Alabama Softball Goes To Auburn

Alabama has a slightly unusual weekend of softball as the Crimson Tide will play a Friday-Saturday three-game series this weekend. Ordinarily, Southeastern Conference teams play Saturday-Sunday, but the schedule was adjusted for Easter.

The Alabama Crimson Tide of Coach Patrick Murphy has had its ups and downs this year as Bama had to replace a handful of outstanding performers from last year's World Series caliber team. Nevertheless, despite disappointments such as losing two of three games to Florida last weekend, Alabama is doing well.

Alabama is 24-9 overall and 7-4 in SEC games and the Crimson Tide is ranked eighth in the nation in one poll, sixth in another.

This week Alabama will be at Auburn. That means playing on the Jane B. Moore field, named for the sister of Alabama Athletics Director Mal Moore. Jane B. Moore was a longtime member of the Auburn faculty.

Auburn is 20-12 overall and 5-6 in conference games.

The three game series will begin with a single game on Friday at 6 p.m. CDT. A doubleheader will begin on Saturday at 1 p.m. Both games on Saturday will be televised on CSS with the first game scheduled to be live and the second slated to air on April 4 at 3 p.m.

Bama's Kayla Braud was SEC Freshman of the Week last week. Against the Gators she batted .700 (7-for-10) with a double, triple and a home run. The rookie also tied for the team lead with five RBI. Senior Charlotte Morgan batted .600 (3-for-5) with a double and five RBI.

Alabama sophomore Jazlyn Lunceford has returned to form in her last five games, hitting .412 (10-for-17) with three home runs and 10 RBI. The .412 clip comes after Lunceford was in the midst of a 2-for-27 slump. Over the last five games her three home runs leads the team and her 10 RBI are tied with Morgan for the team lead. Overall her six home runs are tied for second on the squad and her 21 RBI rank fourth on the team.

Auburn is coming off a 3-1 win over Troy on Wednesday night on the strength of Anna Thompson's 12 strikeouts. The Tigers have earned SEC series victories over Kentucky and South Carolina thus far and were swept by Florida and LSU. Auburn sports a .249 average on the season while opponents are hitting at a .205 clip. Leading the Tiger offensive attack is Amber Harrison and Kelley Smiley as the only two Auburn batters above the .300 mark.

The rivals will be meeting for the 47th time with Alabama holding a 33-13 all-time advantage. The two teams met in Tuscaloosa last season for a three-game weekend series with Alabama earning the sweep. During the three game set Alabama All-American hurler Kelsi Dunne fired a seven-inning no-hitter and was one walk away from perfection. Dunne struck out 14 in the 6-0 win. The last time the Tide fell to the Tigers was by the score of 4-2 on April 25, 2006 in Auburn. Alabama currently sports a 10-game winning streak against its rival.

The Alabama softball team ranks sixth in the country in home runs per game with 1.61 and checks in at No. 8 in slugging percentage with a .563 mark. Braud ranks fifth in the nation with her .505 batting average while Cassie Reilly-Boccia checks in at No. 5 in walks per game (1.05) and eighth in on-base-percentage with a .584 clip. Dunne ranks sixth in the country with an 11.6 Ks per seven innings.

With the start of conference play the Alabama bats have come alive as it ranks atop the league in 11 offensive categories including: batting average (.340), slugging percentage (.670), on base percentage (.456), runs (93), hits (99), RBI (81), home runs (24), walks (56) and stolen bases (20). In the circle Alabama paces the conference in strikeouts (92) and batter struck out looking (35).

Individually, Braud leads the league in batting average (.588), runs (17), triples (2), total bases (34) and hits (20). Morgan paces the conference with 20 RBI and five home runs and checks in at second in slugging percentage (1.154) and on base percentage (.650). Reilly-Boccia leads the circuit in walks with 16 while Morgan closely follows in third with 13. In the circle, Dunne is tied for the league lead in punchouts with 57 and ranks second with a .185 opposing batting average.

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