Bama Softball Hosts NCAA Super Regional
The super regional continues at 2 p.m. Saturday with game two. If needed, the third game of the NCAA Tuscaloosa Super Regional would take place at 4:30 p.m. Saturday.
Alabama swept through the NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional last weekend with a win over Chattanooga and two wins over Jacksonville State, outscoring the opponents 22-2. The Crimson Tide of Coach Patrick Murphy is 54-6 on the season and won the Southeastern Conference Western Division title with a 25-3 league record.
UA is in search of its third NCAA Super Regional Championship and its fifth trip to the Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City. It is the second time Alabama will host super regional action as Bama advanced to the WCWS out of the Tuscaloosa Super Regional in 2006.
Missouri visits Tuscaloosa this weekend after capturing the NCAA Iowa City Regional as the No. 2 seed with two wins over host Iowa and the region's top-seed No. 14 Long Beach State. The Tigers are making their first super regional appearance. Missouri has advanced to the Women's College World Series on three occasions, capturing regional titles in 1983, 1991 and 1994. Missouri posted a 47-15 record and finished Big 12 play with an 11-6 mark.
Alabama is making its 10th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament and boasts a 30-11 record in NCAA Regional and Super Regional play. The Tide has won six regional titles, two super regional championships (2005 and 2006), and advanced to the College World Series on four occasions (2000, 2003, 2005 and 2006).
The Crimson Tide is hosting a super regional for the second time (previously in 2006). Alabama has a 4-2 record in super regional action and a 2-0 mark at the Alabama Softball Complex.
Here are facts and figures on the Alabama-Missouri contest:
Scouting the Tigers
Missouri enters the NCAA Tuscaloosa Super Regional after winning the NCAA Iowa City Regional last weekend as the No. 2 seed. The Tigers posted two wins over the host Hawkeyes and also defeated the region's top-seed Long Beach State. Coach Ehren Earleywine's Tigers are 47-15 on the season and finished the Big 12 campaign in third place with an 11-6 mark.
MU is hitting .289 on the season with 65 home runs and is aggressive on the base paths with 139 stolen bases. Rhea Taylor led the Tigers with a .406 batting average. She overtook Bama's Brittany Rogers (55) last weekend for the NCAA stolen base lead with 57. MU also has a cluster of power in the middle of its lineup with Amanda Renth's 20 home runs, Lindsey Ubrun's 16 long balls and Jen Bruck's 14 home runs.
In the circle, the Tigers boast a 2.26-team ERA with ace Stacy Delaney anchoring the staff. Delaney is 20-3 on the year with a 1.85 ERA and 174 strikeouts in 174.1 innings. Bruck has served as Missouri's No. 2 starter with a 17-9 record and a 2.71 ERA.
Alabama in the NCAA Tournament
Alabama earned its 10th consecutive NCAA Tournament bid in 2008 and has a 54-6 overall record. In just its 12th year of existence, the Crimson Tide program has garnered 10 appearances in NCAA Regional play. The Tide has a 30-11 record in NCAA Regional and Super Regional action (not including the College World Series) and have won six NCAA Regional titles (2000, ‘03, ‘05, ‘06, ‘07 & ‘08). UA is hosting its second NCAA Super Regional (2006) and appearing in its fourth straight super regional. The Tide is 23-3 in regional and super regional games played at the Alabama Softball Complex.
Crimson Tide Garner No. 3 National Seed
Alabama was awarded the No. 3 national seed for the 2008 NCAA Tournament. The Crimson Tide was second in the most recent RPI released by the NCAA on May 4. The Crimson Tide is 11-5 against top-25 competition, including non-conference games away from home against Northwestern, DePaul and Washington.
Tide against the 2008 NCAA Tournament Field
The Crimson Tide played an impressive 15 teams in 2008 that qualified for the NCAA Tournament (including last weekend's NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional). Alabama played 34 games against those NCAA Tournament teams and posted a 28-6 (.824) record. The 34 games against NCAA teams represented 56.7 percent of Alabama's 2008 schedule. The Crimson Tide also faced five of the 16 No. 1 regional seeds with a 10-4 mark in those games. UA also played four super regional teams with a 4-3 record.
