Tide At Tennessee To Finish Season

Alabama junior Charlotte Morgan is in line to become the first Crimson Tide softball player to drive in 50 or more runs in three seasons. Morgan has 47 runs batted in. She drove in a Southeastern Conference record 79 last year. As a freshman the Moreno Valley, Calif., native drove in 52. The only other Tide player with two years of 50 or more RBI is Kelly Kretschman (64 in 1998,58 in 2000).

Alabama, ranked third in the nation, is in Knoxville to close out regular season play against the Tennessee Vols, ranked 15th in the nation. Bama is 43-8 overall and 19-6 in the SEC and has clinched the Western Division championship. Tennessee is 37-13-1, including a 12-10-1 SEC record.

The teams were to play a single game Friday evening (first pitch schedule for 6 p.m. EDT, 5 p.m. central time) and a doubleheader Saturday (starting at 1 p.m. EDT) at Sherri Lee Parker Stadium. Tennessee will also host the SEC Tournament beginning next week.

For the third time this season and the sixth time of her career sophomore Kelsi Dunne was named SEC Softball Pitcher of the Week. Dunne earned four of the five wins on the week for the Crimson Tide and tossed her second no-hitter of the season and fourth of her career to secure a series sweep over Auburn. The Port Orange, Fla. native had a perfect 0.00 ERA and struck out 32 batters in 19 innings. Opponents only managed to hit .109 during the week. Dunne's no-hitter moves her to within one of Alabama's all-time no-hit leader, Stephanie VanBrakle, who tossed five no-hitters in her career.

The one game that Dunne did not win last week was a no-hitter by Charlotte Morgan at Georgia Tech as the Tide staff had two no-hitters in the week.

Tide catcher Ashley Holcombe continues to produce in the batter's box . The senior backstop has collected 22 hits and 18 RBI during conference play and her .367 batting average and three home runs are both second on the squad. In her last 10 games Holcombe has hit 14-for-29 with 17 RBI, two home runs and a .724 slugging percentage.

Tiffany Huff and Jessica Spigner lead Tennessee's efforts at the plate. Huff has collected 60 hits in 143 at-bats for a team-leading .426 batting average. Huff's eight home runs are second-best on the squad while she boasts team-highs in RBI (65), slugging percentage (.702) and on-base percentage (.536). Spigner has belted a team-high 14 home runs and driven in 46 runs for a .609 slugging percentage. She has also picked up 52 hits in 153 at-bats for a .340 batting average. In the circle Tennessee is led by Cat Hosfield. The true freshman has appeared in 46 games and made 35 starts for the Lady Volunteers and carries a 27-10 record. In 230 innings Hosfield freshman has given up 185 hits, 93 runs, 78 earned for a 2.37 ERA and has struck out 197 batters. Tennessee returns 11 letterwinners to team that went 50-16 in 2008.

In 38 meetings between Alabama and Tennessee, the Crimson Tide holds a 24-14 all-time record over the Volunteers.

As a team in SEC play, Alabama checks in at first in hit by pitch (37), steal attempts (69), stolen bases (59) and is tied for the league lead in doubles allowed (13). The Tide is second in runs scored (138), doubles (32), total bases (275), walks (97), on-base percentage (.412), ERA (2.04), batters struck out (177), runs allowed (59), opposing batting average (.211), earned runs allowed (47), fielding double plays (11), wins (19), runners picked off (2), hits allowed (124), home runs allowed (12) and is tied for second in triples allowed (1). Alabama is third in batting average (.237), slugging percentage (.446), hits (177), plate appearances (771) and batters struck out looking (42).

Individually, Charlotte Morgan checks in at first place in batting average (.452), RBI (33) and is tied for first in sacrifice flies (3). In the circle, Morgan has allowed only nine walks which checks in at second in the conference. Kelley Montalvo is first in on-base percentage (.552) and tied for first in doubles (7) and hit by pitch (10). Montalvo's 22 walks are third in the league and her 23 runs scored are tied for third. Kelsi Dunne checks in at second in games started (17), wins (14), batters struck out (115) and batters struck out looking (31). Dunne's 1.76 ERA and .195 opposing batting average are third in the conference. Brittany Rogers has attempted to steal 23 bases and has successfully swiped 19 bags to lead the league in both categories. Ashley Holcombe's two picked off runners are enough for first in the conference and Amanda Locke is tied for second in fielding double plays with seven.

As a team Alabama's 2.96 stolen bases per game leads the NCAA. The Tide checks in at fifth in win/loss percentage (.843), ninth in scoring with 6.37 runs per game, fourteenth in batting average (.318) and fifteenth in ERA (1.64) and fielding percentage (.974). Alabama's .489 slugging percentage is twentieth in the country.

Four Tide players rank among the nation's 25 best in different categories. Kelsi Dunne's 11 shutouts are tied for eighth and her 23 victories are tied for eleventh. The sophomore hurler also checks in at twentieth in ERA (1.22) and twenty-fourth in strike outs per seven innings (8.8). Kelley Montalvo has drawn 46 walks, which are good enough for fifth in the county and her .523 on-base percentage checks in at twentieth. Brittany Roger's 41 stolen bases are second in the NCAA and Charlotte Morgan's five sacrifice flies are tied for first.

Alabama broke the all-time NCAA attendance record of 55,746 set in 1999 by Fresno State. The Crimson Tide sports a 2009 total attendance to date of 62,435 in 27 home games played for an average to date of 2,312. In 2008 the Tide led the country with 51,024 in 27 home games played for an average of 1,890. The single game record was also shattered this season when the Tide welcomed 3122 fans to the game against Auburn on April 25.

Alabama Coach Patrick Murphy is approaching 600 career victories. The 12th year head coach sits at 596 heading into the weekend. If the Tide is able to get four more wins this season Murphy will have become just the second coach among the current SEC coaches to accomplish the feat in just 12 seasons at the helm. The only other coach to do so in 12 seasons is Lu Harris-Champer of Georgia, who tallied the majority of her wins at Nicholls State and Southern Miss. Murphy spent one season as the interim head coach at Northwest Missouri State where he guided the Bearcats to 28 wins. Since those 28 wins the Iowa native has guided Alabama to 565 wins in just over 10 years. Including this season no current coach in the SEC has more wins over the last 10 seasons than Murphy. Over the last 10 seasons Murphy has compiled 526 wins. Ralph Weekly at Tennessee has compiled 508 wins and Harris-Champer has 501 wins.

The NCAA released its RPI rankings through games of April 21. Alabama checks in at No. 2 while Florida ranks No. 1. The SEC has four schools in the top 10 and six in the top 25. Alabama is three spots ahead of Georgia and Tennessee follows at No. 10. LSU ranks 16th overall and Kentucky follows at No. 18. Mississippi and Auburn are just out of the top 25 at 32nd and 33rd, respectively.

BamaMag Top Stories