Softball to host Michigan

Softball to host Michigan

Austin_Bigoney

The softball team will host the No. 4 Michigan Wolverines on Friday. CW File

Kelly Ward

First up is No. 4 Michigan, who fell to Florida State in three games at the Tallahassee Super Regional after beating the Seminoles in the first. The Wolverines (8-1) are on an eight-game winning streak after falling 2-1 to open the season against defending national champion No. 1 Florida.

“Obviously, we really want to prove that we can beat one of the best teams in the country in Michigan,” junior centerfielder Haylie McCleney said. “You know, they’re going to come here ready to play. They want to beat us on our home field and we’ve got to protect that so we just have to stay within ourself I think and not get too caught up in the hype. You know, it’s a top-five matchup, all this kind of stuff. We really gotta stay within ourselves, just remain calm, execute, know what we have to do to win, take it slow, do the little things right and the result will take care of itself.”

The Crimson Tide has been able to rely on its pitching to get the job done. In her second start after throwing a perfect game, sophomore right-hander Sydney Littlejohn nearly threw a no-hitter. Freshman right-hander Alexis Osorio did throw a no-hitter on Sunday in the 10-0 win over California Polytechnic State.

“Our pitchers have done really well,” coach Patrick Murphy said. “Only one little bump in the road to me and that was Lexi’s start against Stanford, and just every 
freshman has that little hiccup and she came back and threw the no-hitter on Sunday, which everybody was really proud of her ‘cause she could’ve folded her tent, but it was a totally different kid on 
the mound.”

Alabama’s bats have complemented its pitching. In five of its 11 wins, Alabama has finished the game in five innings after invoking a mercy rule. Through 12 games, the Crimson Tide has outscored its 
opponents 91-17.

Still, there is room for improvement.

“We need some of our power hitters to start connecting,” Murphy said. “That to me is probably the thing we need to improve on the most. Just get the ball out of the infield ‘cause we had bases loaded, no outs against Pacific, didn’t get a run in, and that shouldn’t happen.”

The Crimson Tide has been able to rely on two hitters to get the job done.

McCleney was named SEC Player of the Week. She hit .571 over the weekend with 12 hits and 11 RBI. Her batting average is .568 through 12 games. She owns a .660 on-base percentage and a .811 
slugging percentage.

Freshman infielder Demi Turner is second on the team with a .541 batting average. She has the highest slugging percentage on the team (.865), which Murphy said was what surprised him the most. Turner’s only home run this season was straight over the centerfield wall, which Murphy said is a sign of a good hitter.

As good as McCleney and Turner have been, Murphy said the team can’t rely on two hitters the whole time.

“I think the other people will start to hit the ball,” he said. “I’m not worried about it. But it’s going to be fun when they all start to contribute.”

Alabama starts the weekend Friday at 
4 p.m. against Michigan.