The University of Alabama’s fourth-ranked softball team will face the younger sister of a well-known college and future pro quarterback this weekend when the Crimson Tide heads to Athens, Ga. this weekend.
One of No. 21 Georgia’s top players is sophomore outfielder Jaiden Fields, whose brother, Justin, is a former UGA and Ohio State quarterback and is now a member of the Chicago Bears organization. Fields is currently batting .294 with five homers and 20 RBIs.
She leapt into national prominence by belting a game-winning round tripper when her Bulldogs upset Oklahoma 7-6 in nine innings April 20.
Fields is only one of Georgia’s many offensive weapons. The Bulldogs are led at the plate by Lacey Fincher at .359 with a dozen home runs, while Sydney Kuma bats .314 and has a team-leading 13 dingers.
In the circle, coach Lu Harris-Champer’s team is guided by Mary Wilson Avant, who sports a 15-6 mark and a 2.55 ERA.
Georgia enters the series 29-14 and is 7-11 in the SEC. Alabama comes in at 36-7 and is 12-6 in the conference.
Patrick Murphy’s team will have a tough time catching league leader Arkansas (17-4 SEC) with just two weekends left in the regular season, but clinching one of four first-round byes for the SEC Tournament in Tuscaloosa remains a big goal.
“[Harris-Champer] has been consistent as a winner, year in and year out," Murphy said. "[Georgia] is always a tough team to play. They play hard. They’re always a good hitting team.
“She did a clinic one time […] and I was lucky enough to be there. I learned a ton from her. I think after that she quit having them because I learned too much from her. It helped us. She’s very knowledgeable.
“Her team plays just like her. Gritty and never give up. It’s been fun to play against them.”
Alabama pitchers Montana Fouts and Lexi Kilfoyl will have something to say about the Bulldogs' success at the plate. Fouts is the reigning SEC Pitcher of the Week and is now 15-2 with a 1.70 ERA. She has ten or more strikeouts in six straight starts. Kilfoyl, a nominee for NFCA Division I Freshman of the Year, is a redshirt freshman who has a mark of 11-3 and an ERA of 1.56.
The Crimson Tide offense is sparked by graduate left fielder Alexis Mack and her .397 batting average, while graduate-student catcher Bailey Hemphill has a team-high eight home runs and 38 RBIs despite being constantly pitched around.
Game times and TV coverage for this weekend series are Friday at 5 p.m. CT (SEC Network+), Saturday at noon (ESPN2) and Sunday at 1 p.m. on SEC Network+.