When Head Coach Patrick Murphy’s third-ranked University of Alabama softball team heads to Fayetteville to take on No. 8 Arkansas this weekend, the Crimson Tide’s pitchers will need to be on point. Mistakes could be costly.
“One through nine, they can hit them out,” Murphy said this week regarding the Razorbacks power hitting ability. “It’s like facing the [New York] Yankees ‘Murderers’ Row.’ If our pitchers miss, they can’t miss over the heart of the plate.”
This truth applies to any SEC series, but Murphy is right. His pitching corps ranks second in the SEC with an ERA 1.55 Arkansas is at 2.00. Alabama is first in strikeouts with 270 while the Razorbacks have notched 227 k’s.
Offensively graduate outfielder Alexis Mack leads the Tide in batting at .442, followed by fellow graduate catcher Bailey Hemphill at .430. Hemphill has a .744 slugging percentage and a team-leading seven home runs.
Sophomore Lexi Kilfoyl leads the Tide in the pitching circle with a 1.29 ERA and 88 strikeouts. Junior Montana Fouts with a 1.87 ERA and 137 ring ups co-leads Alabama with the same 11-2 record Kilfoyl has.
“Our pitchers can’t be afraid to pitch,” Murphy said. “There’s a fine line between really, really going after someone and being reckless and throwing it over the heart of the plate. It needs to be a little more strategic and accurate. But you can’t be afraid.”
Injury-wise, Murphy said that senior outfielder KB Sides, who left the Saturday game last weekend against Texas A&M, had a slight ankle injury and is ready to go this weekend. There is a possibility that sophomore outfielder Jenna Johnson, who has played only half of this year’s games, will also be available for more than pinch running, which she did against the Aggies during that sweep.
Arkansas comes into the series leading the SEC with a record of 12-0. The Razorbacks are 32-3 overall. The Crimson Tide sports a league record of 9-3 and is 29-4 in all games. A series win is a near must for Alabama to stay in the race for the league’s regular season title.
Junior infielder Danielle Gibson leads the Hogs at the plate with a .397 mark. In the circle, junior/ace Mary Haff is 18-2 with an ERA of 1.07.
Game times and TV coverage this weekend are set for Friday at 6 p.m. CT [SEC Network Plus], Saturday at 11 a.m. [ESPN2] and Sunday at 1 p.m. [SEC Network Plus].