Alabama Softball Hosts Tournament

Alabama's softball team, ranked sixth in one national poll and eighth in the other, hosts a prestigious tournament at the Crimson Tide Softball Complex this weekend. Seventh-ranked Michigan, DePaul, and South Carolina will join Bama in the Easton Challenge.

Alabama (12-3 this season) will not play against fellow Southeastern Conference member South Carolina (8-6) in the tournament.

The tournament begins at 3:30 p.m. CST Friday with South Carolina taking on DePaul (6-4). Alabama will play against Michigan (10-4) in the Friday nightcap at 6 p.m. CST.

Alabama's other games in the tournament will be on Saturday against DePaul at 1:30 and Michigan at 4 p.m., and on Sunday at 12:15 p.m. against DePaul.

Alabama has seen Michigan once this year. Alabama went 4-1 last weekend at the NFCA Leadoff Classic. Alabama continued its hot play at the prestigious tournament, opening the weekend with back-to-back wins over Maryland (4-1) and Iowa (5-4). Alabama then came from a 6-2 deficit in the seventh inning and scored eight runs on the strength of three home runs to down then No. 4 ranked Michigan, 10-6. Whitney Larsen collected the big hit with a clutch grand slam off Wolverine All-American Nikki Nemitz. The Tide then run-ruled Nebraska in six innings by the score of 11-3 before getting tripped up on Sunday to UCF, 3-2.

Michigan enters the Easton Classic coming off a 3-0 victory over Mississippi State on Wednesday.

DePaul enters the weekend with a 6-4 record and has won five in a row.

All three visiting head coaches enter Tuscaloosa with lofty credentials. The trio of Eugene Lenti (DePaul), Carol Hutchins (Michigan) and Joyce Compton (South Carolina) are all members of the NFCA Hall of Fame.

Alabama Coach Patrick Murphy is no doubt headed to the Hall of Fame.

Although Alabama is in a rebuilding mode this season, the Crimson Tide has plenty of weapons, led by 2009 SEC Player of the Year Charlotte Morgan as a pitcher and hitter, pitcher Kelsi Dunne, and newcomer Kayla Braud, the Tide's leadoff hitter. Braud batted a team-leading .444 (8-for-18) over the week with six runs and four stolen bases. The Eugene, Ore., native also added two RBI and four walks to sport a .545 on base percentage. Braud collected a hit in all but one of the six games over the week and scored at least one run in all but two games. Against Nebraska Braud tallied three runs and reached base in all four at bats, with two hits and two walks. She also swiped two bags in the winning effort over the Huskers.

The 2010 Easton Challenge marks the second season of the tournament. The inaugural Easton Challenge featured Washington, Georgia and Baylor. Of the four teams that participated in the tournament, three made it to the Women's College World Series. The Huskies won the national championship while the Crimson Tide and Bulldogs were eliminated in the national semifinals. Alabama went 3-1 last year's Easton, defeating No. 1 Washington 6-0 and No. 24 Baylor 4-0 and 10-1. The Huskies returned the favor with an identical score of 6-0.

Following the tournament, the Tide remains at home to host Liberty in a doubleheader beginning at 3 p.m. Tuesday. Bama will head to Georgia to open SEC play on March 13.

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