Alabama Softball Home For SEC Play

Alabama has its first home Southeastern Conference play this weekend with the Crimson Tide softball team looking at a couple of milestones. Bama will host South Carolina in a doubleheader Saturday and a single game Sunday.

The Alabama softball program has come a long way since its humble beginnings 14 years ago. The team has gone from playing in Tuscaloosa's Sokol Park to playing in the largest collegiate softball stadium in the nation at the Alabama Softball Complex. The Crimson Tide has made more Women's College World Series appearances in the past 10 years than any other program outside the PAC-10.

In Saturday's second game against South Carolina, Bama will play its 900th softball game.

Although it's not certain to happen this weekend, another milestone is certain to be reached soon and it could come as early as the second game game against the Gamecocks Saturday. Patrick Murphy is nearing his 600th career win as head coach of the Crimson Tide softball team. He sits at 598 entering the series against South Carolina. Murphy earned the 600th victory of his career in a 2-1 win over Kentucky on May 8, 2009 in the SEC Tournament semifinals last season, but that mark included the 28 victories Murphy earned as interim head coach of the Northwest Missouri State Bobcats in 1995. Murphy will be the first softball coach in the SEC to reach 600 wins at an SEC school since the conference began participation in the sport in 1997. The Alabama skipper is the winningest active coach in the SEC. Including this season no current coach in the SEC has more wins over the last 10 seasons than Murphy.

The Saturday doubleheader will begin at 1 p.m. CDT and will be televised in Tuscaloosa on WVUA. The Sunday single game is scheduled for telecast on Fox Sports South with first pitch at 1 p.m. CDT.

Alabama is ranked fifth in the nation in one poll and eighth in another. The Crimson Tide has a 19-7 overall record and is 3-2 in SEC games, all played on the road. South Carolina is 9-16 overall, including an 0-7 SEC mark.

Alabama senior All-America Charlotte Morgan has begun to heat up. In the last six games Morgan is batting .375 (6-for-16) with four home runs and 10 RBI. The Moreno Valley, Calif., native has also smacked two doubles, scored four runs and sports a 1.250 slugging percentage.

A first-team All-America in 2009, Alabama junior Kelsi Dunne is accustomed to getting the start and getting the job done. In a few cases this season the right-hander has been called upon out of the bullpen to give the Tide a lift in the circle and she has done exactly that. In relief Dunne is a perfect 3-0 with one save. She has pitched 13 2/3 innings and has allowed just two hits and sports a perfect ERA while striking out 26 and only walking two. Dunne has not allowed a hit in three different outings out of the pen and has been perfect on two occasions.

Alabama's Cassie Reilly-Boccia leads the league with a .584 on base percentage. Her 25 walks lead the league. Newcomer Kayla Braud ranks fifth in batting average with a .442 mark and ranks eighth in stolen bases with 12 while Jennifer Fenton ranks fourth with 16. Braud also is seventh in hits (34) and 10th in runs scored (23). Morgan is tied for seventh in home runs with seven. Dunne is third in strikeouts with 127 is second in the conference in punchouts looking with 45. Her nine wins ranks tied for fifth overall.

Bama and the Gamecocks have played 39 previous games with Alabama holding a 23-16 advantage. Last season the Gamecocks got the better of the Tide in Columbia as they won two of three games. The last time the Gamecocks defeated the Tide in Tuscaloosa was in the series opener on April 17, 2004.

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