Tide TV on RollTide.com
The NCAA Tuscaloosa Super Regional will be available free to everyone on Tide TV through RollTide.com. Just go to RollTide.com and fill out a simple registration form for all of the 2008 NCAA Tuscaloosa Super Regional action.
Missouri and Alabama enter the 2008 Tuscaloosa Super Regional with similar styles - lots of speed and power. The Tide and Tigers both rank in the top five in stolen bases per game and top 16 in home runs per game. Alabama has stolen 155 bases this season to lead the country with 2.58 per game while Missouri ranks fourth with 139 swipes or 2.24 per game. The Tide is eighth nationally in home runs with 1.23 per game (74 total) while the Tigers are 16th with 1.05 long balls per game (65 total). Those stats have translated to runs on the field as Alabama leads the country in runs per game at 7.03 and Missouri is 14th with 5.80.
Patience and selectiveness at the plate has been a winning combination for Alabama in 2008. The Crimson Tide has drawn 244 walks as a team while striking out just 241 times. The Tide's top three home run hitters have proven to be the most patient on the team. Charlotte Morgan, Kelley Montalvo and Dani Woods all have at least eight more walks than strikeouts. Montalvo leads the way with 23 more walks than Ks with 33 base on balls and just 10 strikeouts. Woods has a team-high 40 walks and 22 strikeouts for a plus-18 ratio. Morgan has 35 extra-base hits on the season and has eight more walks (22) than strikeouts (14).
On-Base Plus Slugging a Telling Stat
OPS or on-base percentage plus slugging percentage has become a popular way of better using statistics to identify a player's true productivity at the plate. As an example of OPS–an excellent example–Alabama star Charlotte Morgan has an on-base percentage of .498. She has a slugging percentage (total bases on hits divided by at-bats) of .826. That gives her an OPS of 1.324.
The OPS of some of Alabama's other top hitters with at least 100 at-bats are Kelley Montalvo 1.236, Dani Woods 1.096, Lauren Parker 1.065, Brittany Rogers 1.040, Kellie Eubanks .945, Ashley Holcombe .944, Jordan Praytor .910, and Whitney Larsen .901.
Alabama's roster is filled with outstanding talent up and down the line up, but a few names have stepped to the forefront for All-America honors in 2008.
• Sophomore first baseman/pitcher Charlotte Morgan is one of 10 finalists for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year. The native of Moreno Valley, Calif., is hitting .424 with 17 home runs, 18 doubles and a school-record 71 RBI, which ranks third nationally. She is also 16-2 in the circle with a 1.35 ERA, while boasting a 10-1 record in SEC play with a 1.00 ERA that ranked second in the league.
• Freshman hurler Kelsi Dunne was named the SEC Freshman of the Year and earned first-team All-South Region honors. She has a 24-4 overall record and a 1.39 ERA. She was second in the league with 114 Ks in conference games and has 247 in 35 total appearances this season that ranks fifth all time at Alabama. Her 24 wins tie the UA freshman record.
• Center fielder Brittany Rogers is among the leaders nationally in stolen bases with 55, including a SEC-best 25 in league play. She is hitting .452 and leading the nation in runs scored with 74. Rogers on-base percentage is .502 while slugging .538.
• Kelley Montalvo is one of the best defensive players in the country with a staggering .988 fielding percentage at third base in 160 chances at the hot corner. She is hitting .396 with 14 doubles, two triples and 10 home runs while driving in 53 runs. Montalvo is reaching base at an astounding .528 clip with a .708 slugging percentage.
• Catcher Ashley Holcombe has been amazing behind the dish with a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage in league play. She is also hitting .307 overall in with seven home runs 25 RBI. There have been just 20 stolen base attempts on the strong-armed backstop this season while throwing out six and picking off a school record five.
Keys to Winning
The Crimson Tide has been clutch at the plate this season and no statistics better illustrate that point than the .359 average with runners in scoring position and the two-out 148 RBI
Lauren Parker and Brittany Rogers are leading the Tide at the plate with runners in scoring position. Parker is hitting .467 (21 for 45) and Rogers is hitting .517 (31 for 60) while Charlotte Morgan (.462), Dani Woods (.409) and Kelley Montalvo (.377) and are close behind.
