Home Sweet Home For Tide Softball
Alabama's three-day softball event includes the Crimson Tide hosting Virginia Tech, UCF and McNeese State with each team playing five games today through Sunday.
Bama hosts Virginia Tech at 4 p.m. and willo play UCF at 6 p.m. today. On Saturday, Alabama will play Virginia Tech at 1:30 p.m. and UCF at 4 p.m. The Tide completes its weekend play on Sunday against McNeese at 1:30.
Here's a brief look at each opponent:
Virginia Tech (5-2, 0-0 ACC) - The Hokies improved to 5-2 this season with a pair of wins in a Tuesday doubleheader against UNCG, defeating the Spartans 12-4 and 4-0. The team is led by a pair of quality sophomore pitchers, with Maggie Tyler owning a 1.67 ERA over 21.0 innings with 21 strikeouts, while Kelly Heinz has a 2.24 ERA over 25.0 innings with 24 strikeouts. Freshman Vanessa Gonzalez has impressed in her debut season, leading the team with a .444 average and .583 on-base percentage.
UCF (7-1, 0-0 AAC) - The Knights are off to the best start in program history, winning its first seven games before falling to No. 10 Florida State, 6-1, on Wednesday. With no seniors on the roster, the young squad has edged out some close victories, thanks in large part to a pitching staff that owns a 1.53 team ERA and 63 strikeouts over 55.0 innings. Freshman Linnea Goodman (.412) and junior Kahley Novak (.348) lead the offense with a combined 15 hits and four RBI.
McNeese (7-5, 0-0 Southland) - The Cowgirls improved to 7-5 by sweeping a Wednesday doubleheader over Stephen F. Austin, 9-5 and 8-0. The team scored a big win in last weekend's Texas A&M Aggie Classic, defeating then-No. 8 Texas A&M, 4-2. McNeese has four regular starters hitting above .300, led by junior Lauren Langner at .439 with 18 hits, including seven extra-base hits and seven RBI. Sophomore pitcher Jamie Allred (4-2, 2.65 ERA) has seen the most time in the circle, throwing 41 strikeouts over 39.2 innings pitched.
Alabama hopes to get back to its early play in Tucson when the Tide won its first three games by a combined score of 34-6. That was off-set by the two losses against Arizona, 3-0 and 8-0.
One highlight of this weekend's play could be Bama Coach Patrick Murphy reading the 800-win milestone at Alabama. Now in his 16th season heading up the Tide program, Murphy has a record of 797-215 (78.9 per cent winning percentage). He would become only the 15th active coach to reach the 800-win plateau at his or her current school. Murphy has the highest wins per season average of all at 52.6 per year.
A pleasant surprise for Bama has been the power of Danae Hays. The junior had a combined seven home runs through her first two seasons at Bama. In 10 games this year she leads the team and is tied for second in the Southeastern Conference with five homers.
Hardly a surprise, but certainly pleasant, has been the early play of sophomore Haylie McCleney. She has 15 hits in her 24 at-bats and is the only SEC player batting .600 or better with a .625 average. She also leads the conference with a .743 on-base percentage and is second in slugging percentage at 1.208.