Tide heads to the Plains

CW Staff

By Jordan Bannister

The Alabama softball team will leave for Auburn today to play the Auburn Tigers at Jane B. Moore Field. The team will play three games against its in-state SEC rival, the final two of which will be broadcasted by the CSS Network on ESPN.

“Any time we play anybody in the SEC, the stakes go a little bit higher,” said head coach Patrick Murphy. “They [Auburn] always play up to their potential. In any sport, it’s going to be a great rivalry game. You can throw out the records because it doesn’t matter who’s doing well or who’s doing bad, they’ll come to play.”

The Lady Tigers stand at 20-12 this season after winning their most recent game against Troy 3-1, while the Tide currently stands at 24-9 after its most recent losses to the Florida Gators last weekend.

“It’s always a fun game,” said senior infielder Alex Blewitt. “Everybody gets pumped up for it, and the crowd is always great. Obviously in any game, you feed off of the crowd as much as you feed off your teammates, and just knowing it’s Auburn gets everyone excited.”

The Tide will face an interesting challenge from Auburn, with the Tiger bullpen boasting a couple of southpaws, a rarity in collegiate softball.

“They have two lefties,” Murphy said. “We’re going to have to adjust quickly to each pitcher.”

Auburn’s pitching lineup runs a bit like a Major League Baseball game. The Tigers tend to use a starter, a short reliever, a long reliever and finish up with a closer, in ever-changing order to throw off their competition. But Murphy said the Tide players have a few tricks up their gloves as well.

“Our pitchers just need to keep the ball in the park,” Murphy said. “That was our only downfall this past weekend. We had some really good at-bats and some really good hitters who came through in a clutch.”

Among those game-changing players was freshman Kayla Braud, who earned her third Freshman of the Week title on March 29 after her performance in the Florida series.

The Alabama ladies are eager to redeem themselves this weekend and bring home another crop of big wins.

“I’m expecting us to go out there hungrier than ever,” said catcher Olivia Gibson. “It was a rough weekend [against Florida] but this is just another chance for us to come back and show what we can do.”

Looking at the level of competition from a strictly SEC standpoint, the Tide is anticipating their next challenge. After falling to Florida, the Tide needs to shake off the loss and look to the future.

“We just try to keep each other calm and try to look at every game the same,” Blewitt said. “We’ll just go out and play our game.”

The first pitch for Saturday’s series opener is scheduled for 6 p.m., while the Sunday doubleheader is set to begin at 1 p.m.