Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Alabama Softball Team Earns No. 2 Seed for NCAA Postseason

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Alabama Softball Team Earns No. 2 Seed for NCAA Postseason

Article excerpt

The University of Alabama softball team was awarded the No. 2 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament when the field of 64 was released Sunday night, but the Crimson Tide may have gotten the toughest draw in the nation.

The Tuscaloosa Regional, scheduled for Friday through Sunday at Rhoads Stadium, features a four-team field that might be softball's Group of Death, with three ranked teams - No. 5 Alabama, No. 22 South Alabama and No. 23 South Carolina Upstate - and three pitchers ranked in the top six nationally in earned run average.

Alabama's regional is the only one with three ranked teams.

"This might be one of the toughest home regionals we've ever had," UA coach Patrick Murphy said. "I know every game is going to be very competitive. I mean, it will be scratch, claw, fight your way out of it."

South Carolina Upstate (45-7) is ranked No. 1 nationally in pitching with a 1.18 team ERA. Freshman Lexi Shubert, rates sixth with a 1.05 ERA and Anna Miller leads the nation in strikeouts per seven innings with an average of 12 per full-game outing, based on NCAA rankings going into the weekend.

South Alabama (40-12) brings senior Hannah Campbell, fourth in ERA at .94, and junior Farish Beard, who is fifth with a 1.04 ERA. The Jaguars' 1.27 team ERA ranks second nationally.

Shubert, Miller, Campbell and Beard are all right-handers.

Southern Illinois-Edwardsville (30-21) of the Ohio Valley Conference rounds out the four-team field in Tuscaloosa. The Cougars have their own ace in sophomore lefty Haley Chambers, who carries a 1.82 ERA and averages more than one strikeout per inning.

"We're kind of used to the good pitching," Murphy said. "The SEC Tournament really helps us with that, and playing Missouri the weekend before and Georgia the weekend before (that), so I don't think we're going to be intimidated by any means."

Alabama (45-11) has a proven ace in two-time Southeastern Conference pitcher of the year Jaclyn Traina, who carries a 2.03 ERA, with support from freshman Sydney Littlejohn, who has a 1.75 ERA.

Should Alabama survive the regional, it would host a best-of- three super regional round against 15th-seeded Missouri if the Tigers hold off Nebraska, Kansas and Bradley in the Columbia, Mo. …

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