has proven that she belongs in not only any discussion of the best leadoff hitters in the nation, but best players period. Rogers, a second-team All-American in 2007, is having one of the best seasons of any player across the country. Rogers is hitting .443 (78-of-176) through 54 games, leading the team and among the best in the SEC. She averages 1.44 hits per game and also leads the Tide and the country with 67 runs scored and 53 stolen bases. Rogers earned SEC Player of the Week accolades and was named Hampton Inn Crimson Classic MVP after hitting .696 and stealing 10 bases.

Shutout Trio

Kelsi Dunne, Chrissy Owens and Charlotte Morgan have been shutting down opponents this season. In seven of her last 10 SEC starts, Dunne has held the opponent scoreless. That streak includes wins over No. 3 Tennessee. No. 4 Florida, No. 15 Mississippi State, Kentucky, Ole Miss, Arkansas and South Carolina. Owens came within a strike of recording the second perfect-game in school history on April 2 at Samford and then shut down South Carolina for the 24th complete-game shutout of her career. Morgan has four shutouts over the last three weeks, blanking Ole Miss, LSU, Arkansas and South Carolina. The trio has combined for 17 shutouts this season.

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