Tide aims to remain unbeaten in non-conference play

After a convincing sweep over South Carolina, the No. 2 Alabama softball team plays Georgia State tonight at 6 p.m.

Alabama will face its first nonconference opponent since March 25, when it defeated Longwood. With a series against conference-foe Georgia in Athens this weekend, it could be easy for the Crimson Tide team to look ahead.

Senior Amanda Locke said that’s one thing the Tide will make sure it doesn’t do.

“It’s one game at a time,” Locke said. “Every time we play, it’s one game. It’s never let’s look forward to Georgia, or Florida or Arkansas. It’s never any of that.

“Every different game, every pitch. One inning at a time; one pitch at a time. We’re looking forward to Georgia State. They’re a great team. They’ve got great pitchers and great hitting. We’re just going to go out there and give them our best game.”

The Panthers’ four pitchers have a combined 2.33 ERA and have given up just 27 home runs on the season.

Head coach Patrick Murphy said with a 31-12 overall record, Georgia State isn’t going to be an easy game. One or two runs decided five of the Panthers’ 12 losses.

“They beat Georgia Tech already,” Murphy said. “It’s definitely a good nonconference opponent. Kind of gives us a little bit of a break in conference play.”

The Panthers come to Tuscaloosa with a three game win streak and have lost only one of its last 12 games.

The Tide has a little over 48 hours to turn around from Sunday’s game against South Carolina to tonight’s game against Georgia State.

“It’s a quick turnaround, but it’s something we have to deal with,” sophomore Kaila Hunt said. “We just have to come out and play Alabama softball.”

With a 40-2 overall record, 17-2 in the SEC and No. 2 in the polls, the Alabama softball of 2012 has been a force to be reckoned with.

With six seniors and five freshmen on the team, leadership has been a big part of the Tide’s season. From top to bottom Alabama is, simply put, stacked.

Alabama’s dominance in games starts immediately. The Tide has outscored opponents 81-10 in the first inning and 57-15 in the second inning.

Thirteen of the Tide’s games have been decided in six innings or less. Three games have included grand slams. Jennifer Fenton had one against DePaul, Danae Hays against Mississippi State and Locke’s grand slam against South Carolina.

Hunt leads the team with home runs, with 16 on the year and Locke has 10.

But Alabama’s dominance doesn’t come solely from its offensive power. With a 1.33 ERA sophomore Jackie Traina is 26-0 on the season. The win over South Carolina Sunday was Traina’s 28th consecutive game decision, giving her the school-record.

Despite that, Alabama still has eleven games remaining, including three SEC series, but the most important one comes tonight against Georgia State.