With two outs in an inning the Tide have produced 39.5 percent of their RBI this season (148 of 375). Morgan has paced the Tide with a .484 (30 for 62) average with 25 two-out RBI. Rogers is hitting .490 (24 for 49) while Kellie Eubanks has an impressive 24 two-out RBI.
Kelsi Dunne, Chrissy Owens and Charlotte Morgan have been shutting down opponents this season. Dunne has held the opponent scoreless 10 times this season, which ranks as tied for the sixth-most shutouts in school history. That includes wins over No. 4 Tennessee. No. 4 Florida, No. 15 Mississippi State, Kentucky, Ole Miss, Arkansas, South Carolina and State again in the SEC Tournament. 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 on April 20. Morgan has four shutouts on the season, blanking Ole Miss, LSU, Arkansas and South Carolina. The trio has combined for 18 shutouts this season.
Two No-Nos for Rookie Dunne
It only took five starts, but Tide true freshman pitcher Kelsi Dunne etched her name in the UA record books with a breakout pitching performance against Illinois on Feb. 22. The Port Orange, Fla., native returned to her home state and threw the 12th no-hitter in Crimson Tide history in a 6-0 win over the Illini. The performance was truly dominating, as Dunne allowed only two base runners in the historic win. Dunne followed that up with her second no-hitter of the season in a five-inning effort against Ole Miss on March 30. She struck out 11 and allowed just two base runners on a walk and a hit by pitch.
Rookie K Machine
Freshman pitcher Kelsi Dunne has demonstrated her ability to baffle hitters in her first 28 career starts. Dunne leads the team with 247 strikeouts in 186.1 innings pitched, an average of 9.28 K's per seven innings. She struck out 11 in her collegiate debut and has 10 shutouts and 16 complete games included in her 24-4 pitching record. Dunne owns a 1.39 ERA and has made 35 appearances this season. She fanned a season-high 15 in eight innings at Auburn on April 12 and has nine double-digit strikeout games.
Tide in the Rankings
Alabama's top-three ranking is backed up by its numbers in 2008. The Crimson Tide rank in the top eight in eight categories in the NCAA's ninth rankings of the season that were released on May 20. The Crimson Tide leads the nation in stolen bases with 2.58 per game (155 of 175) and scoring (7.03). UA is second slugging percentage (.565) while ranking third winning percentage (.900). Alabama is fourth in doubles (1.87 or 112) and batting average (.333) while ranking eighth th in home runs (1.23) and seventh in fielding percentage (.976).
Individually, Brittany Rogers is second nationally in stolen bases, averaging .92 per game (55 for 60) behind Missouri's Rhea Taylor. Rogers is the top run scorer nationally at 1.23 per game. She also ranks eighth in batting average (.452). Charlotte Morgan ranks third in RBI (1.19 per game for a total of 71) and 18th in home runs (.29) per game. Chrissy Owens is tied for 10th nationally in saves with five while Dani Woods ranks 15th in walks per game with .74. Kelsi Dunne is 22nd nationally in strikeouts per seven innings (9.28) while placing 30th in wins (24) and 37th in ERA (1.35).
NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional Recap
Alabama rolled through the NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional to claim its sixth NCAA Regional title last weekend. The Crimson Tide opened with a 8-0 mercy-rule win against Chattanooga on Thursday, May 15 and then posted back-to-back victories over Jacksonville State, 10-1 (5) and 4-1, to advance to their fourth straight NCAA Super Regional. Trailing 1-0 in the fifth inning of the championship game vs. Jacksonville State, the Tide used back-to-back-to-back home runs from the 7-8-9 hitters to earn the win. It was the first time in school history that Alabama hit back-to-back-to-back home runs. The Crimson Tide hit an impressive .392 in the regional with a .824 slugging percentage and a .447 on-base percentage. Brittany Rogers was everywhere for the Tide with an amazing .800 (8 for 10) batting average, five runs scored, an .818 on-base percentage, a 1.500 slugging percentage and an inside-the-park home run. In the circle Kelsi Dunne and Charlotte Morgan combined for a 0.78 ERA. Morgan was 1-0 and did not surrender a run in 5.1 innings vs. Chattanooga while Dunne captured two wins and struck out 16 in 11 innings vs. Jacksonville State.
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